Memories are curious things; regardless of whether they are positive or negative, everyone is able to identify with the feelings that are stirred up when certain recollections are brought to mind. Perhaps they draw an unconscious smile or send a shiver down the spine, but they can also provoke wistful thoughts of what might have been.
Footballers are no different, as FIFA.com’s new interactive video interviews show, in which the standout performers at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ look back on select moments from the tournament - without knowing which clips they will see. In doing so they express surprise, amusement and reveal their likeable characters: after all, even the greatest players are only human too.
Lionel Messi was the first to take the challenge and now Dutch attacker Arjen Robben follows suit, having inspired the Netherlands’ progress in Brazil with his sensational displays as both creator and goalscorer.
A sixth sense
Robben had spells with PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea and Real Madrid before moving to Bayern Munich in 2009. In the Oranje’s first game at Brazil 2014, he faced former club-mates Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos of defending champions Spain.He did not speak to them directly after the encounter, however. “It’s difficult after the game because they were very disappointed,” Robben said. “They’d lost the match 5-1. They’re exceptional players and it was a privilege to play with them in Madrid. Now we’ve played against each other a few times, but always with a lot of respect.”
Robben scored twice in that match and although he was not on target in the Round-of-16 tie with Mexico, he did win the penalty shortly before the final whistle that helped the Netherlands reach the next round.
Indeed, being fouled is nothing new for the Dutchman, who has to take extra care to protect himself from rough challenges. “It’s a bit of a shame that you showed this video,” the 31-year-old said, turning on the charm. “In the same game there were a lot of fouls. In the first half a defender broke his ankle by kicking me. It was also a penalty. There are many examples of fouls and you need to have a kind of sixth sense in order to see what’s coming. You have to try to protect yourself but it’s not always possible.”
Unfortunately for Robben, he did not see Javier Mascherano approach in the semi-final against Argentina, just when he looked certain to score: “I was more focused on the ball and looking at the goalkeeper and where I was going to shoot. We’ll never know what would’ve happened if he hadn’t been there with his big toe and the ball had gone in. But that’s football.”
More from Robben...
If you would like to hear what else Robben had to say then simply click on the video above and discover his thoughts on the comprehensive 5-1 thrashing of Spain in the Netherlands’ opening World Cup game, the gripping last-16 encounter with Mexico - last-gasp penalty included - the goalkeeper swap in the match against Costa Rica, the chance he missed against Argentina and Germany’s triumph in the Final at the Maracana.