French Sports TV Analyst, Chevalier (Knight) of Legion d’honneur (France’s highest decoration), FIFA World Cup winner with France, FIFA 100 selected by Brazil immortal and arguably the greatest player of all-time Pelé, current Arsenal trainer/global team ambassador, Arsenal invincible, European Champion and 2-time English Premier League Champion with Arsenal are just a very few of the many unforgettably rich accolades Robert Pirés has highly achieved throughout his legendary professional career; Pirés played for FC Metz, Olympique de Marseille, Arsenal and Villareal in a highly successful career which saw the very talented Frenchman win the English Premier League twice, the F.A Cup three times, as well as being a runner-up in the UEFA Champions League.
Pirés also triumphantly won the FIFA World Cup with France under Aimé Jacquet, coupled alongside the European Championship and the FIFA Confederation Cup twice with France under Roger Lemerre; Pirés played alongside Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Vieira, Youri Djorkaeff, Laurent Blanc, Marcel Desailly, Didier Deschamps, Emmanuel Petit, Frank Lebouef, Bixente Lizarazu, Willy Sagnol, Fabien Barthez, Lilian Thuram and Christian Karembeau throughout Les Bleaus’ golden generation to seal triumphantly defining victories which inspired a nation.
During six highly successful years with English Premier League giants Arsenal playing under Arséne Wenger, the decorated Frenchman won three FA Cups and two English Premier League titles, scoring 84 goals in 284 appearances for the north London club.
Furthermore, Robert Pirés officially scored eight times in 12 games against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur and was never on the losing side in the north London derby throughout his memorable six years with the Gunners; Pirés also played for successful La Liga Primera side Villareal and popular Ligue 1 side Olympique de Marseille throughout his illustrious career.
Moreover, Robert Pirés won the esteemed and much coveted FWA Footballer of the Year once in France, as well as being named in the English Premier League Team of the Season three times (2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04). Pirés won the Golden Shoe and Golden Boot at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2001; Pirés was also named in the Equipe type spéciale 20 ans des trophées UNFP, an honorific selection in France honoring Les Bleaus greatest-ever players.
A legendary member of Arsenal’s 2003-2004 Invincibles, Robert Pirés played alongside Arsenal’s all-time leading goalscorer Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Freddie Ljungberg, Patrick Vieira, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Kolo Touré, Jens Lehmann, Lauren, José Antonio Reyes, Gilberto Silva, Ray Parlour, Sylvain Wiltord, Martin Keown, Edu, Gael Clichy and Kanu to name a few Arsenal luminaries and immortals which witnessed Arsenal become the first-ever top tier English team of the 21st century to remain undefeated throughout an entire league season; Preston North End achieved the legendary feat of being undefeated in the top flight in the 20th century in the 1888-1889 season (Preston North End won the league and F.A Cup double in 1889).
Robert Pirés is still a regular visitor at Emirates Stadium in Holloway, north London and remains a hugely popular and widely respected figure at Arsenal, whereas Pirés’ son Theo Pirés currently plays for Arsenal Under 10s.
FOX Sports 96.9 FM/1340 AM’s Dean Perretta caught up with current Arsenal Global Ambassador/Trainer, French TV Analyst and FIFA World Cup winner Robert Pirés to discuss France’s prospects at the forthcoming FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 this summer as well as discussing Arsenal’s current 2017-18 campaign.
Perretta: First and foremost Robert, France richly anticipates FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 this summer. What are your thoughts on the current France national team and do you believe Didier Deschamps Les Bleus can emerge as FIFA World Cup winners once again in Russia?
Pirés: I think this French team has a good chance to do very well. They are a young and dynamic team but still with some experienced players. (Didier) Deschamps will have them well prepared and will ensure there is a strong unit in the camp.
Perretta: When you proudly lifted the FIFA World Cup on home soil at FIFA World Cup France 98 after France defeated Brazil inside the beautiful Stade de France in Saint Denis, how much did the FIFA World Cup France 98 triumph change both your life and career thereafter claiming France’s first-ever FIFA World Cup in history?
Pirés: It was a defining moment for all of France. To win in your own country, with all your family, friends and the country behind you was amazing.
The love from the French people was so strong and was a significant time for all the country. For me personally, it ensured my career path continued to grow quickly and helped my profile globally increase.
Perretta: What did it mean for you personally when 3-time FIFA World Cup winner, Brazil national treasure and the greatest player of all-time Pelé officially named you in the prestigious FIFA 100 greatest living players in history?
Pirés: Pelé is an iconic figure in our game and to be recognized was a wonderful personal moment. I have achieved many things in football personally and with my teams and country and this is alongside those honors.
Perretta: Alexandre Lacazette, Laurent Koscielny and Jeff Reine-Adélaide are among the current contigent of very talented French players at Arsenal. With that being said, how would you describe Arsenal’s popularity and fanbase in France?
Pirés: Arsenal has always had a strong tradition of great French players and these guys can continue the story. It’s difficult to compare to when I was playing and we had players like (Patrick) Vieira and (Thierry) Henry for example, but Arsenal has always had a French heritage.
Arsenal is very popular in France with the history of great players, the manager (Arséne Wenger) obviously and its easy to come to London from France!
Perretta: Last but certainly not least Robert, French compatriot Arséne Wenger has been an excellent servant and symbol to Arsenal like yourself and also a true credit to the game. What have you learned most from Arséne Wenger both as a trainer and as a person?
Pirés: Arséne (Wenger) has been a great part of my career and we are still very close now. He is a gentleman and also a wonderful coach.
Even now, I train with the first team (Arsenal) sometimes and help the coaching staff and you can still see he is very passionate about the game and still has the hunger and desire to win.