LONDON, England, April 19 – Arsenal goal machine Robin van Persie has revealed how he feared he wouldn’t be up to the task of leading the Gunners’ forward line.
His comments appear extraordinary given the 28-year-old Dutch international striker is on course to score 40 goals this season.
However, van Persie insisted he was concerned about moving from the second striker position compatriot Dennis Bergkamp perfected during his time with Arsenal and becoming the focal point of the attack when manager Arsene Wenger sold Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City nearly three years ago.
“I never really thought that I would end up as a main striker,” van Persie told Arsenal player.
“I actually never played there before — I did it a couple of times at youth level but it was nothing really special. We only tried it when Adebayor went.
“The boss didn’t buy someone else because he was convinced I could do it.
“I wasn’t even convinced about it. I wasn’t so sure, because I didn’t really play there so much.
“Then, in pre-season, we had a game against Inter Milan. I scored a good goal, played well and he told me after the game, ‘You see? It will work’.
“That was the first step to being a main striker.
“Sometimes, you just question yourself, if you’re good enough at it. Those answers came.
“I have been for a while now convinced that I actually can play as a main striker. I just didn’t know, and now I believe.
“Let’s see where it ends. Let’s see how far I can push myself, see where my maximum lies.”
But with Arsenal set for yet another season without a trophy — their last piece of major silverware was the 2005 FA Cup — and van Persie having just one year left on his contract, many Gunners fans fear the forward could be following the likes of Adebayor and Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas in leaving the Emirates.
Their concerns will not have been eased by the sight of van Persie talking to international team-mate Ibrahim Afellay at Barcelona’s London hotel on Tuesday ahead of the Catalan giants Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.