Bayern Munich’s electrifying Dutchman Arjen Robben put in a glorious performance for his country today in a 2-0 victory over Sweden, scoring both goals himself. It will be his final rhapsody in Orange. The winger has announced his retirement from international soccer.
Robben was visibly emotional before the start of the game, tearing up as the Dutch national anthem played.
He knew he was about to play his final game for the Oranje. The Netherlands faced the impossible task of beating Sweden 7-0 to claim second place in their difficult group (dominated by France). Robben scored a brace by halftime.
The goals proved to be enough for victory today, but far from enough for the Netherlands to qualify. The Netherlands thus were officially eliminated from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The powerhouse team in orange that reached the World Cup final of 2010 and finished third in 2014 has now missed two major competitions in a row. The Oranje also failed to qualify for Euro 2016.
Robben has thus put the final touches on a body of work encompassing 96 games and 37 goals for his country. He has the ninth most caps for the Netherlands and the fifth most goals.
He and his team have had their share of exhilarating victories and heartbreaking losses. One moment that stands out in my mind is when Robben went to comfort his heartbroken son after the Netherlands were beaten by Argentina in the semifinals of World Cup 2014.
Today there were two little Robben boys to cheer for dad (and he also has a daughter):
Robben stated after the game that he was “aware that it was for the last time today.” As for his plans now, the 33-year-old said, “I play for one of the top clubs in Europe and will now concentrate exclusively on Bayern Munich.”
Reflecting on his experience with the Dutch national team, Robben said, “When you wear this jersey and play for the Dutch team, you develop an immense feeling of honor.” And to think it all began with a plucky little kid from outside of Groningen: