Four years after the World Cup final defeat to Spain, Netherlands winger Arjen Robben travels to Brazil at the height of his powers, having dealt with some of the demons that plagued him early in his career.
Previously synonymous with injuries that ranged from hamstring strain to a testicular cancer scare, selfishness and wasteful finishing, the 30-year-old has developed from being a raw, precocious talent into one of the key players in a dominant Bayern Munich side.
"The season was a good one," said Robben after helping Bayern wrap up the Bundesliga title in record time."I stayed fit all year, and when I'm fit, I give it my all."
Robben's move to Bayern in 2009 has helped dispel much of the criticism that dogged his early career in England and Spain.
Despite winning league titles with both Chelsea and Real Madrid, Robben never really lived up to his billing as one of the most exciting attacking players in the world.
But, the move to Bayern and the appointment of former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola in 2013 have seen him improve immensely, and with a fit Robben pulling the strings, Bayern's dominance over the last year has not been limited to the domestic scene.
Robben, who has played 73 times for his country and scored 22 goals, has, however, had a chequered World Cup experience. He netted on his World Cup finals debut in Germany in 2006 against Serbia and Montenegro, but the Dutch crashed out to Portugal in the last 16, losing 1-0 in an ill-tempered match.
And, in what seems like a microcosm of his career, he arrived at the 2010 finals in South Africa injured. He played only 17 minutes in the group stage before producing some brilliant performances in the knock-out rounds.
His powerful, direct running and dribbling were among the few positive points in a dour Dutch side that paid little homage to the free-flowing "Total Football" embraced by previous Netherlands teams.
van Gaal expressed satisfaction with the fitness of his squad as it continues with its World Cup preparations, and said he had already decided on the bulk of his selection for Brazil.
"We’ve created a top sporting environment because we know our players have to be in the best possible condition," he said, after the conclusion of a week-long training camp where the team did intensive physical and tactical work.
"The players showed that they are top sportsmen and gave everything. Every player tried to give off his best. I’ve seen the first signs of a good team spirit developing. I can see it in the way my players communicate with each other," he said.
That is just as well for the Dutch have a long history of falling out with each other and shooting themselves in the foot at major tournaments. "Everyone feels we are coming closer as a group.I can see it in the reactions of my players. We are on the same wavelength. This has been good to experience and it could lead to something positive (in Brazil)," he added, picking his words for maximum effect knowing what has happened in the past.