Robin van Persie says he spent his entire 11 years in England being booed and abused.
And the Dutchman has revealed what it was like to play for the two Premier League clubs in England who are admired by their own fans – and reviled by everyone else.
Van Persie said: “In England, I suffered constant abuse, shouting and booing at every away match. I felt that abuse for all of the 11 years I played in England.
“In fact, when I returned to Holland last year, I forgot what it was like to receive applause in other stadiums. Since I came back to my home country, where I had not played for 14 years, I have realised what a wonderful thing it is if you get some respect from fans at other grounds.
“My away matches feel almost comfortable now. That is a beautiful experience, after those years in England.
“When I look back on what is behind me and the things I experienced in England, it was really heavy. I was not aware of that when I was in the middle of it all.
“We were travelling continuously and it was one big race from one match to another. There was never a break and we were always playing at the highest pace. Every year of the 11 years I played in England, was like a riding on a roller-coaster.”
Van Persie, will be 35 when he retires.
Born in Rotterdam, he left hometown club Feyenoord for Arsenal in a £2.75million deal in the summer of 2004, but had only one FA Cup success to show for eight years with them.
He joined United for £22.5m in 2012 and helped the Reds lift the last of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 13 Premier League titles a year later.
Van Persie spent two seasons at Old Trafford before moving to Turkish club Fenerbahce, then finally returning to Feyenoord. He also scored a record 50 goals in 102 games for Holland.
The Dutchman revealed he has been leaning heavily on ex-United team-mate Nemanja Vidic for advice as he plots his life after football.
The pair linked up on a family holiday to Dubai over Christmas, and Van Persie said: “At this moment, I don’t know any better than playing, training, playing. Nemanja had some terrific advice for me.
“He told me that, as a player, you have a team manager who tells you what time you have to turn up, where you have to be and who thinks of all you do in football. But that disappears when you retire. At that moment, you have to become the coach or manager of your own life.
“That was golden advice from Vidic.”
However, defenders may yet be fearing the name Van Persie.
His 12-year-old son Shaqueel made a mark in Manchester City ’s academy when Robin was at Old Trafford.
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Now the boy has followed the old man by joining the same Feyenoord youth set-up that gave Van Persie senior his big chance.
He added: “I see things (in Shaqueel) of the player I have been over the past decade. He is only 12, but his vision on the pitch is really extreme. It is quite something when you are that age and you look to see what is happening around you before you get the ball.
“I asked him which name he will have on the back of his shirt. I said, ‘Will it be Shaq, Shaqueel or Van Persie?’ Do you know what he said? ‘Van Persie, of course! My name is Van Persie, right?’”