Robert Pirès

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Robert Pirès
Robert Pires 2011.jpg
Pires in 2011
Personal information
Full name Robert Emmanuel Pirès
Date of birth (1973-10-29) 29 October 1973 (age 40)
Place of birth Reims, France
Height 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)
Playing position Winger / Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1989–1992 Reims
1992–1993 Metz
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1993–1998 Metz 162 (43)
1998–2000 Marseille 66 (8)
2000–2006 Arsenal 189 (62)
2006–2010 Villarreal 103 (13)
2010–2011 Aston Villa 9 (0)
Total 529 (126)
National team
1995–1996 France U21 12 (5)
1996–2004 France 79 (14)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 6 January 2011.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 19 December 2005

Robert Emmanuel Pirès (French pronunciation: ​[ʁɔ.bɛʁ pi.ʁɛs] ; born 29 October 1973 in Reims) is a former French international footballer who is best known for his time with Arsenal, with whom he won three FA Cups and two FA Premier League titles including the club's famous unbeaten season of 2003–04. A former France international, Pirès earned 79 caps between 1996 and 2004 for his country, including winning both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000. He has been included in the PFA Team of the Year for the 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, was the Player of the Tournament for the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup, FWA Player of the Year for the 2001-02 season, Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year for the 1995-96 season, and was included in the FIFA 100 by Pelé. He was also voted by Arsenal fans as the club's 6th greatest player in the club's history.

Pirès has played the majority of his career as a left winger, but can also play all across the midfield or in a position to support the striker(s).[1]

Early years[edit]

Pirès was born in Reims to a Portuguese father and Spanish mother. Pirès, the elder of two boys, spent most of his childhood dressed in two football shirts that reflected his divided loyalty. One was a Benfica shirt (his father was a fan) and the other was a Real Madrid shirt. Pirès confessed he had difficulty in school because his French was not good due to the fact his parents only spoke Spanish and Portuguese.[2] His passion for football was inherited from his father, António, who played with Les Corpo, a local team, and every Saturday night Pirès would watch him play. At the age of 15, Pirès left school and began his dream of a career in football with a two-year sports degree course in Reims. At the insistence of his mother, Pirès continued with Reims and eventually was called up four years later.[2]

Career[edit]

France[edit]

Pirès is a graduate of the FC Metz youth academy, making his senior debut in 1993 against Lyon. During his six seasons there, he scored 43 goals in 162 matches, and won the Coupe de la Ligue, prompting a £5 million move to Olympique de Marseille in 1998. At Marseille, Pirès had a mixed two-year stay. His first season saw Marseille miss the French league title by a point and they also lost the 1999 UEFA Cup Final to Parma. His second season saw him suffer a spate of on- and off-field problems, which led him to boycott the club at the season's end.[3]

Arsenal[edit]

Pirès spent six seasons at Arsenal

Pirès was signed by Arsenal for £6 million in 2000, after stiff competition from Real Madrid and Juventus, replacing Marc Overmars, who had left for Barcelona for a record £25 million.[2] Initially, Pirès' form was indifferent, and some people criticised him after his comments that the English game was too physical. However, he slowly began to regain the form he had shown at Metz, scoring a superb solo goal against Lazio in the 2000–01 Champions League,[4] and the winner against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-finals.[5] However, Arsenal went on to lose the Cup final to Liverpool 2–1.

By 2001–02, Pirès had fully got to grips with the English game and had one of his best seasons. Pirès scored superb goals against Middlesbrough and Aston Villa. Against Aston Villa, Pirès chased after a long ball by Freddie Ljungberg, and lobbed the ball over the pursuing George Boateng, and finished off the move with a delightful lob over Peter Schmeichel. He led the Premier League assist charts and was voted both FWA Footballer of the Year and Arsenal's player of the season, as Arsenal won the league title.[6] This was despite not playing the last two months of the season after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in a FA Cup match against Newcastle United. This also ruled him out of playing in the 2002 World Cup with France.

After a lengthy layoff, Pirès made his comeback in November 2002 as a substitute against AJ Auxerre in the UEFA Champions League. Although Pirès initially found it tough, he eventually returned to form, scoring 14 Premiership goals in 20 starts that season, including a hat-trick against Southampton on the penultimate day of the season.[7] Pirès was voted Barclaycard Player of the Month for February 2003. Pirès capped off his season by scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final against Southampton.[8]

He went on to be a crucial part of Arsenal's quest for the Premier League title in the 2003–04 season, which they achieved, remaining unbeaten and becoming the first English top flight club to do so in 115 years. Pirès and his Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry were instrumental in that season, scoring a combined 57 goals in all competitions. Pirès made a sluggish start to the campaign, but a wonder-goal against Liverpool at Anfield kick-started his season. Pirès showed football fans his sublime technique, skills and finishing, most notably with his goals against Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers, and Leeds United. He surprised a lot of people with a world class tackle on Claude Makélélé and, following that, a run into the penalty box which dragged William Gallas and John Terry away, thus making space for Patrick Vieira to have a one-on-one with the Chelsea goalkeeper and subsequently scoring. Arsenal won that match 2–1, with Vieira's goal the equaliser. That day of Premier League action proved decisive, as Manchester United's failure to beat Leeds United during the same day resulted in Arsenal getting a huge lead in the title race. Arsenal never lost 1st place in the table for the rest of the season. More notably, Pirès will always be remembered for a game in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final's 1st leg match against Chelsea, where he managed to beat John Terry to a header, which resulted in the equaliser for Arsenal, after Eiður Guðjohnsen had given Chelsea the lead. However, Arsenal were eliminated after they lost 1–2 in the return leg, courtesy of an 87th minute Wayne Bridge goal. Pirès also showed his playmaking skills in a goal against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, in which Pirès was the architect in building up the goal, and capped off the move with a goal to score Arsenal's 2nd goal of the game. Tottenham refused to give up, and managed to claw their way back and claimed a 2–2 draw. Despite that, Arsenal won the title after the match. Pirès finished that season with an impressive tally of 14 goals and seven assists in the Premier League. He was Arsenal's second top scorer (behind Thierry Henry) and had the joint amount of assists (along with Dennis Bergkamp) that season.

In the 2004–05 season, Pirès finished third in the Premiership goalscorers table with 14 goals, behind teammate Thierry Henry and Crystal Palace's Andrew Johnson. Pirès also picked up a second FA Cup winners' medal after Arsenal beat Manchester United on penalties. Pirès was replaced by Edu in the 2nd half of extra time in that match.

During the 2005–06 season, Pirès started the season poorly, and players such as Freddie Ljungberg, José Antonio Reyes and Alexander Hleb were preferred to him on both wings. As the season progressed, though, Pirès's form improved, outscoring his selection rivals overall mainly because of a bizarre penalty incident with Thierry Henry against Man City when Pires having scored from the spot earlier in the game tried passing it to Arsenal's star striker but Henry missed the ball and it went down as a penalty miss. Pirès was instrumental in Arsenal Quarter Final Champions League first leg against Juventus F.C.. He got the better of Vieira with his tackle which was the buildup to Arsenal's first goal scored by Fàbregas. Arsenal won that leg 2–0. Pirès played his last game for Arsenal in the UEFA Champions league final against Barcelona, in which he was substituted for a replacement goalkeeper after Jens Lehmann was sent off.

On 11 July 2008, Arsenal fans voted Pirès as the club's sixth greatest player of all time.[9]

Departure[edit]

During the 2005–06 season, Pirès wrangled with Arsenal over a new contract, in the hope of a new two-year deal. In keeping with the club's policy regarding players over 30, Pirès was only offered a 12-month extension to his contract, which expired in June 2006.

In May 2006, Pirès agreed to an offer from Villarreal CF[10] after a month of speculation, during which time he and Arsenal defeated Villarreal in the Champions League semi-final.

Arsenal fans and players alike were saddened by Pirès's departure. His ex-Arsenal teammate Cesc Fàbregas told the August 2006 edition of the Sky magazine how sad it was to lose him.[citation needed]

One of the main reasons Pirès gave for leaving Arsenal was that he felt he was no longer a first choice under manager Arsène Wenger. Pirès was quoted saying: "I have to say I have had some disappointments this season. For instance, I was on the bench very often".[11] Pirès additionally suggested that Wenger's decision to withdraw him in the UEFA Champions League Final showed he had slipped in the eyes of his French boss. Pirès said that he felt hurt by how Wenger did not trust him anymore, which was a major factor that convinced him that it was time to move on from Arsenal.[11]

On the official Arsenal matchday program for the game against Wigan Athletic on 11 February 2007, Pirès revealed his heartbreak of being substituted so early on during the Champions League final. Pirès stated: "I was very disappointed. When I saw my number on the fourth official’s board to be substituted, I couldn't believe it. It was my last game after six years at the club, a Champions League Final in front of all my family in Paris where I became World Cup champion and it lasted just 12 minutes. That was very hard to take". Pires was in fact substituted on 18 minutes in a forced move to replace goalkeeper Jens Lehmann who had received a straight red card.

Villarreal[edit]

In May 2006, Pirès agreed to join Spanish side Villarreal. He joined on a free transfer, subject to passing a medical, bringing to an end his six-year career as an Arsenal player. After Villarreal was eliminated in the semi-finals of the 2006 Champions League by Arsenal, Villarrael coach Manuel Pellegrini had wanted to sign Arsenal's Pirès or Thierry Henry.[1]

Pirès was officially unveiled as a Villarreal player on 3 July 2006.[12] He scored his first goal for the club in 3–3 pre-season draw with Newcastle United on 5 August 2006. However, on 18 August 2006, Pirès damaged the cruciate ligament in his left knee in a friendly match against Cádiz and required corrective surgery to alleviate the problem, which kept him out of action for seven months in his new club in Spanish top flight. Pirès finally recovered from knee injury and made his first league appearance for Villarreal as a second-half substitute when he was named in Villarreal's squad to face Real Sociedad on 17 March 2007. Pirès scored his first league goal on his return from injury in a 3–3 draw away to Real Betis on 31 March 2007. After three appearances as a substitute, Pirès made his first start for Villarreal on 22 April 2007 against Barcelona. He opened the scoring for his team to defeat league leaders Barcelona 2–0, avenging his premature departure against Barcelona in the Champions League Final the previous May. On 13 May 2007, in a thumping 4–1 win at Osasuna, the former France international midfielder gave the visitors the perfect start with a seventh-minute opener as Villarreal continued their late-season push for a European spot. The run took "The Yellow Submarine", sinking at 11th spot without him in the side, to the brink of a UEFA Cup place in barely six weeks. Villarreal ended the season in 5th spot wherein Pirès played crucial roles in helping Villarreal with the late charge up winning each of their final eight games and an entry into the UEFA Cup.

The 2007-08 season was marked by the ongoing saga between Juan Román Riquelme and the board of Villarreal. Despite this distraction, Pirès' leadership qualities helped Villarreal to win six of their opening eight games. Against Barcelona at El Madrigal, Pirès technique earned the Yellow Submarine two penalties which were duly converted by captain Marcos Senna. By contrast, Pirès' former national and Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry struggled at Barcelona.[2] Villarreal ending up finished second in La Liga behind Real Madrid, their best league finish in history, beating Barcelona into third place.[3]

In 2009, Pirès faced former club Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, coming on as a 70th minute substitute in the first leg and playing the full 90 minutes at the Emirates Stadium. Villarreal were defeated 4–1 on aggregate, but Pirès received a warm return from the Arsenal supporters, who sang his name throughout both legs.

Pirès was told in May 2010 that his contract would not be extended and he would have to look for a new club during the summer as Villarreal will be "changing their philosophy".[13]

Aston Villa[edit]

Pirès returned to England and trained at London Colney – Arsenal's training ground, in order to keep his fitness levels up.[14] In October 2010, it was reported that Conference National club Crawley Town intended to talk to Pirès about joining them for some part of the season, but the player's spokesman said they were "not aware of any interest" from that club.[15]

On 16 November 2010, Aston Villa boss Gérard Houllier had been in talks with representatives of Pirès.[16] On 18 November, the 37-year-old midfielder completed his move to Aston Villa on a six-month contract.[17] He made his Villa début in the Premier League on 21 November as a second-half substitute, although his new club were beaten 2–0 by Blackburn Rovers. Pirès' arrival at the club was praised by many of Villa's senior players, including Gabriel Agbonlahor, Stewart Downing and Shane Lowry.[18][19][20] Pires scored his first goal for Aston Villa in the 3–1 FA Cup win against Blackburn Rovers on 29 January 2011. His next start was also against Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League on 26 February. His performance in Villa's 4–1 win was described by Sky Sports as "his most influential" since joining the club.[21]

In early March, Pirès announced that he would like to remain at Aston Villa for the 2011–12 season.[22][23] Villa boss Gérard Houllier responded positively to this claim, but admitted that no decision would be made until the Summer of 2011.[24] However, he was released by the club on 27 May 2011 after the 2010–11 season finished.[25]

In September 2011 Pires made a guest appearance for Scottish Premier League side Hibernian in Ian Murray's Testimonial match at Easter Road.[26]

International career[edit]

Pirès was part of France's 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning squads, but had to miss the 2002 World Cup due to an injury he sustained playing for Arsenal. He also played in 1996 Olympic Games and Euro 2004. However, a dispute in late 2004 with French national coach Raymond Domenech put a halt to Pirès' international career. He won 79 caps for his country and scored 14 goals. He won the Golden Ball (for most outstanding football) and Golden Shoe (for most goals scored) awards at the 2001 Confederations Cup in Korea/Japan. Pirès notably provided two golden goal assists during his international career, first setting up Laurent Blanc against Paraguay in the 1998 World Cup round of 16 and providing David Trézéguet with the match-winning ball in the Euro 2000 final. The former was the first Golden Goal ever scored at a FIFA World Cup.

On May 22, 2013, in an interview on Morning Live, Arsenal legend Robert Pires has admitted that he is in advanced talks with a club in South America where he hopes he can finish out his career in an exotic country. There are very few details available at present regarding the club, country or league and he has not decided it he will accept the offer but admitted talks are ongoing, some rumors state that possible country of destination might be Bolivia.[27][28][29]

Personal life[edit]

Pirès playing in a charity match in March 2014

When Pirès made his professional debut for FC Metz in 1992, he met his future wife, Nathalie.[2] The two were married for six years and divorced in 2003. Pirès told The Daily Mirror that his divorce ruined him and that it affected him professionally. He divulged that he was unable to concentrate or sleep. He also started exhibiting odd behavior such as publicly fighting with French coach Raymond Domenech in early 2004.[30]

Shortly after the split from Nathalie, Pirès met French model Jessica Lemarie through mutual friends. On 10 August 2005, she gave birth to the couple's first child, Naia. Pirès claims that "[Naia] has allowed me to find calm and be a lot more at ease".[31] Since then, Lemarie and Pirès have married and had a son named Theo, born 11 July 2007.[32]

On 17 January 2012, Pirès became an ambassador for Grassroot Soccer, an international non-profit that uses the power of football to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV.[4]

Pirès uses Twitter to communicate with fans.[33]

Pirès is good friends with Dennis Bergkamp, with whom he played at Arsenal.

Career statistics[edit]

Club Season League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Metz 1992–93 2 - ? - - - - 2 -
1993–94 24 1 ? 1 - - - 25 1
1994–95 35 9 ? 6 - - - 41 9
1995–96 38 11 ? 7 2 4 - 49 13
1996–97 32 11 ? 3 1 6 - 41 12
1997–98 31 11 7 6 2 3 - 40 13
Total 162 43 ? 23 5 13 - 198 48
Marseille 1998–99 34 6 ? 2 - 11 3 47 9
1999–2000 32 2 ? 3 1 11 2 46 5
Total 66 8 ? 5 1 22 5 93 14
Arsenal 2000–01 33 4 7 6 3 12 1 51 8
2001–02 28 9 15 5 1 12 3 45 13
2002–03 26 14 3 7 2 9 - 42 16
2003–04 36 14 10 5 1 10 4 51 19
2004–05 33 14 4 6 2 8 1 47 17
2005–06 33 7 4 3 2 12 2 48 11
Total 189 62 43 32 11 63 11 284 84
Villarreal 2006–07 11 3 1 - - 2 - 13 3
2007–08 32 3 4 5 1 2 - 39 4
2008–09 32 3 9 - - 8 1 40 4
2009–10 28 4 1 2 1 7 2 37 7
Total 103 13 14 7 2 19 3 129 18
Aston Villa 2010–11 9 - - 3 1 - - 12 1
Total 9 - - 3 1 - - 12 1
Career Total 529 126 58 70 20 117 19 716 165

National team statistics[edit]

[34]

France national team
Year Apps Goals
1996 3 1
1997 4 1
1998 14 1
1999 9 1
2000 10 2
2001 13 4
2002 1 0
2003 12 4
2004 13 0
Total 79 14

International goals[edit]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 9 October 1996 Parc des Princes, Paris, France  Turkey
4 – 0
4 – 0
Friendly match
2. 26 February 1997 Parc des Princes, Paris, France  Netherlands
1 – 1
2 – 1
Friendly match
3. 10 October 1998 Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia  Russia
0 – 2
2 – 3
UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying
4. 13 November 1999 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Croatia
1 – 0
3 – 0
Friendly match
5. 28 May 2000 Maksimir Stadium, Zagreb, Croatia  Croatia
0 – 1
0 – 2
Friendly match
6. 16 August 2000 Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, France FIFA XI
4 – 0
5 – 1
Friendly match
7. 3 June 2001 Munsu Cup Stadium, Ulsan, South Korea  Mexico
3 – 0
4 – 0
2001 FIFA Confederations Cup
8. 7 June 2001 Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon, South Korea  Brazil
1 – 0
2 – 1
2001 FIFA Confederations Cup
9. 15 August 2001 Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes, France  Denmark
1 – 0
1 – 0
Friendly match
10. 6 October 2001 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Algeria
4 – 1
4 – 1
Friendly match
11. 30 April 2003 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Egypt
3 – 0
5 – 0
Friendly match
12. 20 June 2003 Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne, France  Japan
1 – 0
2 – 1
2003 FIFA Confederations Cup
13. 22 June 2003 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  New Zealand
5 – 0
5 – 0
2003 FIFA Confederations Cup
14. 26 June 2003 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Turkey
2 – 0
3 – 2
2003 FIFA Confederations Cup

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Metz
Arsenal

International[edit]

France

Individual[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pires: My Euro battle , The Sun ,Sport,Football". London: The Sun. 22 January 2004. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kimmage, Paul (27 October 2002). "Robert Pires the laughing cavalier". The Times (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "Mrs Pires happy with her rain man". ESPN. 20 November 2001. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  4. ^ "Pires sends Arsenal through". BBC. 17 October 2000. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
  5. ^ "Arsenal sink rivals Spurs". BBC. 8 April 2001. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
  6. ^ "Arsenal Statistics 2001/02". KickOff.co.uk. 
  7. ^ "Arsenal Statistics 2003/03". KickOff.co.uk. 
  8. ^ "Pires fires Arsenal to FA Cup glory". Daily Mail (London). 
  9. ^ 3 mins 25 seconds (11 July 2008). "Gunners' Greatest Players – 6. Robert Pires". Arsenal.com. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  10. ^ Pires agrees deal with Villarreal, BBC Sport, 2006-05-25
  11. ^ a b Stammers, Steve (28 May 2006). "Football: Pires: The moment I knew it was time to end my days with". Sunday Mirror. 
  12. ^ "Pires agrees contract with Villarreal". Daily Mail (London). 25 May 2006. 
  13. ^ "Pires set to leave Villarreal". FourFourTwo. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  14. ^ "Arsenal legend training at London Colney". Arsenal.com. 24 April 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  15. ^ "Robert Pires 'not aware' of Crawley Town interest". BBC Sport. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2010. 
  16. ^ "McAllister welcomes imminent arrival of experienced midfield ace Pires". Aston Villa Football Club. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  17. ^ "Robert Pires completes move to Aston Villa". BBC Sport. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2010. 
  18. ^ "Lowry: Lining up alongside class act Pires was surreal , Latest News , Aston Villa". Avfc.co.uk. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  19. ^ "Agbonlahor thrilled to line-up with Pires in claret and blue , Latest News , Aston Villa". Avfc.co.uk. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  20. ^ "Downing joins Pires praise , Sky Sports , Aston Villa News , Football , Premier League". Sky Sports. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  21. ^ "Villa sink wretched Rovers". Sky Sports. 26 February 2011. 
  22. ^ "Pires wants Villa stay". Sky Sports. 1 March 2011. 
  23. ^ http://www.avfc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10265~2304867,00.html
  24. ^ "Houllier plans Pires talks". Sky Sports. 1 March 2011. 
  25. ^ "Farewell to Reo-Coker and Carew as released list announced". Aston Villa F.C. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  26. ^ "Ian Murray Testimonial 2011–12". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  27. ^ http://www.arsenalnews.co.uk/robert-pires-in-advanced-talks-with-new-club/
  28. ^ http://gossip.ladyarse.com/arsenal/2013/05/22/robert-pires-in-advanced-talks-with-new-club/
  29. ^ http://www.abola.pt/nnh/ver.aspx?id=403659
  30. ^ "MY DIVORCE RUINED ME SAYS PIRES". Mirror Online. 22 October 2005. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  31. ^ Evans, Dan (30 May 2004). "Pires Falls.. For Jess". Sunday Mirror. 
  32. ^ "Robert Pires; Free Kick Master". Freekickmastersusa.com. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  33. ^ http://twitter.com/piresrobert7
  34. ^ "Robert Pirès". National Football Teams. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  35. ^ "France honors World Cup winners – Government gives Legion of Honor to players, coaches". CNN/SI. 1 September 1998. Retrieved 20 July 2006. 
  36. ^ "Décret du 24 juillet 1998 portant nomination à titre exceptionnel". JORF 1998 (170): 11376. 25 July 1998. PREX9801916D. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 

External links[edit]