Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie doubles up as Player of the Year by winning writers' award

Arsenal captain thanks Wenger after scoring 34 goals from new central striking role this season

It was one double that few at Arsenal saw coming, when Robin van Persie arrived in London as a raw talent in May 2004. The Dutchman, who yesterday added the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award to the Professional Footballers' Association version he was voted on Sunday, has taken his game to a level that perhaps not even he could have envisaged.

Now at the peak of his powers, the 28-year-old Netherlands forward has become the near-perfect front man, having scored 34 goals in an injury-free season in which he has almost single-handedly dragged the Gunners back up into the Premier League's top four.

While Van Persie fully deserves all these plaudits from both fans and football journalists alike,his success is yet another example of the vision of the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, in moulding such huge potential into one of the club's crown jewels.

After joining Excelsior's youth squad at 14, Van Persie moved on to Feyenoord, where he broke into the first team at 17 and was named the Dutch Football Association's Best Young Talent at the end of the 2001-02 season.

However, his relationship with the then Feyenoord manager, Bert van Marwijk, deteriorated and he was eventually sold to Arsenal in a cut-price £3m deal, with the Gunners hoping they had found their long-term replacement for Dennis Bergkamp.

It took him some time to fully step out of his countryman's shadow, but once again Wenger's faith proved justified in the man appointed club captain following the sale of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona last summer.

"I never really thought that I would end up as a main striker," said Van Persie, who was an integral part of Van Marwijk's national squad which reached the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa.

"I actually never played there before – I did it a couple of times at youth level, but it was nothing really special. The boss didn't buy someone else [when Emmanuel Adebayor left] because he was convinced I could do it. I wasn't so sure. 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'."

Van Persie added: "Sometimes, you just question yourself, if you are good enough at it. Those answers came. I have been for a while now convinced I actually can play as a main striker.

"Let's see where it ends. Let's see how far I can push myself, see where my maximum lies." Arsenal supporters will be praying that it comes at the Emirates, as Van Persie is yet to agree a contract extension past the end of next season.

Wenger sings the praises of his captain, who has equalled the club record for calendar goals in the Premier League of Thierry Henry and could add the 2011-12 Golden Boot. "The way it goes beyond my level of expectation is the number of goals he has scored. Where he is sensational as well is as a captain. He has done extremely well on and off the field," the manager said.

"Robin has a very healthy life, very focused on football – he takes care of everything. He is like Thierry Henry in that. When you look at great players, they are on the move, everybody else stands and watches the ball. That is the difference. It's not the way you finish, it is the way you move that gets you into the position. Robin is world class."

Doubly so, Arsenal's fans can say now.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent