Pele or Greg Louganis?
Dutch superstar Arjen Robben displays characteristics of both men when he's on the soccer pitch.
While not at the same talent level as Pele ó has anyone ever been, really? ó Robben has shown flashes of brilliance during his illustrious career that would even make the all-time Brazilian great proud.
That was never more evident than during the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final between Robbenís Bayern Munich side and host Manchester United back in March.
With Man U holding a 4-3 aggregate lead in front of the raucous home throng at Old Trafford, Robben scored one of the all-time great goals in Champions League history, spectacularly volleying a corner kick into the far side of the net from outside the box.
With Old Trafford suddenly engulfed in stunned silence, Robbenís magnificent marker knotted the tie at 4-4. More importantly, it allowed Bayern to advance because of more away goals.
Thatís Arjen Robben: The Good.
On the other hand, Robben carries the reputation of being one of the biggest divers in the game, sometimes producing the type of flops that even former Olympic diving champion Louganis would be envious of.
Such theatrics from Robben were on display during the Champions League final last month in Madrid, a 2-0 loss to Inter Milan. On a number of occasions Robben could be seen writhing on the turf in alleged pain, only to bounce right back up when the game officials refused to call a foul against his alleged perpetrator.
Thatís Arjen Robben: The Bad.
Given those facts, which Arjen Robben can you expect to see in South Africa 2010?
Probably a bit of both.
To be fair, Robben wonít be the only competitor who will be using the avenue of embellishment in an attempt to draw fouls against the opposition. Certainly diving will be a sport within a sport once the tournament begins.
But if the talent-rich Netherlands expects to take the final step in their aspirations for a title, they will need the slick forward to remain on his feet, not on the grass.
A nagging hip injury caused Robben to work out on his own rather than join his orange-clad teammates at Hollandís pre-World Cup training camp late last month. But team officials insisted there was nothing to worry about, claiming Robben will be ready to go once South Africa 2010 gets underway.
After scoring 23 goals for Bayern this season, the Dutch are counting on Robben to produce more heroics and less theatrics. Whether he can pull that off remains to be seen.
- - -
THE ROBBEN FILE
Name: Arjen Robben, 27
Club Team: Bayern Munich
International Resume: 46 caps, 11 goals
Did you know?: The extremely skilled flanker has the nickname "Flanken Gott," ó "flank God" ó for his dribbling skills and penchant of weaving through defenders.