It was the best start to the World Cup that Manchester United fans could hope for. Holland, lead by incoming United manager Louis van Gaal, battered world champions Spain 5-1 in the opening game of the tournament. Robin van Persie scored the best goal of the year in doing so. After he scored, he sprinted to the touchline and high-fived Van Gaal.

Today, Van Persie has revealed why that goal was so important to him and the manager.

I boarded the plane to Rio de Janeiro and I was worried. I had been sidelined for almost eight weeks at the end of the season. The boss wanted me to prove my fitness in our last warm-up match against Wales. In more than three months, I had never played more than 70 minutes. My left groin went stiff. I was in agony. I really wanted to play 90 minutes for the boss, but I couldn’t carry on. It was one week before we had to play the world champions. Nobody expected us to do well anyway. Me, the boss, the doctor decided to keep it quiet. Nobody in the world was allowed to know. There was too much at stake. In the build-up, I was still training with so much pain. But, somehow, there was an improvement after our long flight to Rio. There was so much tension in the squad. Their nerves had taken over. On the day of our first match against Spain, the team was about to collapse because of mental pressure. After I scored, the stadium exploded, the bench exploded, but so did my head. I did something which I had never done before. I kept looking at the ball while I was flying, until I landed with a massive bang with my face forward on the ground. The real reason was that my wife and kids were sitting right behind the bench. But before I got there, Van Gaal came running out. It was marvellous, I did want to celebrate with everyone and with him too. That goal was not just a dream come true, it also changed the entire World Cup for us and the way the boss made his entrance at Man United.