Cristiano Ronaldo paved the way, along with Iker Casillas, Ryan Giggs, Juan Sebastian Veron and Franck Ribery. They have all faced and answered questions posed by you, the FIFA.com users. A little while ago, another global superstar agreed to put aside a couple of hours and become an exclusive interview partner for our worldwide fan community. The man in question is Arjen Robben.
The Netherlands ace numbers PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea and Real Madrid among his former clubs, and has been making headlines for Bayern Munich since the summer of 2009. His name is synonymous with success, as he has already achieved the astonishing feat of winning the league in the Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany. The player’s trademark is a lightning-quick thrust down the right flank, a cut inside, and a thunderous left foot shot, a formula which few defences have ever been able to stifle.
Robben is a regular in his national team and appeared in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Final in South Africa, although that ended in an extra time defeat to Spain. In a cruel twist of fate, the 27-year-old returned from the tournament with a serious injury, and missed the first half of the current campaign.
But with perfect timing, Robben has recaptured his best form as he approaches the business end of the Bundesliga season with Bayern, and the Netherlands prepare for a crucial phase in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying.
FIFA.com supervised a very special interview with the feared wide man, as the questions were all asked by FIFA.com users. The player openly discussed his disappointment at losing two major finals last term, talked about his childhood, and considered his best-ever goals.
tanchi (Germany): Thinking back to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which is the greater: disappointment at losing the Final, or pride at coming second?
I think it’ll always be a mixture of both. With hindsight, we can be proud Holland made it to the Final. I reckon that rates as a great achievement, but when you get that close, you want the trophy. We had the chance, so it’s very disappointing that it didn’t work out.
mateus.mno (Brazil): For a player as experienced as you, what’s it like to play at a FIFA World Cup? Is it different when you know a whole country’s rooting for you?
Yes of course! It's a great honour to represent your country, not just at the World Cup, but in every single international. It's very special at the World Cup, because the whole world’s watching. In our case, the entire nation went crazy, every single person was preoccupied with the World Cup. It's fantastic to be a member of the team in the circumstances.
alfolinho (Germany): You personally finished on the losing side in the Champions League final with Bayern Munich, and then the World Cup Final. Were the months after that hard for you, especially as you were out injured for such a long time?
As a footballer, the match that remains in the memory is always the last one. For Bayern it was our defeat in the Champions League final, and for the national team it was the World Cup Final. Talking about it now, you have to say it was an outstanding season. In fact, it could hardly have been any better. If we’d won the finals, it would have been the perfect season, because there wasn’t anything else to win. But at the end of the day, the pleasure at doing so well is outweighed by the disappointment. I’ll never forget these matches.
OriG_LoKi (Saudi Arabia): You’re an extremely versatile player. What’s your favourite position, and where are you most effective?
I reckon it’s the position I currently play, on the right flank. This is something that’s changed over time, fielding players on the opposite side to their stronger foot, and it’s happened with me. I did it a couple of times with Chelsea, and since my spell with Real Madrid, I’ve been over on the right much more often.
Pipsar (France): Can we compare you to Johan Cruyff?
No, I don’t think so. Cruyff is a legend in Holland, he was a superb player, and he’s recognised wherever he goes in the world, so I’d rather not be compared to him. He’s a very special individual.
Bivo22 (Ägypten): Who was your favourite player as a kid?
Brazil star Romario. He was at PSV in the Netherlands when I was a boy.
jefferson_sp (Brazil): Who do you rate as the best young player produced by the Netherlands in recent years?
It's hard to say. My generation has produced a number of good players, who are now 26 or 27. Of the much younger players, Ajax defender Gregory van der Wiel has come on really well.
guimarques (Brazil): What are the main differences between the leagues you’ve played in (England, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany)?
Every league has its own culture, its own identity and its own type of football. It's very physical in England, but technical skill comes to the fore in Spain, where everybody wants to play beautiful football. The standards are very high in Germany too, the teams are physically strong, very disciplined, and very well organised.
ha_999_05 (Saudi Arabia): Where did you have the best spell of your career?
I have fond memories of every club I’ve played for. You can’t single out a particular club, you have good times and less good times wherever you go. I had a great time with Chelsea and Madrid, and I feel really good about being in Munich at the present time.
ApuS2Mary (Brazil): What’s it like playing alongside Franck Ribery?
It's always great. He’s an absolutely world-class player, and I look forward to playing on the same team as him every time.
Toutenkhagoa (France): Who’s the best defender you’ve ever come up against?
There isn’t one who’s made a particular impression on my memory. You keep coming up against such a wide variety of opponents and they’re all trying to defend well. Every opponent has strengths and weaknesses, and you need to be trying to exploit the weaknesses.
4everperu (Peru): Which is your best-ever goal? Where, against whom, and in what circumstances?
Yet again, I really can’t point at a single one. The best goals are always the ones which are important for the team – last season in the Champions League against Fiorentina and Manchester United, or the German Cup semi-final against Schalke, for example. Those were good goals, and vital ones too. But I also scored two goals at the World Cup finals, and it was terrific to be helping the team at such an important tournament.
Trinax78 (USA): How do you maintain a balance between football and family life? And what do you like most about being a father?
Naturally, family life plays an important role. I’ve switched club a few times, and the family has to go along with it, which isn’t always easy. When I’m with my family, I can switch off completely. I’m no longer Arjen Robben the footballer, I’m Arjen Robben the husband and father. It's very important, it does me the world of good, and it’s the most important thing in life.
Out of all the users who had their questions answered by Arjen Robben, we have one lucky winner with special reason to celebrate: Trinax78 from the USA receives a replica Netherlands shirt signed by the Dutch maestro for the question: "How do you maintain a balance between football and family life? And what do you like most about being a father?”