RIO DE JANEIRO - Robin van Persie has not played a game pain-free for the last six years he said on Sunday, in an anomalous attempt to assuage fears over his readiness for this week’s start of the World Cup.
“I can’t remember a game over the last five, six years where I haven’t felt some pain somewhere,” said the Netherlands captain, taken off at half-time of their last warm-up game last week because of a groin twinge.
His readiness dominated the Dutch agenda as they prepare to play Spain on Friday, particularly after he showed signs of discomfort again on Saturday during a training session in Rio de Janeiro, where the Dutch have been based since their arrival on Friday.
”The groin complaint I had you can’t even call an injury,“ he told a media conference after participating without any apparent problems at the team’s Sunday session. ”I’ve had so many of those complaints.
“Today was a good training day in which I was able to give it all. I‘m absolutely no longer bothered by my groin. I‘m completely ready for Spain,” he said in a reference to the opening game for the Dutch in Salvador.
”You notice the intent in the players from the little things that show the intensity of the focus, like the conversation between the players. Normally it’s a lot of banter but now a bit more serious.
“Spain are a good side, but so are we,” he warned the world champions as they prepared for a repeat of the 2010 final on only the second day of the 2014 tournament.
”Football is a sport where you have to prove yourself again and again. We have a younger team than four years ago and I‘m curious how we’ll do against a Spain side that has almost the same players as in the previous World Cup.
“I‘m curious how they will fare this time round,” Van Persie told reporters.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ossian Shine; email@example.com; +27 82 8257807; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org; To sign up for our Global Sports Forum chatroom, click here