November 20th 2018 – a normal day for FC Bayern. The players return one by one from the international break, the team training takes place in front of the public. Another player is working hard for his comeback on a side pitch. It’s Arjen Robben.
For him, too, there’s nothing left on the agenda today that could cause any excitement. But on the other side of the pitch is where we are. Two bloggers who will take a big step for Miasanrot.de on this day. There is no routine here. Christian knows, how it feels to meet the idol of one’ s childhood in person. One year ago he interviewed Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
For me, however, this is uncharted territory. Only Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger rank ahead of Arjen Robben in my completely subjective list of favourite players. Later we sit at Säbener Straße, where press conferences are held regularly. Behind this room are two small, windowless rooms. We may choose one, to do the interview with Robben.
“The Flying Dutchman”
We spend a good two hours alone there. They make us wait. That is normal, we are later told. In these two hours we have a lot on our mind. How will he react to us? Have we chosen the right questions? Maybe something will come up? Can we cover everything? The anticipation was huge, at least I was really nervous. What if the reverence is so great that I screw up the interview?
Then it happens. In the hallway the light goes on. Hans-Peter Renner, who accompanied us throughout the morning, shouts: “There he comes. The Flying Dutchman!” A broad grin radiates over my nervous corners of my mouth. When Robben comes around the corner, he also has a broad smile on his face. His calmness and charisma are immediately transferred to me. He greets us friendly, first offers us the room we have chosen before and shortly afterwards the “Arjen”.
Nervousness is no longer to be felt. No voice trembling, no wet hands, no slip of the tongue – just looking forward to the time ahead with Arjen Robben. An idol for many Bayern fans. He made the Wembley goal. But on this day I notice again that it is not this goal that makes him an icon for me.
Without question, many would not remember him so much if he were not such an outstanding footballer. But so are other players. Above all, Arjen Robben is a special personality. A professional through and through. He does not only pay attention to his nutrition, correct training and a good work load management. Above all, he pays attention to respect.
This is a given for him. He was educated like that. Again and again he talks about experiences from his childhood and about the fact that he always wanted to push his head through, but honesty and respect play an overriding role for him.
Also in the conversation with us it becomes clear what a great person this Arjen Robben is. For many he is a superstar. Millions pile up on his account, here and there there there have been accusations of arrogance. Above all, however, it is his tunnel vision on the pitch that at some point earned him the nickname “Alleinikow”. He is a diva, it was said especially in the first years in Munich.
Respect comes first
In his long career, his dives made sure that not everyone could understand why Arjen Robben is associated with respect. But if you look at the person behind the footballer, it becomes clear that this is not a star with allure. Robben would like to play football and be there for his family for the rest of the day. He sees himself as a normal person and he acts like one.
In the interview he could feed us with plain vanilla textbook answers. But he doesn’t. After 25 minutes the official time is over, but Robben continues to answer our questions. He took the time. Also because he noticed that there were two people who had prepared intensively. But above all out of respect. He was aware of the importance of this conversation for us.
Perhaps that is what distinguishes him from many others. On the pitch he is an animal. Robben does everything during the 90 minutes and beyond to make his team successful. I remember that look when he got off the bus before the Champions League final in 2013. Determined, ambitious, ready for all scenarios, Robben stood for a team that emerged with great willpower one year after the biggest disappointment of their career.
A man of many moments
Great moments and pressure make him stronger, he tells us. He’s a player who pushes the boundaries of success. Only his fans can accept that dives are also part of it. Because they appreciate him too much. The Robben on the pitch is a different person. But he is one of those who gave his all for FC Bayern over ten years.
An artist with the ball who cuts inside and puts the ball into the goal with tenderness. But also a hard worker. A mentality monster that sets a good example and pulls many players along.
There are players one could undoubtedly associate with a particular moment in their career. For Arjen Robben, that would be the Wembley moment. But if you don’t tell the storyline, it’s only worth half as much. The story of Arjen Robben is a heroic story. He is a protagonist who almost scores his team to a triple in the first season with several dream goals. The Manchester volley, the Florenz hammer – Robben came, cut inside and helped FC Bayern back into the top echelons of Europe.
The Hero Story
But a good story also requires setbacks. The penalty kicks against Dortmund and Chelsea in 2012, countless injuries and the whistles of a minority in the Allianz Arena. He quickly became a fallen hero. But he got up, wiped his mouth off and catapulted himself into the history books of FC Bayern.
And yet he insists that this was not his exclusive success. Asked about the Robben Song of the Südkurve and this unique moment, Robben always gets excited. About the team, the fans, the whole club, but not about himself. Events like the Ballon d’Or are unimportant to him.
Respectful, friendly, always at eye level and, by the way, a really good footballer. Arjen Robben leaves FC Bayern with much more than a Champions League title and his goal. He is a role model and an inspiration. You can learn from him for life. His personality will be missing at FC Bayern. It suits him that he announced his end in Munich without much fuss at a fan club. He’s the star who doesn’t want to be one.
It would be nice if Arjen Robben would one day return to FC Bayern. Until then, we wish him as successful a remaining season as possible and a great time with his family. Servus, Arjen and see you soon!