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Man Utd fans loved when Arsenal gave Robin van Persie a guard of honour, but he really hated it

Jack Kenmare

| Last updated 

Man Utd fans loved when Arsenal gave Robin van Persie a guard of honour, but he really hated it

It remains one of the Premier League's most iconic, and painfully awkward, moments. On this day in 2013, Arsenal had to give Robin van Persie a guard of honour after he won the Premier League title with Manchester United

That's right. It is 10 years since the former Gunners striker played his first game back at the Emirates after a controversial £22.5 million move to rivals United – and it turns out he hated every single minute of the build-up.

The Dutch forward, who spent eight years with the North London club between 2004 and 2012 before joining the ranks at Old Trafford, opened up on that guard of honour experience during an appearance on the UTD Podcast.

“I didn’t like it," he said. "Some of them were my friends, I spent eight years there and I was just happy that it was over."



Van Persie, who scored a penalty that day, added: “I could see in their faces that they didn’t like it, which I get. And then you see me walking there, I was just happy that it was over.

“I think it’s a nice gesture to do towards the champions, but it just didn’t feel right, not for me and not for Arsenal. It was a little bit awkward there, so I didn’t feel really comfortable about that.

“From my point of view, it didn’t need to happen. Okay, it’s part of the rules and, from the basics, I did like it but not that particular day.”


Sir Alex Ferguson, on the other hand, praised the gesture and thanked Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for allowing the guard of honour to go ahead as planned.

“I am glad Arsene has done that. That is what great clubs should do,” he said.

“I don’t bother about it [the booing], and I don’t think Robin should bother about it either. That is the modern generation I am afraid.

“For Arsenal to have one of their players go to their biggest rivals of the last 20 years doesn’t sit well with their fans, nor Arsene for that matter. But it does happen. You just have to move on.”


Speaking to the Telegraph in 2020, former Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna, who applauded Van Persie as he walked out the Emirates tunnel that day, gave his take on the gesture.

“I was happy for him. He did a lot for our team. He was a top player and a top striker and he deserved it,” he said.

“Life is full of choices and he made the choice to leave and to play for United. I totally respected that and was happy for him.


“I was surprised because when you have top players you want to keep them at the club. I was surprised and sad but at the end of the day he was happy and I think we all felt it on the pitch.

“He played like he was in his early 20s and was outstanding. He ended up champion that year and I was fully pleased for him."

In terms of that memorable season, Van Persie played a crucial role in United's title-winning exploits. In fact, he beat the likes of Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale to be named the Premier League's top goalscorer [26].


Thoughts on the famous guard of honour moment?

Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@footballdaily

Topics: Manchester United, Robin Van Persie, Arsenal, Premier League

Jack Kenmare
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