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Robert Pires
Robert Pires1.JPG
Personal information
Full name Robert Emmanuel Pirès
Date of birth 29 October 1973 (1973-10-29) (age 36)
Place of birth Reims, France
Height 1.87 m (6 ft 1.6 in)
Playing position Winger / Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current club Villarreal
Number 7
Youth career
1989–1992 Reims
1992–1993 Metz
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1998 Metz 162 (43)
1998–2000 Marseille 66 (8)
2000–2006 Arsenal 189 (62)
2006– Villarreal 95 (12)
National team
1996–2004 France 79 (14)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 08:08, 02 November 2009 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

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

Robert Emmanuel Pirès (born 29 October 1973 in Reims) is a French footballer who currently plays as a winger for Villarreal CF of the Spanish La Liga. He normally plays on the left wing but can play all across the midfield or in a position to support the striker(s). He is of Portuguese and Spanish descent.


Early years

Robert Pirès was born at Rheims to a Portuguese father and Spanish mother. Robert, the eldest of two boys, spent most of his childhood dressed in two football shirts that reflected his divided loyalty. One was an S.L. Benfica jersey (his father was a great Benfica fan) and the other was a Spanish national team jersey. Robert confessed he had difficulty in school because his French was not good due to the fact his parents only spoke Spanish and Portuguese.[1]

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.[1]




Pirès is a graduate of the FC Metz youth academy, making his senior debut in 1993 against Olympique Lyonnais. 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.[2]


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 FC Barcelona for a record £25 million.[3] 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 S.S. 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 some 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 chip over Peter Schmeichel. 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 FA Cup match against Newcastle United.

After a lengthy layoff, Pirès made his comeback in November 2002 as a substitute against AJ Auxerre in the UEFA Champions League. Initially, Pirès found it tough, but he finally found his form, scoring 14 Premiership goals in 20 starts that season, including a hat-trick against Southampton in the penultimate day of the season. 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.[6]

He went on to be a crucial part of Arsenal's quest for the Premiership 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. Unfortunately for Arsenal and Pirès, they were eliminated after they lost 1–2 in the return leg, courtesy of a 87th minute Wayne Bridge goal. Pirès also showed his playmaking skills in the wonderfully crafted 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 sublime finish 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 74 goals and seven assists in the English 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 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. 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. Pirès played his last game for Arsenal in the UEFA Champions league final against FC Barcelona, in which he was substituted after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann's sending off during the match. Pirès ended the season as Arsenal's joint second top scorer along with Robin van Persie.

In May 2006, Pirès agreed to an offer from Villarreal CF[7] after a month of speculation, during which time he played against Villareal in the Champions League semi-final. 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".[8] 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.[8]

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]

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 game against FC Barcelona. 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".

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


In May 2006, Pirès agreed to join Spanish side Villarreal CF. He joined on a free transfer, subject to passing a medical, bringing to an end his six-year career as an Arsenal player. Pirès was officially unveiled as a Villarreal player on 3 July 2006.[10] 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 CF 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 Villareal'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 Villareal on 22 April 2007 against FC 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 CA 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 "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 Villareal with the late charge up winning each of their final eight games and an entry into the UEFA Cup.

With the ongoing saga between Juan Román Riquelme and the board of Villareal, Pirès' leadership qualities the following season helped Villareal 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.

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. Villareal were defeated 4-1 on aggregate, but Pirès received a warm return from the Arsenal supporters, who sang his name throughout both legs.

International career

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 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.

Personal life

When Pirès made his professional debut for FC Metz in 1992, he met his future wife, Nathalie.[1] 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.[11]

Shortly after the spilt from Nathalie, Pirès met French model Jessica Lemarie through mutual friends. On 10 August 2005, the couple gave birth to their first child, Naia. Pirès claims that "[Naia] has allowed me to find calm and be a lot more at ease".[12] Since then, Lemarie and Pirès have married and had a son named Theo, born 11 July 2007.[13]

Career statistics





Individual honours

Club career

(correct as of 26 February 2010)

Club Season League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Metz 1992–93 2 - - - - - - 2 -
1993–94 24 1 - - - - - 24 1
1994–95 35 9 ? - - - - 35 9
1995–96 38 11 ? - - - - 38 11
1996–97 32 11 ? - - 6 - 38 11
1997–98 31 11 ? - - 3 - 34 11
All 162 43 ? - - 9 - 171 43
Marseille 1998–99 34 6 ? 2 0 11 3 47 9
1999–00 32 2 ? 3 1 11 2 46 5
All 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 0 42 16
2003–04 36 14 10 4 1 10 4 50 19
2004–05 33 14 4 6 2 8 1 47 17
2005–06 33 7 4 3 2 12 2 48 11
All 189 62 43 31 11 63 11 283 84
Villarreal 2006–07 11 3 1 0 0 2 0 13 3
2007–08 33 3 4 0 0 2 0 35 3
2008–09 32 3 9 0 0 8 1 40 4
2009–10 19 3 1 2 1 6 2 27 6
All 95 12 15 2 1 18 3 115 16
Career Total 512 125 58 38 13 112 19 662 157

International goals

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


External links

Preceded by
Brazil Ronaldinho
FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball
Succeeded by
France Thierry Henry

Simple English

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