In Response to The Flying Dutchman: Arjen Robben

Original Page:

This is a response to the above original post by Andrew Cho.


Fantastic post! I was captivated from the beginning and never felt un-engaged through the entire page. I applaud your technique in writing; it is very exciting and a great method for describing one of the most interesting players of this era. I appreciated the short bibliographical introduction on Robben, and the discussion / juxtaposition on his famous World Cup performances was superb. It reminded me of Newsham’s book and the way she described some of the matches by the Dick, Kerr Ladies. Your post took a step further than her book, however, with the excellently apropos video embeds about the games you mention in your post.

Some of the first things that come to my mind when someone utters the name “Robben” is speed, technique, and infamy of diving (aka “flop” in the US). Any world-class defenders would fear a 1-on-1 against Robben for the dangerous combination of these, and it is understandable that a defender would even attempt to foul on purpose to stop the great Robben from scoring another goal.

It is interesting how fans view his theatrical dives. Some detest his dishonesty and therefore undermine his otherwise phenomenal skill in soccer. Many fans remember his controversial fall in the 2014 World Cup Round of 16 match against Mexico, which lead to a penalty and ended on a 2-1 win for Holland.

While fans may denounce his fall, one should wonder what anyone else would have done in the same position. Much like the case for Maradona’s Hand of God goal, in a match that has so much on the line, the athlete’s priority is to win the game for their country. Robben saw the chance- a much needed one that came during the second loss time- to win the match and continue to the next round, and he took it for his country.

I do admit that when I saw the dive live in 2014, I detested Robben as much as the next commentor on YouTube. However, when I consider the stakes and consider what would have done in that case to help a win for my country, I do not blame Robben for his flop.