Van Persie, Look What You’ve Done To Me

It’s another guest post. Either I’m feeling lazy or I want to see whether people are more interested in this kind of stuff than the kind of things I normally write. Why not read it and then leave a comment and tell me? Nothing rude, mind, because I’ll come round and set a badger loose in your garden. Personally I’m not sure I agree with the conclusions of the piece, but you might.

This is from Andrew Yates, who is on twitter as @takeabowson1, and it’s a little piece he calls:

Football is a cruel mistress

At five years old I knew exactly what I wanted to be. Not for me a cowboy or a train driver. Nor even, as was fashionable at the time, did I want to be part of the Apollo Crew (though I did have a Spaceman’s suit).

Nope, I wanted to play for Arsenal. I couldn’t wait to grow some Ray Kennedy sideburns, put on a red shirt and stick the ball in the net whilst the adoring masses stood in the North Bank chanting my name and (no place for false modesty here), just kind of worshipping me.

By ten I knew I would never make it or come anywhere close to realising that dream, and whichever way you look at it that’s pretty young to have your ambitions shattered. Nowhere near good enough. Sure I had spent hours over the park with the old man trapping, shielding, dribbling, shooting. Sure, I was reasonably quick (came third in my class race at end of term, beaten by Debbie Thomas), sure I could control the ball pretty instantaneously, see a pass and beat a man, but by ten I knew that there were kids who were just better than me at all these things. Faster, stronger, better.

My point? I am one of millions, literally millions, of people who dreamed that dream but were never good enough. So, so few have that combination of talent, application and yes, luck, to make the jump from fan to player. And of that tiny percentage an even smaller (we’re talking infinitesimal here) go on to play for a club of the stature of Arsenal.

And of that tiny group of people there is an even smaller subset (think gnats chuff and divide by two), who become a legend of Arsenal.

We can all argue about what constitutes a club Legend (or you could look at my post here). Legend has become an overused word, its common usage only serving to devalue its currency, but even with a generous eye I would guess there have been no more than 20 in the 42 years since I first fell in love with Highbury. Twenty men. Not many.

RVP had the chance to join the elite of the elite, a band of men who are followed by adoration, admiration and love wherever they go. It follows them into their dotage long after their wondrous deeds on the pitch have begun to fade from the mind’s eye and it remains a constant sustenance for whatever life’s capriciousness might throw at them.

Instead, he threw it all away. My overriding emotion today is therefore sadness. Sadness for us because we have lost a terrific player and sadness for him because he has lost that chance to live in the hearts of others. Is it a tragedy? No. I refuse to use that word in a football context unless we’re talking Bradford, Hillsborough, Heysel et al, but it is nevertheless a huge shame.

Sure I’ll scream at him along with everybody else when Man Utd come visiting, but I won’t really mean it. While the expletives pour forth from my mouth, my brain will only be thinking, ”Oh Robin, you silly boy”. For no matter what he might go on to achieve at United, and no matter how bloated his bank balance becomes, he will never be loved or regarded in the same way as he was here, as a talisman, as a leader, as a legend.

And the real sadness is that he knows it. Notwithstanding the claims of many Arsenal fans, his move was not just all about the money. He is an intelligent, articulate and probably nice man. Legacy matters to him and he knows that he has blown it.

If anyone has had the stomach to see RvP holding his new curtain shirt next to a beaming alcoholic geriatric, they will have seen that his expression is not one of joy, excitement or even anticipation. They will have seen that his is an expression of joylessness, embarrassment, tension, guilt and no little shame. It is the look of a man who is saying “How on earth did it all come to this?” and that is as “tragic” a plight of the modern footballer, barring injury/ illness etc, that I have seen.

Goodbye Robin van Persie, the man who looked immortality in the eye and said no thanks.

Twitter: @takeabowson1 – author
@AngryOfN5 – blog


28 thoughts on “Van Persie, Look What You’ve Done To Me

  1. forget RVP, with this team we will win everything

    Sagna Kosci Verma Gibbs

    M’vila(coqulin) Sahin(Wilshere,Arteta,Diaby)


    Walcot(OX) Giroud(podoliski) Gerviho(Arshavin)

    Believe me we will win

  2. Fantastic piece,though i do wonder about the real thoughts of RVP. Is there that part of him inside that truly regrets that things have turned out as they have?. I seriously wonder.

  3. Very interesting article but sadly I saw RVP in his photograph as a man looking like the cat who got the cream.Who looked just as happy in this wedding photograph with a different bride as he did with his wife of eight years.
    I saw a deviousness in RVPs handling of questions about his future all season.He is perfectly entitled to do what he did but dont expect the love.
    I shared exactly the same dream and recently told Charlie George how lucky he was to live it.The thing is Charlie,living on a modest stipend from the lub knows it but he doesn’t really care that he’s not a millionaire because he did live the dream in a different era. But even Charlie left and he almost left to go toSpurs because the manager and he didn’t get on.
    RVP won’t come back to Highbury and take people around the stadium in ten years time.He won’t need to of course but I’m afraid that the new breed of footballer is more self- centred and mercenary than we would have been had we made it and RVP is a great example.
    Man United have a few legends of their own and RVP will have to go some to become one.I guess he has traded legend status for a few extra medals. Let’s hope in the nicest possible way he is is appointed.

  4. I know what you mean, but I reckon he’ll get over it as soon as his first bank statement comes in. But I think that there must be a small part of him that regrets the whole thing.

  5. Hmm I just went and looked at the pics you described. While he doesn’t look joyous he certainly doesn’t look embarrassed. He looks to me like a man satisfied with a decision.

    In the long run I’m sure he thinks if he wins things with United he’ll be a hero with their fans. Not immortal exactly but does he really care?

  6. Or you could just intepret that expression as nerves. He must be wondering if he’ll really make it at ManU. He could become one of their legends (though precious little time to do it and depends on no more injuries) or he could be a great big flop. Anyway it doesn’t matter to us (even if a tiny corner of my brain hopes that flop is the answer – since I do tend to bear grudges).

  7. I think the photo you are referring to was fake. The official photos that came out later had RVP beaming sitting next to Ferguson. And also seemingly sharing a laugh with Rooney and Co at their training ground. You’d like to think that he knows he’s blown it, but perhaps he doesn’t, or doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter though. He’s irrelevant now.

    But I do agree with you. When he walked on to the field in a ManU shirt against Everton, I was surprisingly calm about it. My thought was the same. He’s just did an idiotic thing and it’s a shame.

    P.S. In the photos that I saw of his unveiling at ManU, his wife most certainly did not look happy at all. Bouchra’s comments about Arsenal and her work with the wives of the other Arsenal players deserve positive mention. Not speculating that there’s trouble in the Van Persie home, and I wouldn’t wish it either, but maybe we’re not the only ones whose feelings he ignored in search of his ‘ambition’.

  8. I don’t normally join in and contribute to blogs, but this one is different. You’re spot on with your summary, my thoughts exactly, what a shame….

  9. Loved how you ended this article. “Goodbye Robin van Persie, the man who looked immortality in the eye and said no thanks.” Summed it up perfectly. It’s a pity he did that but honestly if you were in his shoes, given the chance to earn double of what Arsenal was offering PLUS a £10 million loyalty bonus after 4 years.. It’ll be simple too good to refuse despite him being an Arsenal fan since a kid. Just some food for thought but great article nonetheless!

  10. Great piece – well said!
    Saw RVP warming up b4 the game against Everton. He looked like a kid at a new school, shyly trying to make friends by kicking a ball to them – just didn’t look right.

  11. emotional stuff, really touched me. he could have finished as arsenal’s second top goal scorer.
    he blew it and broke our hearts.

  12. Wish gud luck to him. He has done everything at Arsenal. Thank you Robin. He deserves to go there got better pay and has more chances to win trophies(maybe). Arsenal should had bought these type of players three years ago. If they did so. Story maybe different today. Btw it is ok. it is better late than not . Arsenal have to survive without Robin which I think we are in better shape. Just give our new players sometimes to gel. I think after 3 – 4 matches Pod n Groud will obtain their finishing touch with assistance of Mr Prof.For the first time I think Arsenal is ready to challenge for silverware after 2005.Thank Robin for what you have done to Arsenal . Go go Gunners.

  13. It’s like you took the words right out of mouth. And more so for a club like arsenal that has continually lost it’s best players, his loyalty would have gone down in history. It’s a shame, but I hope jack becomes that player. And for him to move to man utd, unforgivable

  14. I wish I could agree with you, I might have thought the same for few minutes. For me it was that hard to swallow my pride seeing our captain joining those c***s. I know it was a denial process, but we all have to protect ourselves from getting to disappointed. So I wanted to believe what you said.

    But then those “little boy” comments & shattered my illusion, lift my head with coercion & forced me to look at the mirror. Oh that damned mirror I couldn’t escape. It told me Robin was only another end product of the Piggy Capitalist modern football world.

  15. Very well put. I’m sure these thoughts are echoed more or less by many Gooners, probably the majority. Certainly my own feelings are more of sadness than of anger; the latter mostly short-lived and generated by the attitudes expressed in his notorious statement rather than by his leaving (though I was also angry when it became clear where he was going).

    I will not be wishing van Persie well, because I could never wish any success to the arrogant bunch in red from that little town in the midlands. But I will remember with pleasure his performances for the Gunners over the last season; his passion on the pitch only makes the mode of his departure all the more difficult to understand. I can only believe he had his head turned by some malign influence (and we know who the most likely source of that is). I too wonder how how he will come to terms with what he’s turned his back on, something money can never buy.

    (On which note, I do wonder what £200,000 a week can really buy that £120,000 cannot — or whatever the real figures were — even after tax and provision for an extremely comfortable and long retirement? I don’t believe the “leaving to win silverware” line applies after well-publicised comments by vP himself in the past.)

    And like others commenting above, I wonder how the van Persie family feel about his abandoning the Arsenal and moving from London to another English club, having all made clear during the past year their attitudes to Robin’s place amongst the Gunners, and their own affection for the club. I’m thinking in particular of comments by Bouchra van Persie on Twitter over the last year or so. As far as I can discover, they have remained discreetly silent since his infamous statement was published. As well they might.

  16. Friend, you may well feel a great deal more sorrow for Robin (I still love the guy, still a legend to me) if you take account of the commercial instincts of the dynamic duo who control the finances of AFC. To them he was a declining asset, and no doubt they are patting each other on the back. Robin may have refused to extend his contract (with good reason, in my view), but he NEVER wanted to leave the Club. Ultimately, no doubt, the truth will come out (via Arsene’s memoirs?) and perhaps then we can raise Robin once more to the legendhood he deserves.

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