Former-Manchester United striker Robin van Persie says his Turkish Fenerbahce teammates have been joking about how they will beat the Netherlands to third place in Group A of the European Championship qualifiers.
Netherlands are currently fourth in Group A with Turkey two points ahead in third. Whoever finishes in third will be part of the playoffs for a place in the 2016 European Championships in France.
Turkey play group leaders Iceland in their final game of the qualifiers and will take third spot if van Persie’s Holland fail to win.
Van Persie is hoping to play despite having had the captain’s armband taken away by new manager Danny Blind, United player Daley’s father.
“People wanted to make a documentary about me and do lots of media stuff around this game. I told them to forget it. This is not the moment to boast about great stats or personal honours. The only thing that counts now is fighting for our lives in this group. We must battle till the last minutes of this campaign and try to qualify.”
Van Persie, who played for United for three seasons and scored 58 goals, says his new teammates at Fenerbahce have been mocking him ahead of the final game in the qualifiers, with the Turkish national side confident of beating Holland to third spot in Group A.
He added: “We have to win our last game and hope that the Turks make a mistake. It’s sad that we’ve landed in a situation like this. The Turks are very confident they will qualify. In the dressing-room at Fenerbahce they’ve been making jokes.
“But in reality it’s a serious business. We both want to get to the Euros in France. As long as we have a chance, I will keep on fighting on the pitch for my country – that is when I play. The new Holland coach Danny Blind has taken the captaincy armband off me and I have to wait every game [to see if] I play.”
The Dutch striker was vital in Holland’s successful third-place World Cup finish last year in Brazil but has somewhat fallen out of importance in the Dutch side.
No longer captain as he was under United manager Louis van Gaal in the World Cup, he is not starting every game for both country and club. Recently, manager Danny Blind confirmed there was a training ground bust-up between Van Persie and Manchester United winger Memphis Depay.
The question must be asked whether Van Persie would even be a part of the Netherlands squad if they do make the Euros next summer.