No-one has scored more goals for the Netherlands than Robin van Persie. The Manchester United forward claimed the all-time record in October of last year, surpassing the current assistant coach, Patrick Kluivert, with his 39th, 40th and 41th strikes for the national team in an 8-1 trouncing of Hungary.
That hat-trick was the highlight of a spectacular Brazil 2014 campaign for Van Persie, who scored 11 times in nine appearances to finish as the European Zone’s leading marksman. A trio of assists were thrown in for good measure as this multi-talented striker re-affirmed his central importance to the team being built by Louis van Gaal.
The Netherlands coach underlined his belief in Van Persie by naming him captain last June, stripping Wesley Sneijder of the role, and that controversial decision has been justified in the time since. The Manchester United star has certainly improved steadily with age, maturing from the raw but talented winger first seen at Feyenoord into one of the world’s most accomplished centre-forwards. His goal tally over recent years for club and country reflects that. In 2012/13, he topped the English Premier League goalscoring chart for the second season in succession – the first player to do so for two different clubs (Arsenal and United) since Three Lions legend Alan Shearer.
He is, though, coming into the FIFA World Cup™ at the end of his most difficult and injury-plagued season in some time, with United’s struggles widely attributed to the infrequency of his appearances. Van Persie will also be keen to improve on his scoring record at major finals, having endured a miserable UEFA EURO 2012 and been less than prolific at his previous three EURO and World Cup outings.
But with Van Gaal set to make him the focal point of the Dutch attack, the smart money would be on the Oranje’s record goalscorer adding a few more to his tally on Brazilian soil.