Last night, I was extremely fortunate to be invited to the Football Writers’ Assosciation gala dinner, where Robin Van Persie received his Footballer of the Year award.
The entire evening was celebratory as Fabrice Muamba, accompanied by his fiancee Shauna Magunda, sat among us and received a standing ovation. Robin Van Persie also congratulated his former teammate for his miraculous recovery, expressing his personal wish to see Muamba return to playing football again.
The best Premier League goals of the past 20 years were also honoured; Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick was voted as the ‘Goal of the 20 Seasons’, with Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry completing the top three.
During a Q & A session with Sky Sports presenter Ed Chamberlain, Van Persie also revealed the true reason for his tremendous form for Arsenal this season, a ‘lucky pen’. The Arsenal striker explained that in 2004 when signing the contract for Arsenal, David Dein, the club’s former vice-chariman, provided him with a pen that would bring the new signing luck.
Why? According to Dein it was the same pen that Dennis Berkamp, Thierry Henry and Patrick Viera had used to sign for Arsenal. A humble Van Persie held up his award and said that Dein was right, the pen was lucky.
The PFA and FWA Footballer of the Year also explained that he would ‘always be a Gunner’, in a statement that was received well by the Arsenal fans in the room. Yet, Van persie confirmed that he is still scheduled to meet with ‘the boss’ in the summer.
The Dutch international spoke with integrity before leaving the hall at the Lancaster London Hotel, as he still has preparations for Arsenal’s next match against Norwich on Saturday. The centre-forward did remain outside for some time after to sign autographs and take pictures, which was a classy touch from the Arsenal’s current number 10.
A montage of Van Persie’s goals this season, including his stunning volley against Everton in December, showed that his award was well-deserved. It was a night to recognise what has been a stellar season for the Arsenal Captain.
Thank you to Dave from the Lily Foundation and Jonathan Pearce for providing the tickets for the evening. I would encourage you all to take the time to read Lily’s story and that of her inspirational parents Dave and Liz on their website.