Captain Arjen Robben has ended his Netherlands career. The Dutch striker made the announcement right after Tuesday’s final World Cup qualifier against Sweden, which ended in a 2-0 win for the Netherlands.
"It hurts," Robben admitted to reporters in the darkness in Belarus this past weekend. Technically, the Netherlands still had a chance to go through next year’s finals in Russia, but Robben was keenly aware that the chances of overcoming the massive goal difference with Sweden were very remote.
Sweden was beaten by a margin of ‘merely’ two goals, the Netherlands needed seven. It meant that after failing to qualify for UEFA Euro 2016, the Netherlands won’t be competing in the second successive major tournament in a row. The 2018 FIFA World Cup would have been Robben’s last big event, his swan song as it were. “Of course, this hurts. But that’s all part of the game.”
Robben should know. Although, at times, his body let him down, he put his whole heart in serving the Netherlands side. In total, he earned 96 caps and a ranking in the top-10 of most capped Netherlands players. That number could have been much higher if ‘the man of glass’ hadn’t missed out on so many occasions due to injury.