A long career and an illustrious mark left on the pitch, owing to brilliant antics as a winger, marred perhaps only by a string of unfortunate injuries, Arjen Robben has had an eventful journey playing the game and he knows it.
In a well-worded, nostalgia-riddled piece titled ‘Dear 16-year old,’ the Dutch winger summarizes the lessons and moments of his 17-year-long career. With only one year left on his contract with Bayern Munich, the stellar player takes to retrospection.
And highly prominent in his memories are the two seasons he spent at Chelsea under a man named Jose Mourinho.
“He will expect a lot of you … and of everyone. Right away, you’ll feel the difference in playing for a Premier League club. You’ll need to be tougher, stronger, and faster,” wrote the Dutchman.
The 33-year-old further goes on to emphasize how the Portuguese boss molded him to give his best and crafted a full player out of him.
“You’ll have to prove yourself all over again once you get there. And prove yourself to Jose every single week to stay in the lineup. Look, a lot has been said about Jose. He’s a strong personality, he’s demanding. But ever since you started playing, you’ve been just as demanding of yourself.
“In a way, it’ll almost seem like a perfect match. He wants to see your very best, each and every day on the pitch. And all you’ll want to give is your best. Whether in training or in a match.”
Following his stint with the Blues, Robben went on to play for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, all the while proving to be an integral part of the Dutch national team too, almost leading them to World Cup success in 2010.
Mourinho has always been criticized for his approach with young talent. Yet, looking at the recollections of the Dutchman, who was only 20 when he played under Jose, one is left to wonder.
With the likes of Lingard, Rashford, and Martial under his mentorship, what role will the former Chelsea manager play in framing these careers? Will one of them perhaps laud him too in a letter that they might pen 17 years down the line?
Written by Naveen Kelvin
A writer trying to craft the poetry within football. Purpose in life is to Make Good Art.