On this day nine years ago, Robin van Persie returned to Arsenal for the first time since leaving for Manchester United the previous summer. And the Netherlands international received a guard of honour from his team-mates after propelling the Red Devils to the Premier League title. Not that he enjoyed it, however…
In the summer of 2012, Van Persie was eager to leave Arsenal behind as he entered the twilight years of his career.
And though Manchester City were initially the favourites to secure the signature of the striker, the Netherlands international ended up moving to United instead.
Right away, he made an impact.
Despite competing with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck for a starting berth, Van Persie netted a stunning 30 goals from 48 appearances.
And one of the highlights of the season, for United fans at least, was the sight of the 38-year-old getting a standing ovation from supporters when he returned to Arsenal.
Van Persie’s old team-mates were forced to clap the retired striker onto the field, as well as the other players in Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad.
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“It was a little bit awkward there, so I didn’t feel really comfortable about that.
“From my point of view, it didn’t need to happen. Okay, it’s part of the rules and, from the basics, I did like it but not that particular day.”
Arsenal took the lead against Van Persie’s United through Theo Walcott.
But the Dutchman then had his say, converting from the penalty spot to earn a draw for Ferguson’s team.
Van Persie also scored as United beat Arsenal 1-0 during one of the better days of David Moyes’ reign.
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And he celebrated that goal with vigour, responding to the taunts of the Gunners fans in the process.
Meanwhile, in 2019, Van Persie insisted Arsenal ‘got tired’ of him – which is why he left for United.
“You can compare me being at Arsenal to being married. Me and my wife – Arsenal – were married for eight years,” he told BT Sport.
“After eight years, my wife, possibly got a bit tired of me. Those are the facts.
“If Arsenal are not offering you a new deal… you can have different views on things but the fact is Arsenal never offered me a new deal.
“Then you have to look around. I was ambitious. I still wanted to win the league. That is life.
“I ended up having three options. One option abroad disappeared quickly. Then it was [Manchester] City or Manchester United.
“What people don’t know, during the transfer, loads of things are happening behind the scenes. You have to take a lot on and make a choice based on what your targets are but also deal with the facts.
“One of the main facts was that Arsenal got tired of me.
“That was the starting point – they didn’t offer me a new deal. We had loads of chats with [Arsene] Wenger, with [Ivan] Gazidis.”
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