Robin van Persie big interview: I love the ‘We don’t need Batman, we’ve got Robin’ banner
Published 23:00 31/12/11 By Bill Mills
Robin van Persie has been the goal-scoring sensation of 2011.
In any critical assessment of the Premier League’s best players, Van Persie must rank among the absolute elite.
At times during the past 12 months, he has shown a skipper’s example and virtually carried the Gunners with his goal-scoring exploits.
The imminent return of on-loan hero Thierry Henry will provide Van Persie with some support for the next couple of months.
But, at 34, Henry will be yesterday’s man as manager Arsene Wenger plots his club’s future.
Here, Van Persie answers the key questions Gunners fans want to know.
How do Arsenal cope with losing so many big-name players?
RVP: “Every big player who leaves Arsenal is a massive loss. But no player here is bigger than the club.
“Arsenal will always come first. You name them – Henry, Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp. People saw these stars shine and they thought: ‘Is there life after Vieira, Pires or Bergkamp?’
“But look at what happens here. At Arsenal you always see young, fresh talent grow into the same role as those stars who have left. Other players have replaced them.
“Look at Walcott, Ramsey and Wilshere. The great thing about Arsenal is that at this club we give young players real opportunities to grow and develop.’’
Why do you look so much fitter than in other seasons? You seem to benefit from it, considering your great form and goals in 2011
RVP: “In 2011, I was involved in every Premier League game. I didn’t miss one. I also started every game except Stoke City, but against Stoke I came off the bench and scored two goals. There has been a turnaround in my career. I have got to know my body a lot better and I decided to make more of my own choices when it comes to treatment.
“There was also a period in my career when I always wanted to give something extra against the big clubs. It probably has a lot to do with getting older or more mature.
“But I don’t really care who my next opponent is any more, whether it’s San Marino with Holland or Chelsea or Man United with Arsenal. In England, you have a great expression — ‘The occasion never gets to him’.
“Great players must always produce and at any time or in any game. Give them a ball and a pitch and they will show what they’ve got. That relaxed, calm spirit you don’t really have when you are young.’’
Arsenal fans want you to stay so much. How do you react to that?
RVP: “It is the biggest compliment I could wish for. Arsenal fans are real lovers of the game. They don’t miss anything in the stadium and are there for the team and the individual players. I have to admit I love banners like ‘We don’t need Batman, we’ve got Robin’ and stuff like that.
“I also love it when I run on to the pitch and I hear the entire crowd roar. What bigger compliment could I wish for as player?
“At Arsenal, the fans so want me to do well. And that gives me a kick. That’s what I do it for. As a thank you, I want to give them so much in return on the pitch.’’
What do you love about London and do you still miss Holland?
RVP: “English people are great to be with, and I find life absolute fun here in London. I see how my kids, (son and daughter) pick up the culture, the manners and values of England. They make me melt sometimes when I see how they are here in London.
“When my son Shaqueel has half-term, he doesn’t even want to go back to Holland. He wants to be here with his friends. The place where we live is brilliant. Great restaurants and a beautiful park outside our house.
“I also appreciate that I can walk and move in London in a relaxed way. People don’t jump on me in the area where I live. Well, sometimes. This week I went 10-pin bowling with my son and things got a bit out of hand with the kids, but that was fun too."