World Soccer: What’s the mood in the Dutch camp ahead of the Euros?

Robin Van Persie: We are all very focused and aiming to win the competition, and in order to do that we are all together. There is lots of laughter and fun, but there is also concentration when needed. We are all like a big family and overall there is a good atmosphere.

You’ve been drawn in the toughest group, with old rivals Germany, Portugal and Denmark. How does that feel?

I don’t think you can find an easy team to play against in the European Championship. All of them have qualified, so that means they are good. Each and every one has strengths and weaknesses – including Germany, Portugal and Denmark. Anybody is beatable. I just hope it won’t be us!

How do Holland play compared with Arsenal? Do you have to adapt your style of play with Holland?

Playing with your national team always differs from representing your club. At Arsenal I train with the boys every day, but with Holland it is once in a while for a short period. You cannot compare the two. Nearer to a tournament, though, we have more time to train, play together and adjust to each other, so it’s something we are used to.

As in the World Cup in South Africa, Holland are staying in a city-centre hotel. Is it good to be among the fans during the tournament?

Most of the time when we are in the hotel we hardly see what is going on outside it. That said, in South Africa we stayed in a very nice place where the staff would dance and sing for us after every game, and because of this we got to see a bit of the culture. In Poland and Ukraine it might be a different story because we’re going to be closer to home, so maybe we will be able to
see more of the fans this time around.

Are you hoping to meet Spain at some stage in the tournament so you can make amends for the World Cup Final defeat?

Sport is about winning and losing – they won the World Cup and there are no hard feelings there. To be honest, they were the better side that day. But it is always nice to play a good side so, yes, it would be nice to face them again.

Are there any youngsters in the Dutch team to look out for?

We have a lot of talented young players and it’s a pleasure to see them all developing very quickly. Gini Wijnaldum and Jeremain Lens
of PSV are good examples to watch, along with Luuk De Jong at Twente. There are other upcoming talents too, so the future looks bright.

What are your memories of the Dutch team that won the Euros
in 1988?

I was only five years old back then so I don’t remember too much about it at the time, but I have seen the footage many times since. That team has always been, and still is, one that I look up to. It was full of amazing players and achieved great things for our country. I hope we can do the same – and hopefully my son, who is now five himself, will be able to remember it.

If Holland don’t win Euro 2012, who will?

Obviously I hope we are going to win it, but if for any reason we can’t there are many teams in the running. There are a lot of favourites at the moment and we are one of them. But, as I said earlier, you cannot underestimate anybody.

Interview by Nick Ames