Arjen Robben always had belief in the skills which would make him one of the most successful wingers in European football, according to former team-mate Johan Vonlanthen – who revealed the Dutchman was also a dab hand on the PlayStation.
Robben and Vonlanthen played together in the Eredivisie for PSV in the 2003-04 season – although they did not win a trophy that season, coming second in the league, the Dutch winger showed enough ability to earn a move to Chelsea in the summer.
He went on to enjoy a stellar career, winning titles in England with the Blues, in Spain with Real Madrid and in Germany with Bayern Munich, including the Champions League.
Robben retired in 2019, but last week announced he will come out of retirement for the 2020-21 season with Groningen in the Netherlands, his first ever club.
Former Switzerland international Vonlanthen revealed his admiration for Robben, saying that even as a young player he was fully focused on making the most of his talents and having a successful career – although he did find time to occasionally defeat his team-mate in football’s video game equivalent.
Speaking exclusively to Goal and SPOX, Vonlanthen said: “Arjen’s apartment was just around the corner, at most a hundred metres from mine. I was with him very often and got to know his girlfriend and parents. His life, unlike mine, was very well organised, nothing was left to chance regarding Arjen’s future.
“However, we often found the time to play PlayStation. You couldn’t beat him in Pro Evolution Soccer. The way he played on the football pitch, he also gambled on the PlayStation. It was absolutely amazing what this boy was able to do on the games console.”
On the real pitch, however, was where Robben truly shone with total confidence in his skill – even if it rubbed team-mates up the wrong way on occasions.
Vonlanthen said: “Arjen didn’t care whether he got the ball on the wings or in the middle – he grabbed the ball, went with it alone and tried to finish. Many team-mates were upset that he kept dribbling. Then he said, ‘Okay, that’s fine. Next time I’ll give you the ball’. A few seconds later he started to go alone with the ball again.
“Even then, he had outstanding qualities. I met him when he was 18 years old. I admired how focused and mentally stable he was despite his age. He knew exactly what he could do.
“Usually, young players struggle with fluctuations in performance, this is completely normal. In Arjen I could never see such fluctuations, he just didn’t make any mistakes. Instead, he was the deciding man in almost every game I’ve played with him.”