Golden Boot frontrunner Robin van Persie has scored more goals than any other player in their first season for Manchester United. In Sunday’s United Review, the Dutchman reflected on a sensational campaign in which he finally became a league champion…
Robin, you’re a champion. Does it feel as good as you imagined?
It’s even nicer. I’ve waited for this for a long time. Even with Feyenoord I was close but never a champion. As a youth player, though, I was used to winning trophies, right through from U12s to U18s. We won the UEFA Cup at Feyenoord three months after I started and I remember thinking: “Okay, this will happen every year – winning trophies is part of being a footballer.” But I’ve realised since then it’s not that simple. I had to wait a long time to be a champion but it tastes lovely. I feel like I’m floating on a cloud.
Any doubts about whether you made the right choice by joining United must be gone now?
I wouldn’t have moved if I’d had doubts. Instead, from day one I was almost certain we’d win trophies – not in a couple of years but this year. I saw the players training, I saw the way they behaved, the way they lived, their mentality, the way the staff worked, the way the manager and the staff acted... When all those elements combine you end up with a team of champions. It also helps when you have so many players who know how to win. After Manchester City lost at Tottenham I noticed a real focus in the squad. Suddenly the Villa game was like a final: win the match and you get a trophy. I could see in everybody’s faces how determined they were.
Why do you think you adapted so quickly to life at United?
Everybody was so nice to me, everybody wanted to help me and everybody told me they wanted to share the success with me. Playing with team-mates who want to help you and are happy for you if you score is a key ingredient. I also have to say that the fans have been great with me from the beginning. They gave me a lot of confidence. I guess it helped that I scored on my home debut, but I felt like we had a great connection straight away. I love the United fans.
And you must be determined to pick up the Golden Boot?
It would be nice, but the main thing for me was to win the league. Even if I’d have scored half the number of goals and we’d won the league I’d still have been happy.