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Arjen Robben – Bayern Munich’s Flying Dutchman

Arjen Robben
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Arjen Robben played his final game for Bayern Munich on Saturday night, as the Bavarians won the DFB-Pokal for a ninth domestic double in 19 years by beating RB Leipzig 3-0.

It is an end of an era at Bayern Munich, as their leaders Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben leave the club after amazing 10 years spent together at the Allianz Arena.

The duo will go down in history as arguably the greatest partnership the Bavarians have ever had, guiding the club to eight Bundesliga titles, five DFB-Pokal trophies, and three Champions League finals. They won only one though, in 2013 against Borussia Dortmund, as Arjen Robben was the hero, netting the winner in the 89th minute of the game.

Robben is a product of the Groningen Youth Academy, where he made his professional debut back in 2000. He established himself as one of the hottest prospects in Dutch football, which was enough to convince PSV to spend €3.9 million on his services.

The winger made an immediate impact at his new club, netting 12 goals in 33 league appearances. He won the Eredivisie in his first season in Eindhoven and was named “PSV co-player of the year” along with striker Mateja Kežman, with whom he formed an attacking partnership still fondly referred to by PSV fans as “Batman and Robben”

He also won the Johan Cruijff Prijs, being named the Dutch Football Talent of the Year for the 2002-03 campaign.

His excellent performances in the Eredivisie attracted the attention of several European giants, including Manchester United’s. Robben traveled to London and met United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, but his offer was too low for PSV to accept it.

That’s when Chelsea new owner, Roman Abramovic entered into the race for the flying Dutchman offering €18 million, which was more than enough for the Eindhoven side. Robben moved to Stamford Bridge during the summer of 2004, but didn’t make his debut until November, as he suffered an injury in a pre-season friendly game against Roma.

The winger spent three years in England, winning back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006. He also won two League Cup trophies, as well as the FA Cup in his final season with the Blues.

In the summer of 2007, Arjen Robben joined Real Madrid for a reported fee of £24 million. He won the Spanish league in his debut season in La Liga, but left the club after only two years in Madrid, as Florentino Perez had acquired Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Kaka before the start of the 2009-10 campaign.

The Dutchman joined Bayern Munich and probably made the best choice of his entire career. He exploded in his first season at the Allianz Arena, netting 23 goals across all competitions.

The Bavarians won a domestic double and reached the Champions League final, where they lost 2-0 to Inter, while Arjen Robben was named as the Bundesliga Player of the Year.

Robben suffered defeat in another big final only two months later, as Spain beat the Netherlands in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.

He scored two goals in the competition, including the third in the 3-2 victory over Uruguay in the semi-finals, but missed Netherlands’ best opportunity in the final, as Iker Casillas denied him in a one-on-one situation.

The Dutchman was the villain in Bayern’s defeat against Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League final, missing a penalty kick in the extra time, which would have probably won the title for the Bavarians.

He corrected his mistake in the next season though, netting a late winner against Borussia Dortmund in the all-German final at Wembley in 2013.

Robben is leaving Bayern Munich after successful 10 seasons spent in Germany. He will always remain as one of the most loved players at the Allianz Arena.