Blog Archives

Arjen Robben’s Final Finishing Touch

Arjen Robben, the 35-year-old Mr. Wembley himself, has officially retired from professional soccer that began in 2000 with Dutch club Groningen.

“I have decided to put an end to my career as a professional football player,” Robben said in a statement.

His statement included the following.

“It is without doubt the most difficult decision I have had to make in my career. A decision in which ‘heart’ and ‘mind’ collided.”

The former Bayern Munich #10 — as well as the #11 for the Netherlands National Team and Real Madrid, and various other numbers for Chelsea, PSV and Groningen — has chosen to end his esteemed professional playing career after 19 years. Mr. Robben’s exciting style, though painfully obvious, was painfully lethal for opponents. It didn’t matter if every defender and their grandmother knew he was going to cut inside for a deftly-placed shot or pass, Arjen Robben succeeded with beautiful, spectacular goals.

And that feat alone is remarkable. Think about it. Imagine knowing exactly what you have to do to stop something from happening, but being powerless to stop it from happening?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is another level of world-class talent.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is Arjen Robben.

This blog post is difficult for me as Arjen Robben is my favorite soccer player of all-time. And now the left-footed maestro is done.

It’s trying to put everything into words because I could go on and on and on…Instead, I’ll put just a few things into words as an initial reaction.

I’ve written many blog posts about him with Bayern Munich and the Netherlands throughout the years, including one in late May as a reaction to his final chapter with Bayern Munich.

Here’s an excerpt.

I actually got to see Arjen Robben play in the Allianz Arena for a Champions League game against Atlético Madrid back in late 2016. Bayern Munich won 1-nil on a Robert Lewandowski goal in, let’s say, chilly weather. I believe the thermometer read 20-degrees.

Regardless of having to wear a couple extra layers, which was no big deal at all for the awesome prize of seeing Arjen Robben and Bayern Munich battle (and defeat!) Atlético Madrid in a Champions League match inside the stunning Allianz Arena in Munich. The entire experience was amazingly unforgettable.

His wonderfully impressive tenure leading the Dutch National Team as part of the golden generation with Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie won’t soon be forgotten.

This golden generation for the Oranje played the beautiful game the right way. They deserved to win the World Cup, most especially the team from 2014. However, falling just short of ultimate soccer glory just seems to fit with the unfortunate fortune of the Dutch National Team: The best soccer nation to have never won the World Cup and the soccer nation other winners model their teams after in the same glorious pursuit.

With the aforementioned golden generation, the Dutch reached the semifinal of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final against Spain and reached the quarterfinals of the 2008 UEFA Euro tournament.

As posted on Bleacher Report’s Twitter account today:

Arjen Robben will be remembered as a legend at Bayern Munich, highlighted by his iconic cuts inside and laser-focused blasts that rattled many nets across Europe. His greatest moment with FC Hollywood was his unforgettable game-winning goal against Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final with an assist from his Robbery partner-in-crime Franck Henry Pierre Ribéry in the 89th minute in front of over 86,000 fans packed into London’s Wembley Stadium.

Arjen Robben will be remembered as a legend and an icon with the Netherlands. His lasting legacy will be as one of the — if not the greatest — wingers of all-time.

Thank you, Arjen Robben. You are an original, world-class footballer. 

Bob Ley’s Legacy Is Exceptional, Sportive, Professional & Newsworthy

Bob Ley, 64-years-old, was one of the original ESPN SportsCenter reporters from 1979. Now, 40 years later, Bob Ley has announced he’s leaving the same yet different ESPN.

In addition to his sincere thanks to ESPN senior leadership and his loyal ESPN viewers for the past four decades, Mr. Ley posted the following on his Twitter account. This is an excerpt.

“Now it’s time for a change.

I will be retiring from ESPN, as of the end of this month. 

To be clear, this is entirely my decision. I enjoy the best of health, and the many blessings of friends and family, and it is in that context that I’m making a change.”  

In the final part of his Twitter statement, Mr. Ley ended with the following.

“In September, I signed off my last show saying, “I’ll catch you on the flip side.” Now it’s time to take that vinyl off the turntable (ask your folks), flip it over, and drop the needle on the B-side. There are always great cuts, and hidden gems on the B-side. 

Thank you for a great run.” 

What is Bob Ley’s next step? He didn’t say.

One thing we do know is that he is one of the original anchors who helped make ESPN the worldwide leader in sports. He has been — and surely will continue to be — a reliable sports journalist with wit who delivered uncompromised trust and authority to his audience. And as a soccer fan, I always enjoyed his high-quality analysis and reporting during ESPN’s past coverage of the FIFA World Cup.

As a matter of fact, the image below is Mr. Ley’s Twitter profile picture.

Bob Ley

As a matter of another fact, Dan Patrick — an anchor of ESPN from 1989-2006 — shared his thoughts on Bob Ley’s retirement announcement from the “DaDaDa, DaDaDa” network on his radio show.

Bob Ley will be viewed as one of the standard-bearers and nostalgic reference points for what made ESPN the worldwide leader in sports. He did his part by taking journalism as seriously as he took having fun and covering sports as a future unfolds in which that revolutionary network is being challenged by a wide variety of sports network upstarts — and established network giants — attempting to replicate those original (and wildly entertaining) sports journalists with those iconic four letters sewn on their jackets.

Thank you, Bob Ley.

And good luck with your future, which will hopefully involve covering the beautiful game in either human form or in 16-bits.

Damn, Daniel’s Almost Done

Sometimes, the messenger rises above the message.

On that note, 60-year-old Daniel Day-Lewis announced a while back that he was going to retire from acting. This news was a little surprising, particularly given his age and that he still appears to be at the top of his game. Nevertheless, the trailer for his last film, Phantom Thread, recently debuted online. As mentioned in the opening, the story of this film may not necessarily excite one’s cinematic senses, but the lead actor will. Regardless, one should be interested in this forthcoming movie for a couple things:

  • Phantom Thread is the final film in the storied career of acting savant Daniel Day-Lewis. This is it.
  • Of all the films Daniel Day-Lewis could have made his swan song, why did he choose Phantom Thread?

Let’s get the first glimpse and try to decipher an early hypothesis to the second question above.

Whatever the reason for why Daniel Day-Lewis chose to leave audiences on Phantom Thread, there’s no ambiguity in the fact that he fashioned together one hell of a great career.

From 2nd Place to 3rd Place to No Place

Total Football’s total mess is over…but only briefly.

The Dutch blanked Sweden 2-nil in Amsterdam ArenA today in the final game of World Cup qualifying. However, as a consequence of a massive goal differential shortage entering the match, the Oranje finished tied for second in points. But because goal differential is the first tie-breaker, the Dutch technically finished in the non-qualifying position of third place in their group behind Sweden and France. Therefore, the Dutch will miss the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

As a lifelong fan of the Netherlands, it’s tough to see this team not playing in a World Cup. Without diving too deep into the weeds right now (failure of a youthful, next generation of footballers to develop at a world-class level), what’s even more depressing is what was said after the final whistle blew.

Arjen Robben (33), my favorite soccer player, declared he is retiring from international competitions with the Dutch National Team.

This move was predictable, as it was either going to be announced this year or after the World Cup next summer had the Dutch qualified. Still, to know that Robben won’t put on a national team jersey again is jarring. One of the leaders of a golden generation of players for the men in orange (Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie) was excruciatingly close to winning his country’s first-ever World Cup on multiple occasions. The Dutch finished second in 2010 and finished third in 2014.

Now, as this disastrous World Cup cycle has proven, the Dutch will not be serious contenders for a long, long time. There is a very concerning talent gap for such a historically influential and talent-rich soccer nation.

Returning back to Robben’s breaking news, three pieces of immediate solace are:

  • He will continue to play for Bayern Munich.
  • His two goals today (especially his second) were classic Arjen Robben moments.
  • He retired from the Dutch National Team in front of his home fans.

Speaking of his classic second goal today against Sweden…

Ironically enough, the Netherlands won today’s game with the worst lead in soccer. And 2-nil proved, once again, to be the worst lead because they needed a much higher goal differential to miraculously qualify for next summer’s World Cup. It was a loss disguised as a win.

As opposed to Arjen Robben’s legacy with the Netherlands, which was always a win-win situation.

Thank you for all the memories playing for the Oranje!