Arjen Robben: 'This feels like the only trophy that is missing'

The former Chelsea winger has won various league titles and cups in four different countries and is hoping to complete the set with a Champions League victory for Bayern Munich

Dominic Fifield

Chelsea will feel like intruders in Bavaria. They will touch down in Germany this morning to find Munich decked in red and white, plastered with posters declaring "one city, one dream", the clamour that it is Bayern's destiny to claim a fifth European Cup in their own Allianz Arena rammed down the visitors' throats. They are party poopers provoking nothing but suspicion from the locals. Even the sight of a familiar face will hardly feel welcoming. "I still have great feelings for Chelsea and am really happy for them that they're in the final," says Arjen Robben. "But unfortunately, this time, we'll have to disappoint them."

A reunion with an old-friend-turned-foe awaits. Robben enjoyed three years in south-west London, a period spent entirely under José Mourinho's stewardship, and seemed to delight and frustrate the Portuguese in equal measures. There were successive Premier League titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup success, his dazzling wing play in combination with Damien Duff and Joe Cole helping to illuminate a side that, with the benefit of hindsight, now appears refreshingly attack-minded.

Yet the Dutchman is also remembered for the niggles, the strains and the agonised facial expressions as he winced in pain while prone on or hobbling from the turf. His last appearance, as a substitute who had to be replaced, in the 2007 FA Cup final rather encapsulated his stint at the club: a cameo cut short by injury that still yielded a winners' medal.

The 28-year-old reflects on that spell in England, which ended in a messy public courtship with Real Madrid and an eventual £24m move to the Bernabéu in the summer of 2007, with real fondness. "I have no regrets at all," he says. "I had injuries, but I didn't get them on purpose.

"Overall, I had a great time, especially in the first season when I was part of the team who won the league for the first time in 50 years. It was great to be there, and I played my part in the time I was fit, and showed what I could do on the pitch. Of course I wanted to show them more, but because of the injuries I couldn't always do that.

"They've changed the way they play in the time since. But when I was there we were nice to watch, with two wingers and attacking football. Maybe, tactically, they're a bit more defensive these days. They can still play football, but it's not always the most technical football like you see at Arsenal or Manchester United. For a lot of their players, this will be their last chance to win the Champions league. They're all getting a bit older, with all respect.

"People say their team has not evolved, and that may be a failure, but it could also be a strength. A lot of their players have been at the club for a long time, which can make them strong. They have experience and a lot of leaders in their team, even if the biggest leader [John Terry] will be missing in the final.

"We know the threat they pose. They've come close in this competition before, and it's still a big target for Mr Abramovich. They were in the final four years ago against Manchester United and, when I was there, we played two semi-finals against Liverpool. But, in the end, it's about winning the trophy. If you want to enter the history books you have to win it. We're in our second final in three years and, for us, it's our time to win it."

Robben has grown used to securing silverware over a 12-year professional career that has taken in five clubs in four countries. There was a Primera Liga title in his first season at Real, a club he was reluctant to leave before the lavish arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká cast him to the fringes, with the Bundesliga crown claimed in his first season at Munich his fifth league success in eight years. Jupp Heynckes's Bayern purr as an attacking force when Robben and Franck Ribéry – a combination that has locals sporting "Robbery" on the back of their shirts – are gliding down the flanks, supplying the prolific Mario Gomez in the centre.

When the combinations click, they appear irrepressible. When they do not, and Bayern have been frustrated domestically by Borussia Dortmund in the last two seasons, the tension is palpable. There was a high-profile spat with Ribéry over a free-kick in the first leg of the semi-final against Real Madrid, a dispute that spilled over into the dressing room with the Frenchman later accepting a fine for striking his team-mate. The Dutchman, such a placid figure at Chelsea, has endured other fall-outs with the captain, Philipp Lahm, and Thomas Müller.

"Those stories are closed," says Robben. "It's something we don't talk about any more." As if to prove as much, he recently signed a two-year contract extension, the first time he has prolonged a spell at any of his clubs.

That suggests a player content with his lot, though Chelsea stand in the way of the real prize. "There's only one target for us, and that's winning the Champions League," he adds. "It's the biggest trophy in club football and, if you win it, it will stay with you forever. When we heard the final would be played in Munich it became the dream for everyone at the club. It's been a very long road – we had to play qualification matches [against FC Zürich] as we weren't qualified for the group stages – but everyone has been hoping and praying. The final's in our stadium, in our city, and everything will be red and white. That's a great motivation for us.

"This feels like the only trophy that is missing. I've won the league in four countries, and all the cups. The only one missing is the Champions League. We can use what happened to us in the final two years ago [when Mourinho's Internazionale won 2-0] to help us this time. I told my mum then: 'If we win the Champions League and the World Cup, you can have my boots because I'll stop playing.' It didn't work out in 2010, with Bayern or Holland, but we can do it this time."

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