Bayern star Arjen Robben subject of turnip truck campaign by Groningen fans
Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben has become the subject of an unusual campaign by fans in the Groningen province of his native Netherlands as they seek to land his signature.
Robben, 34, is set to leave German champions Bayern on a free transfer next summer but has yet to announce his future plans. Eredivisie clubs PSV Eindhoven and Groningen have told ESPN FC that they would welcome back their former player for the final few years of his career, but fans of Groningen have gone one step further.
The "Arjen - Volge Je Hart" (Arjen - follow your heart) campaign started by the Groningen supporters' club now includes a turnip truck which carries the player's name on its trips from the municipal's fields into the city centre and has seen a huge level of support.
"Maybe the whole north of the Netherlands is dreaming of a return," Jacco Fluks, who came up with the idea of dedicating a truck to Robben, told ESPN FC.
The fan-driven campaign also has the backing of the entire municipal.
"Where we can help, we will help," the city's mayor office told ESPN FC amid the wave of enthusiasm over a possible Robben return. "But, of course, the decision is entirely up to Robben."
Local agriculture service HS Agri BV have dedicated one of their trucks carrying turnips from the local fields to their plant in the city of Groningen for the campaign.
At the weekend, Robben's father, Hans, met with company owner Bas Schrage, who is also the founder of the Boeren Box (the Farmer's Box) -- an agricultural themed sky-box at Groningen's stadium.
"Mr. Robben wanted to meet the man who dedicated one of his company's trucks to his son. He highly appreciated our actions for the supporters' campaign," Fluk said. "But he couldn't say anything about the effect it had on his son or his decision.
"I believe we can say that whole province of Groningen, maybe the whole north of the Netherlands is wishing for a Robben return."
At the age of 16, Robben made his debut for his hometown club and went on to make a total of 46 first team appearances before setting out on an impressive career which saw him play for PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea, Real Madrid and, finally, Bayern Munich.
In 2013, Robben's late goal sealed Bayern Munich's 2-1 win in the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund. But Groningen supporters don't expect him to replicate this at Groningen's Groene Hel, the club's 22,329 capacity stadium, they only hope to see one of his trademark goals again.
"We don't expect that you will bring us the championship, and we don't expect any miracles," an open letter to Robben by the campaign reads. "All we hope for is that one moment when you receive a pass in front of the Piet Fransen stands, and you pick up pace and cut in from the outside to curl the ball past the keeper. We'll embrace you like no-one else on this planet can embrace you."