Dutch football legend Arjen Robben retired from youth club FC Groningen on Thursday, bringing an end to an illustrious career spanning two decades. Considered one of the best wingers of his generation, Robben joined FC Groningen last year, after a period when he won awards at Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the following years.
“I have decided to end my career as a footballer. A very difficult choice. Thank you all for your warm support,” Robben wrote on Instagram. The news was later confirmed by FC Groningen.
“While everyone around FC Groningen expected and wanted Robben to continue for another season, they decided to stay after much deliberation,” the club said in a statement. One of the fastest and most skilled senior dribblers, with a devastating left foot, Robben scored over 200 club-level goals and 37 for the Netherlands, the last in October 2017 against Sweden in Amsterdam.
Following his debut for FC Groningen in the 2000–01 season, Robben moved to PSV in 2002–03. His first move abroad came two years later, when he left for Chelsea and played a major role in helping the West London club win the English Premier League in 2005–06.
Before joining Bayern in 2009, Robben moved to Real Madrid for a reported fee of around €35 million, where he played a major role in the club’s success in southern Germany. The Dutchman scored his last league goal for Bayern in May 2019, scoring 99 goals in 201 Bundesliga matches.
A month later, Robben said that he would retire, but was lured back to play for FC Groningen the previous year. Playing for the Netherlands, Robben was instrumental in leading the Dutch team to the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa and third in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“I must honestly say that I am disappointed with my playing time. I knew this could happen, but I accepted the challenge. I didn’t feel good and confident enough. The footballer’s heart wants to continue… but the decision to give up is the right and realistic one,” Robben said.