Arjen Robben is a wonder. The Bayern Munich legend came out of retirement last summer to help his boyhood club FC Groningen deal with COVID-19, and it immediately looked like the move was going to pay off for everyone. In the first game of the season, Robben was in the starting eleven against another of his former clubs, PSV Eindhoven.
Then, disaster. Robben was injured in the first half and was subbed out in the 30th minute. It just looked like things weren’t meant to be. There would be no fairy tale ending to his career.
Seven months and fifty six minutes coming off of the bench later, Robben was put into the starting lineup on Sunday against FC Emmen. The 37 year old would shed tears after the match during an interview with ESPN, but they were tears of joy. Robben was terrific on the day, picking up two assists and going 80 minutes as Groningen won 4-0.
“It was just a long way. One hopes for more, one expects more. Then it’s hard and difficult. And I kept fighting.” Robben continued, “and then there is a game like today and I can take part and have 75 minutes of fun like a child and can still be important for the team with two assists - yes, then I’m happy.”
The result is big for Groningen. It moves them six points clear of the final place in the four-team playoff that the Eredivisie uses to decide the last team to enter Europe next season. With two matches remaining, a single point will secure a playoff spot for Groningen.
You can watch the full highlights from the match below; however, if you’d like to see both of Robben’s assists, the first comes at the 7:00 mark and the second at the 8:25 mark.