Metz (France), Marseille (France), Arsenal FC (England)
World Cup winner (France) 2001 Confederations Cup winner (France) 2003 Confederations Cup winner (France) 2000 European Championship winner (France) 2002 Premiership Champions (Arsenal) 2004 Premiership Champions (Arsenal) 2003 FA Cup winner (Arsenal) 1996 League Cup winner (Metz) 1999 UEFA Cup Finals (Marseille) 2001 FA Cup Finals (Arsenal)
Robert Pires (born October 29, 1973 in Reims, France)
is a French international football player, of Portuguese and
Spanish descent. He currently plays for Arsenal as a midfielder.
He normally plays on the left side but can play all across
midfield or even as a support striker. In recent seasons, he has
combined well with left-back Ashley Cole to create attacking
options on the left flank for Arsenal.
Pirès was 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
At Marseille, Pirès had a mixed two-year stay. His first season
saw him missed the French league title by a point, and 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.
He was signed by Arsenal for £6 million in 2000, after stiff
competition from Real Madrid, replacing Marc Overmars who had
left for FC Barcelona. Initially, his form was indifferent, and
some people criticized him after his comments saying that the
English game was too violent. His bumfluff goatee beard also
made him a target for derision. However, he slowly began to
regain the form he had shown at Metz, scoring a superb goal
against Lazio in the 2000-01 Champions League, and the winner
against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-finals; 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. He led the Premiership assist
charts and was voted both FWA Footballer of the Year and
Arsenal's player of the season, as Arsenal won the league title.
This was despite not playing the last two months of the season
after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in a match against
After a lengthy layoff, Pirès returned, for the 2002-03 season,
scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Southampton.
He went on to be a crucial part of Arsenal's quest for the
Premiership title in the 2003-04 season, which they achieved
unbeaten, the first time an English top flight club had done so
in 115 years.
Pirès was part of France's 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning
squads (Pirès laid on the pass for David Trézéguet's winning
goal in the final), but had to miss the 2002 World Cup due to
the 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. Despite this, he has won 52 caps
for his country and scored 10 goals.
In the 2004-05 season critics said his form had been indifferent.
But Pires could still point to the leading goalscorers table,
where he finished the third top scorer in the Premiership with
14 goals, behind teammate Thierry Henry and Crystal Palace's
Andy Johnson. He also picked up a second FA Cup winners' medal
after Arsenal beat Manchester United on penalties.
Pirès' natural flair and exhibitionist streak have occasionally
got him into trouble. In Arsenal's 1-0 win over Manchester City
in October 2005, Arsenal were awarded two penalties, the first
of which Pirès scored. For the second however, instead of
directly shooting, Pirès attempted to roll the ball forward so
that team-mate Thierry Henry could have a shot (emulating a
trick Johann Cruyff once performed). However, Pirès botched it,
and the referee adjudged that Pirès had touched the ball twice
and awarded an indirect free-kick to City.
At the start of the 2005-06 season, Pirès had a contractual
dispute with the club. He was hoping for a new two-year deal to
his present contract which expires in the summer, but was only
offered a 12-month extension, in keeping with the club's policy
regarding players over 30 years old. As yet, the issue is
unresolved, but Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has intimated that
the policy may be broken in order to keep Pirès at the club.