Arjen Robben has announced that he is hanging up his international boots after the Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, saying he is now keen to focus solely on his club career with Bayern Munich.
The 33-year-old winger went out in style – netting both goals in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Sweden – but the Dutch had simply left themselves with too much to do in their final Group A qualifier. They needed five more goals in Amsterdam to pip the Swedes to a play-off place, and thus missed out on qualifying for a second straight major tournament after UEFA EURO 2016.
“The man of glass has lasted the longest,” Robben ironised, in a reference to his many injury problems over the years. “I’ve been thinking about retiring for a long time, but I wanted to finish this qualification campaign. I’m 33 years old now, I’m playing at a top club in Europe and I want to concentrate on that. It’s a good time to hand over the baton.”
Robben made his Oranje debut back in 2003, and went on to score two goals in the knock-out phase of the 2010 World Cup as the Netherlands lost 1-0 to Spain in the final in South Africa. Four years later in Brazil he scored a brace as the Dutch routed the Spanish 5-1 in their opening game, but they missed out on back-to-back finals after a penalty shoot-out loss to Argentina in the semis.
Watch: Robben has served up some unforgettable moments for Bayern down the years
“Arjen is still one of the best players in the world,” said coach Dick Advocaat, the man who gave a young Robben his first taste of international football all those years ago. “And he is still going to do a great job for his club. The national team will really miss him because he is such a quality player.”
Captain Robben bows out after making his 96th appearance for the Netherlands. His double against Sweden moved him onto 37 goals – level with Dennis Bergkamp in fourth on his country’s all-time scoring list. He also chipped in with 29 assists over the course of a glittering international career.
“I am very proud and honoured to have represented my country at six tournaments,” Robben added. “The most beautiful moments for me were the World Cups in 2010 and 2014, when we had a very tight-knit team. But there have been many beautiful moments. Fourteen years is a long time!”