"He is very intelligent and talented but most of all he is passionate about the game"--Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger talking about Robin Van Persie in 2009.
Robin Van Persie's £2.75 million move from Eredivisie side Feyenoord to Arsenal in 2004 did not attract much attention. Eight years later, the news of his departure from Arsenal, confirmed by the player himself on his website, has attracted worldwide attention.
Under the tutelage of Wenger, van Persie was molded from a left winger to one of the most lethal strikers the world over.
For example, during the 2011 calendar year Van Persie scored 35 goals which was just one short of Alan Shearer's record of 36. In doing so he almost single handedly helped Arsenal to a credible third place finish, a feat that was unthinkable just six months previously.
During the 2010-11 season he became the first Premier league player to score in nine consecutive away games, a feat that has not been equaled or surpassed.
Unfortunately, van Persie's playing career has also been dogged by injuries. In 2009 he suffered a career threatening injury in a friendly international that put him on the deck for five months.
More set backs were to follow as the supremely talented player was rarely utilized for an entire season due to numerous injuries. His injuries ranged from the unfortunate to the bizarre. In the 2006-07 season for instance, Van Persie fractured a metatarsal in his right foot, whilst celebrating a winning goal.
Yet as inevitably as the Sun rises from the East and sets in the West, van Persie would reemerge from these setbacks sharper, focused and more lethal. One just can but speculate as to the heights that he would have achieved at Arsenal had he not been derailed time and time again by countless injuries.
Van Persie's career blossomed once he was handed the captain's armband in Arsenal in 2011. His first game in charge was disastrous, as Arsenal was dismantled, 8-2 by Manchester United. but soon he seemed to merge into the role.
It seems van Persie's decision to leave Arsenal has been influenced by the long trophy drought that Wenger's boys have experienced since that sunny day when Patrick Vieira's penalty handed them the 2005 FA Cup.
It may have been the sight of his ex-colleagues Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas winning trophies in other clubs immediately after leaving Arsenal that contributed to his decision to leave.
Whatever the rationale behind his decision, at 28 years of age, Van Persie had very limited time to make a move. One feels it was this season or never. He took the bow in majestic fashion winning the 2011-2012 Golden Boot after many stirring and match winning performances.
His departure is not much of a surprise. For most of the past season it had seemed inevitable that Van Persie would leave Arsenal. Not even the statement by his father Bob Van Persie that seemed to suggest that his son would not leave the Gunners laid to the rest the persistent rumour mills. In the end Van Persie called time on his outstanding career at the Emirates.
All said and done the services of Van Persie will be greatly missed at the Emirates. He will be remembered as the eighth highest all-time scorer at Arsenal with an incredible 132 goals and has left a legacy that few will be able to match let alone emulate.
The famous image of van Persie wheeling away, his number 10 shirt in full sight after scoring another spectacular goal will remain etched for months if not years in the memories of not only Arsenal fans but football lovers globally.
Captain Van-Tastic who has been compared to the great Dutch Legend Marco Van Basten due to his silky football skills will be an impossible act to follow.
Truly without a doubt it is an end of an era.
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