Netherlands captain Robin van Persie has dismissed any immediate fitness concerns ahead of the World Cup but admitted he has not played pain-free for the past six years.
The Manchester United striker was taken off at half-time during the side’s final warm-up game against Wales last Wednesday and there were initial fears he could be a doubt for their opening Group B match against Spain on June 13.
‘I’ve been playing with pain for the last six years every single game,’ van Persie said. ‘I can’t really think of one game that I started without a niggle or pain somewhere so I’m used to that.’
The 30-year-old however is confident he can handle the busy schedule of matches in Brazil: ‘I think I know together with the team’s medical staff how to deal with that and I’m the one that basically looks at that and manages that,’ he said.
‘Fitness-wise, I’ve been making steps in the last couple of weeks – sometimes big steps, sometimes smaller steps – but I’m feeling alright. I had a little issue with my groin in the last couple of days but I can’t even call that an injury.’
Van Persie is coming off a frustrating season with Manchester United, in which he was restricted to just 21 Premier League appearances due to injury, as the club finished in a hugely disappointing seventh place.
It was a year in stark contrast to van Persie’s 2012-13 campaign, when he finished as the league’s top scorer with 26 goals, leading United to their 20th title in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge.
Part of the Dutch squad which fell to Spain in the 2010 final, Netherlands fans will certainly be hoping their star man can remain fit over the next few weeks, given how influential he has proved when on the pitch.
The same could also be said for fans at Old Trafford who, after the disappointment of 2013-14, will be hoping to hit the ground running next season with a fit van Persie joining up with current national team manager Louis van Gaal in Manchester.