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Robben celebrates 30th birthday

Turning 30 is a odd milestone for an athlete. Some ignore it. Some dread the day. Some even hide and pretend it’s not happening. But aside from the normal excitement ahead of the Bundesliga restart, Arjen Robben can be totally relaxed about his 30th birthday on Thursday. The previous year has given the Dutch superstar “a certain inner calm,” he says. And a lot of that is due to the events of 25 May 2013.

The score was 1–1 in the Champions League final between Bayern and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley. Jérôme Boateng aimed a long ball from his own half towards the BVB box, Franck Ribéry back-heeled into Robben’s path, and the winger stroked the ball past Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller with the inside of his left boot. Time seemed to stand still as the ball trundled over the line to complete Bayern’s European triumph.

Arjen's idol Romario

It was a goal for the history books and meant Robben sealed his place in the FCB Hall of Fame after four seasons with Germany’s biggest club. Arjen, previously on the losing side in two Champions League finals and the 2010 World Cup final, found personal redemption in London. “I often think back to that moment,” he says, “I’ll never forget how slowly the ball rolled over the line. You’ll have a goal like that with you for ever.“ Nor will anyone ever forget Arjen’s celebration, a mix of ecstasy and disbelief. “It was emotion in its purest form,” said the Dutch star, reflecting on the greatest moment of his career to date, “it’s what you dream of as a little boy.”

The little lad in question was born on 23 January 1984 in Bedum, a town of 10,000 located 10 km to the north of Groningen and some 50 km west of the German border. Brazil marksman Romario was the young Arjen’s idol, but he has long since surpassed the 1994 world champion and World Player of the Year in terms of team trophies: Robben has 17 so far to Romario’s 13.  He has league championship honours from every country he has played in: the Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany. And he has nine winner’s medals with Bayern.

Hungry for more

Robben describes the decision to leave Real Madrid for Munich in August 2009 as “the best of my career to date. I’m simply happy here at Bayern.” His personal record is truly outstanding, with 51 goals and 27 assists from 90 Bundesliga appearances, including 18 goals and 11 assists in his last 27 competitive games for FCB. He enjoyed almost a full year without injury, but that run of luck ended in December last year when he sustained a deep gash to the left knee in a cup tie away to Augsburg.

“He was in unbelievable form before his injury,” said Pep Guardiola, who has made no secret of his admiration for the player: “I'm in love with Arjen. In my career as player and coach I’ve maybe come across one or two players who are as professional as Arjen. His mentality is unbelievable.“

With the second half of the season now looming large Robben has recovered from the injury and resumed team training on Wednesday for the first time in seven weeks. It was an early birthday present for the father of three, who will assuredly enjoy his special day after what he himself says was “a superb year.”. The man described by Matthias Sammer as a “total professional” is still hungry for trophies, although he knows how hard it will be to repeat the five triumphs in 2013. “But it’s also a fantastic challenge,” he declared. Congratulations and go for it Arjen!