• News

Robin van Persie recalls his ‘dream’ volley at Man United

Getty Images

Robin van Persie has recalled his sensational volley against Aston Villa that set Manchester United on their way to the 2012/13 Premier League title.

After eight years at Arsenal, Van Persie made the controversial switch to United in a bid to finally win his first league crown in England.

The Dutch striker enjoyed a remarkable debut campaign at Old Trafford and won the Golden Boot award with 26 goals in all 38 of United’s matches to help them to a record 20th league title.

Van Persie was also voted as the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year. In fact, Barcelona star Lionel Messi even labelled him the “complete player”.

Undoubtedly, though, the finest moment of Van Persie’s United career came when he scored a hat-trick against Villa to secure the Premier League title with four games remaining.

The former Netherlands international’s second goal proved to be a highlight as he volleyed in Wayne Rooney’s long ball from around the halfway line (see video below).

And, evidently, it’s still a moment he very much cherishes.

“There were so many special moments along the way, but probably the most special was the night we won the title against Aston Villa,” Van Persie told the club’s website.

“When I look back on the best moments of my career, that night ranks very high.

“Before the game, Wayne and I had a little chat on the pitch, and we talked to each other about him finding me in behind the Villa defence.

“We’d worked on it in training, too. There are a few things that have to come together, though, from the moment Wayne hits the pass.”

Van Persie added: “First, you’re making a run for your space. Then, when you’ve finally got your space, you have to count your steps, because if my last step is too big or too small then I can’t really connect right.

“I have to have a quick look to see roughly where the ball will go. Then, just before I hit it, I need to have another look because I know already where the goal is. Of course, the pass has to be right as well.

“It’s basically like taking a golf shot, but you’re doing it on the run. You have to get five or six things exactly right at once: the pass, the movement, the steps, the connection, the direction.

“You need a bit of luck too because if one thing is slightly off, the ball doesn’t go in. Everything came together in that moment.

“You practise these things, you plan them, but when it comes off in a game like that, in the way it did, that’s what you dream of.

“For me, that goal was a dream.”

Van Persie managed 58 goals and 21 assists in 105 appearances for United between 2013 and 2015.

After a spell in Tukey at Fenerbahce, the Dutchman returned to old club Feyenoord in 2017. He won the KNVB Cup and Johan Cruyff Shield before retiring from football earlier this month.