Robin van Persie has apologized to Arsenal fans who were hurt by his departure to Premier League rivals, Manchester United, in 2012.
The former Netherlands international joined the London club as a 20-year-old in 2004, and spent eight years there before leaving for Old Trafford to the disappointment of many Gunners supporters.
He won the league title in his first season at United, as well as the Golden Boot in the process. But he insisted at the time that he had no regret over his decision.
However, speaking to the BBC following his retirement from football, he said he never intended to anger the Emirates supporters.
“I get that the fans were angry with me. I was the captain, top scorer and we came third that year. But just sometimes you feel you need a challenge, a new adventure, “ he said.
“If I hurt people, I’m sorry. But that’s me. I made that decision and I stand by it. But that doesn’t mean that I look in a negative way towards Arsenal.
“I cannot say one bad word about Arsenal Football Club – it is a beautiful football club, I had a fantastic time there. I arrived as a little boy, I left as an adult, as a mature player.
“I don’t have a bad feeling towards anyone at Arsenal, I’m thankful towards them, for the chance they’ve given me, for the mistakes I made over the years – because I took a few silly red cards but Arsene still put me on – and just the whole family feeling of the club.
“During that whole process of leaving, Arsene Wenger and I never had an argument or a big fight, we just sometimes on certain levels had different ideas.
“At the crucial moments, you have to make tough decisions, and it was a very tough decision. But you have to stand behind them and this is what I did.
“I know if you make decisions like that, you’re not going to please everyone. I learned quite a while ago that I will just be myself, I will make decisions about my life and I will accept them.”
Van Persie, who called time on his career at boyhood club, Feyenoord, this season, left Arsenal with one FA Cup and Community Shield to his name.
He noted that arriving at the club to play alongside members of Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ team, had a huge impact on his development.
“If I look back on my period at Arsenal, it makes me really proud,” he added.
“Because I came as a little boy, playing together with Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure… it was a dream, I was like a kid in a sweet shop.
“So that was really, really special and I learned so much just by looking at these guys, seeing how they behave, how they live, how they play and train. That was crucial for me.”