Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Robben and Van Persie: When They Were Children
by Mike Woitalla, June 17th, 2014 1:08PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  world cup 2014, youth boys, youth girls

MOST COMMENTED

By Mike Woitalla

Here are some glimpses into the childhoods of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, who each scored a pair of goals as the Netherlands opened their 2014 World Cup campaign with a 5-1 win over defending champion Spain:

Arjen Robben’s father was a player and coach, but Arjen says his dad didn’t critique his play.

“He always let me be," Arjen told TZ. "I think, that’s the most important thing. When I now see parents on the sideline standing and screaming … I think, that’s the worst thing one can do. Children should have fun and run after the ball without pressure. You have to let that happen.”

At 5 and 6, Arjen would accompany his father to the amateur club where he coached and play around on the field next to where his dad's team trained. Asked about his extraordinary dribbling skills, Robben said:

“I think with speed, you either have it or you don’t. If you have it, you just have to combine that with a feel for the ball. As a child I was always with the ball, at home and on the street. On the street I played 1-v-1, for hours on end.”

Robin van Persie, whose diving header against Spain is the most spectacular of the World Cup so far, was born in Rotterdam to two artists, who got divorced when he was 5.

“If he had wanted to be a ballet dancer, it would have been fine with me,” father Bob van Persie told the Telegraph. “Anything he wanted to do. He was a difficult boy, overactive. When my wife and I divorced, he came to live with me until he was in his twenties. Until he turned 12, I had a hard time controlling him. But suddenly he turned positive. He found soccer as something to put his energy into.”

His mother, Josée Ras, said, “As a little boy he was always busy with the ball, and you could see he was fascinated by it. By 5 he could already control the ball miraculously.”

Schoolwork, however, was not as fascinating for the young Robin. A couple of years ago, the Telegraph’s Oliver Brown tracked down one of Robin’s teachers who taught at the high school that Feyenoord’s academy players attended.

“He was not a good student,” said Omar Verhoeven, who taught history to Van Persie. “When you have pupils, you try to prepare them for the jobs market. You always say, ‘Be a good student, learn well, and maybe you will have a good job.’ But when everybody is telling you at 12 that you will be the next Cruyff, it’s very hard. Why should he have a diploma? He knew that as a footballer, he would earn lots and lots of money.”

Robin was one of the fortunate ones for whom it worked out.

Previous editions of the Youth Soccer Insider’s “When They Were Children” series:
Kekuta Manneh: 'Soccer has just one language'
DeAndre Yedlin: From ballboy to star
Diego Fagundez & Mike Magee
MLS 2014 SuperDraft Picks: Andre Blake, Steve Birnbaum, Christian Dean, Steve Neumann, Eric Miller, Damion Lowe.
Clint Dempsey
Neven Subotic
Kristine Lilly
Darlington Nagbe, Sean Johnson, Nick Rimando, Luis Silva, Juan Agudelo
Michael Bradley
Chris Wondolowski
Hope Solo
Jurgen Klinsmann
Mario Balotelli & Philipp Lahm
Nani & David Silva
Cristiano Ronaldo & Danny Welbeck
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Andres Iniesta & Andriy Shevchenko
Didier Drogba
Lionel Messi
U.S. Women World Cup 2011 (Alex Morgan & Co.)
Ronaldinho
Logan Pause, David Ferreira, Fredy Montero, Dwayne De Rosario, CJ Sapong, Perry Kitchen, Tim Ream


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Well-planned campus visits are key to making the right college connection    
We're starting to plan college visits for our high school children. They'd like to play soccer. ...
Massapequa returns McGuire Cup to New York for first time in 59 years    
Massapequa Arsenal became the first team from New York to win the McGuire Cup since 1959 ...
'Coaches in Latino community need support from parents' (Joe Supe Q&A)     
Joe Supe, head coach of Southern California's Irvine Valley College's women's team, has spent two decades ...
Development Academy honors include best 'style of play'    
Unique in postseason awards, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy recognizes teams for best "style of play" ...
U.S. Soccer OKs caps for refs     
Kudos to the U.S. Soccer Federation, which has announced its approval for referees to wear caps.
FC Dallas youth movement forges ahead     
Last Saturday, MLS's first-place team FC Dallas beat D.C United, 2-1. Its first goal came from ...
MLS teams book all Development Academy final spots    
Georgia United U-15/16, the only non-MLS club to reach the semifinals of either age group in ...
Matias Asorey: 'If players enjoy training, they give more effort and energy'    
Matias Asorey, the Technical Director of Florida's Kendall Soccer Coalition, was 2014 U.S. Soccer Development Academy ...
Is skipping high school soccer worth it?    
My son got invited to play on a U.S. Soccer Development Academy team. But that would ...
Cooperation formula pays off for Georgia United    
Seven of the eight semifinal spots in the two U.S. Soccer Development Academy age groups have ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives