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In April 2003, Robben made his Netherlands international debut in a friendly match against Portugal at age 19. Robben’s first participation at an international tournament came at UEFA Euro 2004 when manager Dick Advocaat called up younger players, such as Wesley Sneijder and John Heitinga. During the group stage of the tournament, Advocaat substituted Robben in the 66th minute to defend a 2–1 lead over the Czech Republic. The Czechs, however, then scored two goals and won 3–2, which led to criticism about Advocaat’s decision. In the quarter-finals, Robben scored the deciding kick in the penalty shootout between the Netherlands and Sweden, which ensured that at the fifth attempt, the Dutch finally won a shootout.
Match Worn Boots
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Robben was later named man of the match on 23 December 2006 against Wigan Athletic, a match where he got two assists and the winning goal. Robben was inflicted with yet another injury in a match against Liverpool on 20 January 2007. Robben made his return in a 3–0 victory against Middlesbrough in February, driving in a shot that took a deflection past Mark Schwarzer for an own goal by Abel Xavier. He came on as a substitute for Claude Makélélé in the 2007 League Cup final against Arsenal and set up the winning goal for Didier Drogba. Robben scored a goal in the second round of the Champions League against Porto, which led to Chelsea winning the tie 3–2 on aggregate. At the end of March 2007, Robben underwent a knee operation after sustaining a knee injury upon returning from international duty that was expected to rule him out for at least four weeks. He only made two further appearances for Chelsea, both of which were as a substitute and both of which would prove to be key games for the club. His first appearance since returning from injury was against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final second leg which went to penalties. Robben went on to have his penalty saved by Pepe Reina, and Chelsea ultimately lost. Robben’s final appearance for the club came against Manchester United in the 2007 FA Cup Final. Robben replaced Joe Cole at half-time, but was then substituted himself for Ashley Cole in extra time as Chelsea emerged victorious. Spanish club Real Madrid were interested in two of Chelsea’s players. Then manager Bernd Schuster is said to have demanded Michael Ballack, while Real Madrid’s then president Ramón Calderón was known to favour Robben. Robben said to reporters of Spanish newspaper AS, “I do not know when a deal will be reached. I would like to send a message to the Madrid fans, but I can’t until my future is sorted.” Real Madrid eventually secured Robben’s services in August 2007. He told Chelsea’s official club website: “It was difficult to leave because I had a great time in my three years at Chelsea and I made a lot of friends. There was no time to say goodbye because the deal was closed on the Wednesday at 10 o’clock in the evening and the following morning I had to fly. If I have one day off I would want to come back and say goodbye because to the fans I owe a big thank you because they were always good to me. In my three years I won all the prizes there are to win in England”.