Arsenal legend Robert Pires retires

Former France, FC Metz, Marseille, Arsenal, Villarreal, Aston Villa & FC Goa midfielder retires at 42

Arsenal legend Robert Pires retires
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Former World Cup and Premier League winner Robert Pires has announced his retirement from football at the age of 42.

Pires last played in India for FC Goa in the Indian Super League but is best remembered for his time in North London where he was part of two league titles for Arsenal.

The Frenchman told beIn Sports: “I’m 42 years old so some time must stop. We must say stop and above all must give way to young.”

A youth graduate at FC Metz, Pires scored 43 goals for 162 games at his first club before moving to Marseille in 1998 following his World Cup success with France.

His time at Marseille did not go to plan and he fell out with management in his second season and ended up boycotting the club before leaving for England in the summer 2000.

Time with Arsenal

He moved to Arsenal for £6 million as a replacement for the outgoing Marc Overmars who had been sold to FC Barcelona for £25 million.

Criticised for being too lightweight for the English game, Pires’ first season was poor despite a few good moments including scoring against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final.

His second season however, was outstanding and he led the assist charts despite a season ending injury in March (which also ruled him out of the 2002 World Cup) he was named Football Writers’ Player of the Year and he was heralded by his team-mates when he lifted the Premier League trophy at the end of the season.

Pires returned in November but couldn’t prevent Arsenal from losing out on the league title to Manchester United, he did however; score the only goal in the 2003 FA Cup final against Southampton to win his second of three FA Cups.

His partnership with Thierry Henry was instrumental in Arsenal’s Invincibles season, the duo scoring 57 goals between them, a curling winning goal against Liverpool at Anfield would be one of the goals of the season.

Pires ended the 2004 season as second top scorer behind Henry and he’d finish third behind Henry and Crystal Palace’s Andy Johnson the following season.

His Arsenal career ended on a sour note however as he was substituted after 18 minutes of the 2006 UEFA Champions League final for Manuel Almunia when goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off.

Later career

Pires joined Villarreal on free transfer in summer 2006 where he helped them to fifth and second place finishes in his first two seasons.

He returned to Arsenal to a warm reception in the 2009 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals but his new team ultimately lost 4-1 on aggregate.

After leaving Spain in 2010 he had brief spells with Aston Villa and FC Goa.

Pires was part of both squads as France completed a World Cup and European Championships double in 1998 and 2000 and also won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001 and 2003.