Arjen Robben: denied a World Cup-winning goal. Photo: Getty Images
Netherlands forward Arjen Robben has put to bed the trauma of the missed chance he had to win the 2010 World Cup as his team prepare to face world champions Spain again in their Group B opener on Friday.
But the prospect of going head-to-head again with Iker Casillas, the Spanish goalkeeper whose outstretched leg denied the Dutchman a possible World Cup-winning goal in South Africa, means he must relive a moment of notoriety.
"I'm surprised it took five questions before it came up," Robben joked with reporters on Thursday after the Dutch completed their preparations at the Fonte Nova arena in Salvador.
Nemesis: Spain keeper Iker Casillas. Photo: Getty Images
"Of course it will stay with me for the rest of my life, you can't deny that. But we are now looking ahead. That all doesn't count any more.
"It's in the past, it's one of those things that happens in sport," he added on the eve of an immediate rematch in Brazil for two of the tournament heavyweights.
He had obviously been expecting to be questioned about the moment when a through ball from midfield sent the lightning-quick Robben dashing between two defenders and into the Spanish penalty area.
With just the on-rushing goalkeeper to beat, Robben shot and Casillas got a just enough of his foot in the way to deflect the ball wide.
The television image of an disbelieving Robben, with his hands on his bald head realising a chance of making history had just slipped away, remains one of the lingering images of the 2010 World Cup.
A smiling Robben giggled through a mostly jocular news conference with his usually belligerent coach Louis van Gaal, who looked genuinely enthused by being at the World Cup as he refrained from his customary sparring with Dutch reporters.
"It's the highest possible podium for either a player or a coach and something I always wanted to participate in," Van Gaal said.
"I wasn't feeling the nerves a week ago but now I'm really tense. I'll be even more nervous in the morning before the match.
"I've never said that we can win and remember we are playing against the number one team in the world. But we will do everything we can to be the champion of this tournament," he added.