There’s nothing better than feeling the ball at my feet, sprinting from the flank to beat defenders, entering the goalmouth and sending the ball soaring into the net. Mission accomplished!
That’s how I started dreaming about football in my childhood, and perhaps that’s what I enjoy most about the game. There is always a target — either you score or assist others in meeting your team’s goal, which is to win. I’m sure thousands of kids in India who play or watch football on TV, share the feeling of ‘high’ that one gets only by scoring goals.
As a kid, born and growing-up in the Netherlands, I was fascinated by the game from an early age. My parents were supportive throughout, and when I reached the international stage I didn’t have to look beyond my family while searching for a business manager. My father instantly offered support and helped me understand the nuances of professional football.
I was fortunate to be able to spend the early part of my career with FC Groningen and PSV Eindhoven. It prepared me immensely before I was ready for the biggest clubs in the game. And memories of the three years I spent at Chelsea will last a lifetime. I received so much love and affection from the fans there and also won many awards, and Chelsea won the EPL twice in a row. It was exciting to be part of the grand plans of Real Madrid, but my tenure ended earlier than I expected as I moved to Bayern Munich.
It’s challenging to prove oneself at different clubs in different environments and I am glad I could do that by scoring 16 goals in 24 appearances which helped FCB win the Double in the 2009-10 season.
I followed a bit of cricket when India and the Netherlands met in the 2011 World Cup. We are better in football but rankings in sports are not permanent.
I’m often reminded of my own journey in football. I come from a small place in the Netherlands, and if I could go to play for top clubs and represent my country in the World Cup, I’m sure thousands of Indians who want to see their favourite players and their national team to play in the World Cup, will also realise their dream soon!
(Robben played for Netherlands in the World Cup final against Spain in 2010)