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Robin van Persie prepares for final shot at Holland redemption as Euro 2016 failure threatens to bring curtain down on striker's 100-cap international career
More from Sports
- Holland take on Czech Republic on Tuesday night in a must-win game
- Dutch also need Iceland to beat Turkey to salvage Euro 2016 play-off spot
- Robin van Persie was benched for the 2-1 win against Kazakhstan
- The striker's fall from grace in the last two years has been stunning
- Van Persie won Manchester united the Premier League in 2012-13
- But was shipped out of the club and joined Fenerbahce in the summer
- Euro 2016 failure could spell the end of the 32-year-old's Holland career
How did it come to this?
On Tuesday night Robin van Persie will be at the Amsterdam ArenA as Holland take on the Czech Republic seeking victory and favours from elsewhere just to snaffle a Euro 2016 play-off spot.
The 32-year-old, not long ago one of the best strikers in the world, may well perform his final international duties watching his compatriots' desperate bid for a last chance from the bench.
Van Persie has suffered a spectacular fall from grace in club and international football
The former Manchester United striker (right) was left on the bench for Saturday's 2-1 win against Kazakhstan
It is a stunning fall from grace for the former Manchester United man, credited with winning the Premier League title almost single-handedly in 2012-13.
Last June he scored twice as the Dutch, who would eventually finish third, destroyed champions Spain 5-1 at the World Cup.
His first goal, the equaliser, was as good a diving header as you will ever see.
But when Van Persie returned to United along with Louis van Gaal, something was amiss. The new contract he craved never came as he laboured towards a tally of 10 goals - a far cry from his 30 just two years previously.
Time after time his manager bemoaned a lack of pace up front. The writing was on the wall.
A move to Fenerbahce, with a year remaining on his Old Trafford deal seemed like a rung too far down the ladder at the time.
Van Persie scored twice against Spain during Holland's 5-1 World Cup win, including this incredible header
Van Persie celebrates with then Holland boss Louis van Gaal as the Dutch went on to finish third
When Van Gaal joined Manchester United it was meant to be a match made in heaven but
However, there has been no delight in Turkey.
Rather than excelling at a lower level Van Persie, who presumably moved over fears of a lack of game time at United, has found himself repeatedly on the bench.
So far he has scored just three from five starts, coming off the bench four times.
Amidst this backdrop it emerged that Van Persie was not benched for Holland's 2-1 victory in Kazakhstan because of a training ground dust-up with Memphis Depay but because coach Danny Blind thinks he is not fit and has been playing through the pain barrier.
What a mess.
Van Persie made his debut for Holland in 2005 and came off the bench on Saturday to earn 100th cap
Former Holland coach Marco van Basten congratulates Van Persie after his debut against Romania in 2005
A young Van Persie (right) poses alongside Wesley Sneijder (bottom) and Arjen Robben in 2003
Of course there could be redemption. Maybe he starts and leads Oranje to victory while already-qualified Iceland win in Turkey. Or he could even come off the bench to secure a dramatic reprieve.
It is unlikely. Turkey, on the back of a fine win in Prague, will go into the game against the surprise package as heavy favourites. In reality, whatever happens in Amsterdam will probably be meaningless.
Should Holland fail to qualify it is likely to spell the end of Van Persie's 100-cap international career. At 32, he would be closing in on 36 at the next World Cup (should the Dutch qualify).
There may well be another domestic chapter.
Van Persie moved to Fenerbahce in the summer but has found himself on the bench at his new club
Van Persie is credited with single-handedly firing Manchester United to the Premier League title in 2012-13
When Van Persie left United there were few suitors. This, no doubt, was down to his salary. At north of £200,000-a-week those that needed him could not afford him.
Hope may come in the shape of the new TV deal.
As Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rumennigge recently pointed out, when the first instalments of the £5.1bn drop next season it will make mid-ranking Premier League outfits financially more powerful than some of Europe's biggest clubs.
Rummennigge bemoaned that impact but for the former Arsenal man it could mean salvation.
While his international career may splutter out this evening, this may not be the last we see of Robin van Persie.