Van Persie is Arsenal's new kingpin, says Hiddink
Published 23:00 05/02/11 By MirrorFootball
Robin van Persie is the new, uncrowned king of the Arsenal team.
That’s the view of former Chelsea and Holland boss Guus Hiddink.
The veteran coach recognises that Cesc Fabregas wears the skipper’s armband, but that the 27 year-old Dutch striker has matured to become the Gunners’ kingpin.
Hiddink said: “Robin used to be a right rascal. He used to clash in his early days in Holland with the big stars.
“But the man who was a handful in those days, is now the man who the new rascals look up to. I can see that those lads in the Arsenal team feel comfortable with Robin around.
“Players who have experience as young, difficult players in their career and have developed, have an extra quality.
“In my mind I have always kept the clashes between Robin van Persie and Pierre van Hooijdonk.’’
Van Persie was just 18 years old and had just made it to the first team of Feyenoord, where Van Hooijdonk was the free-kick specialist.
In one of his early appearances, a 50,000 sell-out game, the young Dutchman nicked the ball off Van Hooijdonk for a free-kick just outside the box.
Van Hooijdonk was doing his run-up when Van Persie picked the ball up and moved it half a yard, ready to take it himself.
That sparked an embarrassing and hilarious fight for the ball between the warring duo.
Van Persie claimed that on the right side of the box, he had the right to take it with his left foot. Van Hooijdonk was right footed.
That incident led to bigger clashes in the dressing room and at one stage Van Persie was even sent home 48 hours before the European Super Cup between Feyenoord and Real Madrid in Monaco – for being too rebellious.
Hiddink, full of admiration for the Arsenal striker these days, looks back with a smile on Van Persie’s younger and wilder days.
Hiddink added: “Big Pierre, who really was the star in the team, had his hands full with a young talent with a really strong mind and a strong head. At times Robin was really in his way. You just know in football that those sort of young talents can be misguided at times.
“But the Van Persie from those days has become a really good professional.”
Hiddink believes players like Jack Wilshere will benefit a lot from Van Persie’s help.
Hiddink ended: “Robin is the man who guides these sort of players in a subtle and intelligent way into highest echelon of world class football.”