Former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has said facing Stoke away from home was the toughest challenge of his career.
The Dutchman spent the majority of his career in the Premier League and believes it is there that football is played at it’s highest level, admitting the physicality has taken its toll on him.
The 34-year-old also highlighted trips to Swansea, Bolton and Sheffield United as particularly tough days out but says it is at the bet365 Stadium, formally known as The Britannia, where he struggled most.
Robin van Persie admits the physicality of the Premier League has taken its toll on him
The Dutchman says facing Stoke away from home was the toughest challenge of his career
VAN PERSIE AT STOKE
‘I have been in pain for years, but pain comes in varying degrees,’ Van Persie explained when asked if he was considering hanging up his boots.
‘Top football is not without sacrifices. Playing for years in the Premier League is taking its toll.
‘That is football in the highest gear, so bad that I experienced the matches in the Champions League as practice matches.
‘If you suddenly got two or three metres to take a ball, you were not hacked. Well, that was impossible against the likes of Swansea, Bolton and Sheffield United. Those kind of teams did not give me a metre.
Van Persie shows his frustration while playing for Arsenal at Stoke back in 2012
Van Persie (left) loses out to Glenn Whelan during a Premier League clash in 2015
‘Or Stoke City, with the wind that raced through the stadium. I always stood there in the basics and it was always a battle.
‘Stoke of them all was the hardest match in the world. Actually, such duels are overpowering on yourself, until you fall from the edge.’
While Van Persie’s teams often fared badly at Stoke in terms of results, he rarely failed to find the net in the fixture.
The forward bagged four goals in six trips up north but only left with the three points on one occasion, a 2-0 win with United in 2013.
The forward still managed to score four goals in six trips to the bet365 Stadium