Interview: Robben still dreaming of titles

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-16 20:57:42|Editor: Lu Hui
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By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Arjen Robben looks younger than ever. His eyes seem to flicker, revealing a steely resolve as his movements appear athletic and bold.

35 is not old when it comes to normal life. "But in football, you could possibly be seen as an older man," Robben told Xinhua in a recent interview, as he approaches the finish line of his career in a Bayern Munich shirt.

But football is still Robben's obsession and desire - both now and when "I started to live my dream and turned my hobby into my job."

Two competitive games remain after ten years of devastating wing play for Munich, both providing the chance to win additional titles. This Saturday, a draw against Eintracht Frankfurt will be enough to secure Bayern's seventh consecutive national title, followed by the 2019 German Cup final against RB Leipzig a week later.

"I hope for a happy ending, and I desperately want to win both titles," he commented.

There is no doubt that the former Dutch international has shaped an era with the all-time record German champions, and he claims not to be finished with football yet.

He has won seven straight Bundesliga titles, a slew of German Cup victories and the 2013 Champions League, where he scored the winning goal in the final as Bayern beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at Wembley.

"That is the most important goal of my career," the Dutchman said, elaborating on the so-called "Robben" move. Cutting in from the right wing to shoot with the left will not only will be remembered as his invention but also as his deadly weapon.

In his early years, the Dutchman played down the center and on the left flank. His former coach at Real Madrid, Juande Ramos, made the move possible by moving him to the right. Despite having to change to the right-hand side, "you still want to use your stronger foot."

To use a trick like that "must come as a surprise, that means you can't do it all the time." It won't work if you never pass or dribble, or continue to go along the flank, he emphasizes.

Robben developed the move to perfection and performed it increasingly brilliantly over the course of a decade. "It seems to work still," he underlines, with a satisfied smile running over his face.

An entire generation of defenders have racked their brains to find an effective antidote and failed.

Now his admirably long career might soon come to an end this summer. "I haven't finally decided about what comes next. I might continue, as I feel I have the energy to go on for a few more years, but at the same time, some injuries tell me it might be time to retire," he emphasized.

It is apparent Robben doesn't want to retire. He still is full of dreams and energy. "Ambitions make you go, they make you run and work hard, but at the same time they can be a burden, as you have the feeling that you can't stop," he says.

In the autumn of his career, Robben has to find the right balance.

His feelings might change when he plays his last game on home soil this Saturday against Frankfurt, and after the final whistle of the Cup final. Professional until the last second seems a fitting motto for him.

Robben always stood for enchanting individuality in the team-sport football.

He regards it as a mistake to force young footballers to try to play equally well with both feet. Stick to your advantages, he says, and try to make them perfect. "If you practice with both feet, you might end up with both feet at seven or eight out of ten. Or you get to ten with one foot and to five with the other. I favor the second solution."

It is 15 years since Chelsea signed him, 12 since he joined Real Madrid, and ten since he decided to face the adventure of joining a Bayern side that he didn't know much about back in 2009. Not many professionals have won national titles in the Netherlands, England, Spain, and Germany.

He calls his former Bayern coach and current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola a genius, adding that he has worked under several great coaches, such as Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal, and Jupp Heynckes.

Joining Bayern turned out to be one of his best decisions ever, he claims. "You don't stay for ten years if you don't feel comfortable." Two of his children were born in Munich. "This makes Munich a matter of the heart for me."

Deciding on his future currently seems his biggest challenge. Going back to the Netherlands to join his home-club Groningen, heading to play in China or the U.S., or slipping into retirement all seem possible options.

"I am extremely excited by the thought of our last game in the Munich arena," Robben underlines, discussing the farewell of 36-year-old Franck Ribery and himself. Tears might come, he admits, "but at present, I only think about performing my signature move one last time and scoring a goal."