London, Nov.8 (ANI): Robin van Persie is a compelling lesson in life, a powerful reminder of just how much the Arsenal star has achieved - and also of how close he came to throwing it all away.
"My life could easily have been completely different. I came from a very rough neighbourhood in Rotterdam where there were so many cultures all mixed together. I was one of the only white Dutch guys there - my friends were from Africa, Surinam, Morocco, Turkey, and, of course, there were distractions," The News of The World quoted van Persie, as saying.
It included shoplifting, and efforts to make him smoke, drink and other stuff.
"When I got to 14, I found myself at a crossroads in my life. I could have easily gone astray. I saw people doing stupid things - my teammates, my colleagues, my friends. For instance, my friends tried to make me have a drink, have a cigarette and stuff - well, you know, it was Holland. But I was always more interested in football, that was what I wanted to do more than anything. So, I never did those things," van Persie said.
Van Persie further said: "I never went to that dark side. It would have been easy to have done it - half the team was doing it, most of my friends were doing it.
But I did not. I just felt it was not right to smoke, to drink, when you are just 14. Everyone told me to try it but I always said 'no'. And the other day I looked at a picture of my under-14s football team and I looked at the ones who were doing those things and also at the ones who weren't. And do you know what? The ones who did it - none of them made it!"
Van Persie, 26, pauses for a moment, clearly still amazed at the significance of the photograph.
He's not gloating, he's not moralising, he's not drawing any deep and meaningful conclusions - he just makes the observation.
One shameful incident from his youth haunts the father-of-two.
An experience that he acknowledges was a turning point in his life - the day he and two friends attacked a small classmate and beat him up. (ANI)