Robben's eyes on the prize
"If I had to choose between Rooney and Robben, every time I would choose Robben - and for many reasons. For me, it is clear that he has all the attributes to be the best player in the world."
Quite a tribute, and all the more gratifying for its recipient because the words belong to Marco van Basten, his national team coach and someone he considers "the best striker in football history".
The mutual admiration between Arjen Robben and Van Basten is, quite simply, unshakable and, for the Netherlands, the harmonious relationship between the pair can only bode well as their FIFA World Cup opener against Serbia and Montenegro edges ever closer.
Dutch hopes at Germany 2006 are, after all, likely to hinge at least in part on their coach's ability to get the best out of a player who, at his scintillating best, is one of the most dangerous weapons in their attacking armoury.
View Arjen Robben's player profile
Robben, if Van Basten is to be believed, is one of a select and elite group of players capable making this FIFA World Cup his own, and the 22-year-old himself is clearly well aware that, if greatness is to be attained, excelling on the global stage is nothing short of imperative.
Yet, while he acknowledges that "the World Cup is the ideal stage to show the whole world what I'm worth as a footballer", personal glory clearly comes a distant second behind collective success in Robben's list of targets.
The only question is whether the Dutch can go one better than in 1974 and 1978? Robben's answer: a resounding 'yes'.
"I'm very, very excited now," he told FIFAworldcup.com. "I would say there has been a gradual build-up for the past two-and-a-half to three weeks and now you can see in everyone just how close the tournament is.
"But, as a squad, we're excited in a good way, not at all worried. Yes, we're in a very tough group, maybe the toughest of them all, but everyone realised that a long time ago and I think we all feel good about our chances.
"It helps that our preparations have gone very well. Even in the short time we have been together, I don't think there is any doubt that we have made good progress. Everyone looks sharp and I think we are all comfortable in the way the coach wants us to play.
"Don't get me wrong, we can still improve and we will have to, but I do think we can go into the tournament very satisfied with our preparations."
There has certainly been a fierce intensity to the Netherlands' warm-up matches, with a highly competitive clash against Australia typical of the friendlies that Van Basten lined up in advance of the tournament.
Robben said: "I'm quite sure it will not have done us any harm to prepare for a very tough tournament by facing very tough opponents, not to mention the fact the teams we played were all from different continents and had different styles of play."
Robben's Ruud hope
The Netherlands do, after all, face three particularly strong and imposing opponents in a difficult group. Argentina and Côte d'Ivoire will provide their own, unique challenges, of course, but first for Van Basten's side is a meeting with a Serbia and Montenegro team that conceded just one goal in qualifying, and which boasts the goalscoring talents of Robben's former partner in crime at PSV Eindhoven, Mateja Kezman.
"They have done fantastically well, I think they are a very good team," the 22-year-old acknowledged. "I think they can be very proud of how they performed in qualifying, and to lose one goal, well, it's incredible.
"But we just have to take confidence from our own performances because we also had a tough group and came through it very well, beating the Czechs home and away.
"But now we have to start all over again. To be honest, other than maybe giving us a bit of confidence, the qualifiers don't mean anything. It's all about how we perform in Germany now and, like I say, we're confident of doing well."
Robben claims to have numerous reasons for such optimism but, prompted for one, he cites the presence in the Dutch squad of a striker in Ruud van Nistelrooij whom he considers peerless in the all-important art of goalscoring.
Indeed, while injury and ill-luck have combined to ensure that it has taken the Manchester United striker until the age of 29 to make his FIFA World Cup debut, the man who will play to his left in a three-pronged Dutch attack believes the tournament could well end with Van Nistelrooij clutching the adidas Golden Shoe .
"I think Ruud is one of the very best strikers in the world, he has proved that to everyone," said Robben "This might be his first World Cup, but anyone who has seen him play for Manchester United will know all about what Ruud can do.
"For me, I don't think there is anyone as good as him inside the penalty box. If you ask me right now who will finish top scorer in the World Cup, Ruud would be my choice."