Robert Pires has officially called time on his playing career at the age of 42.
The midfielder, the last of France’s victorious 1998 World Cup squad to retire, hadn’t played competitive football since featuring for FC Goa in late 2014.
Speaking to beIN Sports the spectacularly handsome Frenchman confirmed that his adventure in the Indian Premier League was his last as a player.
“I’m 42 so at a certain point you have to stop, you have to say stop and then above all leave your place to young players,” he revealed. “My last experience was in India.”
He may have arrived from Marseille as a World Cup and EURO 2000 winner, but it’s fair to say that Pires enjoyed the best years of his career at Highbury. And what glorious years they were.
In 2001/02, he was voted the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year as he helped the Gunners to the League and FA Cup ‘Double’. Having missed the final two months of the season with cruciate knee ligament damage – an injury that also ruled him out of the World Cup in Japan and South Korea – his teammates famously honoured his contribution by collectively bowing at his magical feet.
Pires bounced back the following season to score the winning goal in the 2002/03 FA Cup final against Southampton and kick-started the 49-game unbeaten run in the Premier League with a hat-trick against the same opposition.
A firm fan favourite from the day he signed, the midfielder consolidated his status as an Arsenal legend by scoring 19 goals in all competitions as Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ secured a memorable title triumph in 2003/04.
He added a further FA Cup medal to his collection in 2004/05 before departing for Villarreal in the summer of 2006 after struggling to come to terms with his premature substitution in the Champions League final against Barcelona.
The Légion d’honneur spent three seasons at the El Madrigal under Manuel Pellegrini and finally got the Arsenal farewell he deserved when he played the full 90 minutes against the Gunners in a Champions League quarter-final in 2009.
Reflecting on the occasion he told Le Sport 10, “My comeback at Arsenal? I still have shivers thinking about it.
“I know English fans have good memories. But it was beyond everything. They gave an me ovation before, during and after the match.
“All match long, while Arsenal played at home, I heard the stadium chanting my name. I almost had tears in my eyes. I will never forget.”
Why was he so popular? Well, his record against Sp*rs speaks volumes. In 12 games against our neighbours, Pires scored eight goals and was never on the losing side.
Bobby returned to train with Arsenal in 2010 and subsequently signed a short-term deal with Aston Villa. It looked as though he’d retired in 2011 before FC Goa offered him the chance to strut his stuff as their marquee signing.
If you weren’t aware, Mr. Pires is something of an Arseblog favourite. We can’t really find the words to do justice to how fabulous he was on his day…so we’ll just let his feet do the talking. Here’s all 84 of his goals for the Gunners.
Cheers for the memories Bobby. We never did find out the French for ‘Va Va Voom’…