Robben: You have to work hard in pre-season

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For most footballers, pre-season is not exactly their favourite time of the year. Intensive fitness training to improve strength, pace and stamina lays the foundations for the players to go into a long and hopefully successful season. It also serves to improve fatigue resistance so that more effective technical and tactical training can then be carried out.

With Arjen Robben, though, you always get the impression he really enjoys this groundwork following the summer break. The Dutchman has been leading the way in every session under the new coaching team of Niko and Robert Kovac. “I still feel that I’m really fit, even at 34,” explained Robben on Friday after the first of the day’s two training sessions.

Robben was among the best in the performance tests that took place at the start of pre-season, and he’s built on that in the daily sessions on the pitch. Whether it’s running, strength or technical drills, the winger gives 100 per cent in every one. It almost seems as if he wants to add a few more percent on top of that.

Pre-season the basis for a good campaign

“When I train, I’m only training for myself,” revealed the Bayern veteran. “Not for the coach or for whoever. You have to be fit. You can only achieve a lot if you’re fit, so you have to put all your energy into it.” That’s what makes Robben a perfect role model, particularly for the many youngsters who have been training with the first team over the last two weeks. “If you want to achieve something in life and in football, you have to work very hard and not get comfortable too soon.”

At his age, Robben knows exactly why the toil of the first few weeks is worth it. “It’s important that you build up a bit at the start. You need a good foundation, a good basis,” he said. “At the moment it’s working very well. We’re working hard but I think that’s exactly what we need in order to be properly fit for the season. That’s why pre-season is so important. You have to work hard.”

The 2010 World Cup runner-up is entering his tenth season at Bayern, but his ambition is unwavering. “The expectation is clear, not just for me but all of us: we want to achieve the maximum, we want to win trophies. We want to win at least one more trophy than last season.” For that, he accepts that his daily routine is reduced to a few essential things at the moment: “The pattern of the day is just eat, train, eat, sleep, train, sleep, train, eat, drink. Nothing else.”