Many Chelsea fans would have taken pleasure in Arjen Robben’s injury woes last season with Real Madrid given his regrettably selfish attitude on the pitch during his time there but the Dutch star believes he has hit top form at just the right time for Euro 2008.
The 24-year-old winger hardly repaid much of his bizarrely inflated 36million euros transfer fee during his first season at Real but he really is convinced that he will show his real and undoubted talent at the championships as the Dutch seek to add the 2008 title to the one their compatriots won with such style in 1988.
“I feel really strong,” said the former PSV Eindhoven player.
“Physically, I am 100percent. And I am convinced that I am going to have an outstanding Euro.”
Real fans and indeed the team’s coach Bernd Schuster will be amazed to hear such confidence being expressed by a player, who had no less than five injuries in a season where the meringues romped to the title.
“I went through some hard times,” he admitted.
“This past season was the most frustrating of my career. Each time I came back from one injury, I suffered another. I really struggled.
“But now, that period is behind me. At the end of the season with Real I played a dozen matches in succession without feeling a thing in my ankles or my thighs.
“And the warm-up matches with my country for Euro have completely reassured me,” he added.
For Schuster – who is convinced of Robben’s enormous potential – this will come as a relief as he had been accused of buying a fragile player or ‘man of glass’, though, the German handler has his own opinions why Robben was injured so often.
“The reason for Arjen’s injury problems to me is because of anxiety,” opined Schuster.
“He wants to do too well and imposes too much pressure on himself.
“And when one plays too stressed out, one gets injured. It is imperative he relaxes.”
Robben did not take too kindly to this assessment.
“Four months ago I agreed with Real to consult a specialist in Holland,” said Robben.
“This osteopath immediately saw that there was an imbalance in my back which was the reason for all my injury worries.
“Since then, he has looked after me on a regular basis and my problems have disappeared. I am much relieved I can tell you,” he added.
For Dutch fans hungry for success his return to full fitness and form was evident as he scored a goal in the friendly against Wales last Sunday, to cap an excellent performance on the left wing.
As ever, though, with this determined and talented player there was a drawback, his lack of service to his team-mates which had striker Ruud van Nistelrooy continually raising his arms in frustration at not receiving the ball.
However, his weakness was waved aside by coach Marco van Basten.
“Arjen is like that,” said van Basten, who steps down after the tournament and takes over at ailing Dutch giants Ajax.
“He plays so fast that he forgets sometimes to look around him at his options.”
Not much consolation to his team-mates but if he scores the winner in the Euro 2008 final, all will be forgiven.
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