The Dutchman's ex-trainer at Groningen has stressed that the winger was already an extraordinary player during his teens, and never hesitated calling him up to the first teamEXCLUSIVE
By Jesse Wieten
Former Groningen coach Jan van Dijk has revealed that Arjen Robben was already an incredible player at the tender age of 16.
Van Dijk handed the Netherlands international his first-team debut for Groningen in the Eredivisie match against RKC in December 2000, and the 55-year-old has admitted that he never had any doubts about fielding the youngster, despite his age and inexperience.
"Arjen was only 16, but he was already incredibly good. He had it all, pace, individual skill, and scored plenty of goals. Those characteristics are very important in football. And he was very enthusiastic, never seemed to worry about anything. He was convinced of his own qualities," Van Dijk said to Goal.com.
"We needed someone on the left wing. I always say, 'good enough is old enough'. I never had any doubts about how it would turn out. He was fast and had the ability to beat his marker. It doesn't matter whether you play in the first team or in the Under-17s. He was such a huge talent that the time had come to make his debut."
Van Dijk added that Robben still had a thing or two to learn at the time, but never wanted to change his style of play.
"He was a bit selfish every now and then, just like he is now. Sometimes he passes the ball, sometimes he doesn't. But that's his biggest quality as well. He shouldn't change his style of play. I told him that he shouldn't forget that other players were working hard for him.
"I also pointed out that he should work on his decision making in front of the goal. They often won big with the youth teams. They could win 9-0 for example, with Arjen scoring eight. However, it could have been 15-0 had he passed the ball six more times."
Despite representing clubs such as PSV, Chelsea, Real Madrid and now Bayern Munich, Robben has yet to win his first major European trophy.
However, Van Dijk is confident that things could change this weekend as Bayern lock horns with Chelsea in the Champions League final.
"Bayern have the better team, but it won't be easy. Chelsea's biggest strength is their ability to hit teams on the counterattack.
"Winning the Champions League would be a nice reward for Arjen. However, all the teams sacrifice two players to mark him. That won't make things easy. There's always Euro 2012, though."
Robben last made it to the Champions League final in 2010, when Bayern were beaten 2-0 by Inter.
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