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Van Persie: Vieira inspired me to be strong mentally

Patrick Vieira played a key role in helping Robin van Persie learn how to deal with pressure, according to the Netherlands striker.

Van Persie swapped Manchester United for Fenerbahce in July but has not featured in the starting line-up for a Super Lig clash since September 13.

The 32-year-old – who made his 100th appearance for the Netherlands in their 2-1 Euro 2016 qualifying win over Kazakhstan on Saturday – has also been stripped of the national team captaincy  by head coach Danny Blind.

But the former Feyenoord man is determined not to let adversity affect him, revealing he learned how to remain strong from his former Arsenal team-mate Vieira.

“When you’re young you don’t know how to deal with situations like this,” Van Persie was quoted as saying by The Daily Mirror.

“But let me explain who was my guide to a great balance in life. Patrick Vieira showed me how to stay mentally strong and cope with all the pressures.

“My first season at Arsenal was Patrick’s last. There were lots of stories about him going to Real Madrid. There was so much happening around this guy, it was incredible, and yet he was a tower of strength and an icon of calmness.

“He just remained our natural leader. Nothing could affect him. He was totally in balance, he was on top of everything and felt he could master it all.

“As a young player I was completely in awe of him. I admired that mental strength in him, and I think everybody else did.”

In order to qualify for the Euro 2016 play-offs, the Netherlands need to beat the Czech Republic, who have already qualified, on Tuesday and hope group leaders Iceland defeat third-placed Turkey.

Van Persie regrets the fact the Dutch do not have their fate in their own hands, but promised to do his utmost if selected.

“We must battle until the last minutes of this campaign and try to qualify,” he said. 

“It’s sad that we’ve landed in a situation like this.

“The Turks are very confident they will qualify. In the dressing-room at Fenerbahce they’ve been making jokes, but in reality it’s serious business.

“As long as we have a chance, I will keep fighting on the pitch for my country – that is when I play.”

Mon 12 Oct, 2015
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