According to The Sun, Manchester United icon Robin van Persie plans on hanging up his boots at the end of the season.
After spending 18 years at the highest level, Van Persie’s only complaint will be that he didn’t join United earlier and spend a larger period of his time at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Former teammate Rio Ferdinand wrote in his autobiography that while Ferguson’s shock announcement to retire in 2013 “took the wind out of everyone’s sails… the person it hit more than anyone was Robin.”
When quizzed on this, Van Persie admitted it was true. In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Volksrant, he said: “Rio is a great guy. He talks a lot but there is some truth in that.
“My decision to come to Manchester was partly because of the presence of Ferguson, or excuse me, Sir Alex. And he told me he’d stay for another three years. I enjoyed his approach.
“We were once 18 points clear of City but we lost at home 2-1. We were still 15 points ahead but he was furious. Then I realised: he’s a winner.”
Perhaps the best quote from Van Persie’s time at United came after he’d just signed. It was one that came as a blow to fans of his former club, even though his intention was not to offend.
“I always listen to the little boy inside of me in these situations – when you have to make the harder decisions in life. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Man United.”
Without further ado, we take a look at the five most memorable moments from Van Persie’s time at Manchester United, and would like to wish the man a happy retirement once the current campaign concludes.
No. 5: Comeback win vs Southampton heavily influenced by the Dutchman
The Reds were losing 2-1 against the Saints and Van Persie had missed a 62nd-minute penalty, but it was his goal that kept United’s hopes alive in the first-half.
Van Persie netted his second equaliser of the match with just three minutes of normal time remaining, when Ferdinand’s header came back off the post and into the striker’s path. It could not have fallen to be a more natural finisher and with the clock ticking, the comeback was on.
To complete his hat-trick – his first for the club – Van Perise nodded home Nani’s cross to ensure the three points would go back to Manchester.
Welcome to Manchester United!
No. 4: Hat-trick against Olympiakos
United were in crisis mode here.
Under David Moyes it was clear at this stage that Champions League qualification for the 2014-15 campaign was out of equation as far as domestic form was concerned. A tour four finish was almost out of reach and after losing 2-0 in Greece to Olympiakos in the first-leg, the Reds faced an almighty uphill climb to progress from the round-of-16.
Ridiculous as it may sound, people hung on to the prospect of qualifying for the Champions League the following year by lifting the trophy in what was the current season. A massive sense of false hope, which is something that epitomised Moyes’ reign.
In the second-leg Van Persie did the unthinkable to drag United into the quarter-finals, with a hat-trick against Olympiakos to cancel the two-goal-deficit at Old Trafford. He caused havoc throughout the game, a real masterclass of a performance. They could do nothing to prevent Van Persie’s penalty for the first goal, his second showcased world-class goalscoring instinct and the third came from a free-kick at the edge of the box.
No. 3: The bittersweet guard of honour
It has been too long since we’ve been given a guard of honour. The last one came in 2012-13, as Van Persie did what he came to do… win the Premier League!
He was unsuccessful in doing so at Arsenal, who under Arsene Wenger went through such a dull period of mediocrity, and Van Persie became increasingly frustrated until United came knocking with the ambition he liked.
Who would have thought after joining United and winning the league in his first season, the guard of honour would come at The Emirates? It was the icing on the cake after the abuse they’d given him at Old Trafford – to see him win the league and pick up the golden boot award, all for just £24 million, it must have infuriated the Arsenal faithful.
Arsenal are still looking for their first league triumph since 2004.
No. 2: THAT volley
United needed a win against Aston Villa to clinch the title and after registering 26 league goals, RvP finally got his hands on the trophy he craved the most.
How fitting was it that against Villa the same day, the Dutchman would score a hat-trick featuring one of the greatest volleys seen in top-flight football?
The volley came after a long pass from Wayne Rooney from inside his own half, perfectly matching RvP’s forward run, seeing Ron Vlaar’s lack of pace exploited as the clinical Netherlands international volleyed the ball with precision and power past then-Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson picked up on Fergie’s reaction describing it as “goal of the century.”
No. 1: Derby winner
Not only did he reject the chance to join City, as per The Mirror, Van Persie gave us a moment against the Blues we will forever cherish.
It was December 2012, in a game that saw City comeback from a two-goal-deficit, Van Persie would go on to spoil things for Roberto Mancini’s men.
He stood over a free-kick deep into injury-time on the edge of the box. There was a feeling something special was about to happen, then BANG…
Van Persie curled the ball past the wall and goalkeeper Joe Hart to send the away end into overdrive. The 3-2 win had us six points clear at the top of the table and en route to our 20th league title and Ferguson’s 13th as manager.