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  Euro Stars    Arjen Robben


Robben's career course altered by a spelling mistake
Arjen Robben
The European Championship finals are normally considered a display window for players aiming for a big transfer, but one of the brightest talents in the Netherlands has already been snapped up.

Arjen Robben, aged just 20, was bought by Chelsea during the winter transfer period and will go to Portugal next month with his immediate future secured.

How often he actually gets to play next season in Chelsea's multi-national team of all-stars remains to be seen, but at least he has been given the chance to make a name for himself in the English premier league, arguably the toughest league in Europe.

Robben was also courted by Manchester United who have been one of a number of major clubs tracking his progress since he made his professional debut at the age of just 16 for Groningen in December 2000.

During his first professional season, both Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven showed serious interest in the young winger, but after Ajax mis-spelt his name in documents presented to him to sign, his father halted their approach.

He did not trust that the club would look after the youngster's interests properly if they could not spell his name right -- and the family opted for a move to PSV Eindhoven instead.

The other benefit of the PSV deal was that the club immediately loaned him back to Groningen for a season so that he could mature more easily nearer home.

The plan worked well. In his two seasons with Groningen Robben played 48 league matches and scored a respectable eight goals from his position.

Twelve months on, his first season at PSV saw him play in 33 games and score 12 times and he earned his first call-up to the Dutch national squad.

Since making his debut in a friendly against Portugal last April, he has played four matches for the Netherlands and scored twice, including the only goal of the game in February's friendly against the United States.

While everyone at PSV expected a major deal in the winter involving either captain Mark van Bommel or Serbia and Montenegro international Mateja Kezman, it was Robben who actually made the move.

During the winter break Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson invited Robben to Old Trafford and offered him a deal to join Manchester United, but when they failed to agree a fee Chelsea moved in, paying PSV 20 million euros for his signature and handing him a five-year contract.

So the boy from the small village of Bedum near Groningen in the northern Netherlands now has the chance to shine on the international stage when the Dutch take on Germany, Latvia and the Czech Republic in Portugal.

Ironically he will be linking up in attack with Ruud Van Nistelrooy, who could so easily have been a team mate at United next season.
- Theo Ruizenaar




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