Arsenal legend Robert Pires tells of Wenger fallout and ‘horrible week’ leading up to his exit

“I didn’t even watch Arsene”: Arsenal legend Robert Pires recounts the “horrible week” that started with Wenger replacing Wenger in the Champions League final and ended with the decision of the french star leaving

  • Robert Pires is considered one of the greatest players in modern Arsenal history
  • In the 2006 Champions League final he was controversially substituted
  • Arsène Wenger had to trade a player after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off
  • Worse couldn’t forgive Wenger and a few days later he told her he would leave

Robert Pires gave a fascinating glimpse into his doomed final days at Arsenal, when a turbulent period after what should have been the peak of his career saw the way out.

Pires was a regular at the conquering Arsenal squad under Arsene Wenger in the early 2000s, and was understandably given a starting position in the 2006 Champions League final against formidable Barcelona. .

As many football fans know, the game became infamous for the controversial 18th-minute dismissal of goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, which drastically changed the color of the game and forced Wenger to make an early substitution.

Robert Pires was so disgusted to be taken out in the final that he decided to leave Arsenal

Here, however, is the moment when Pires’ time as a gunner changed forever.

Speaking in a recent interview, Pires revealed that he never for a moment believed that he would be the player to take out in the final, and how Wenger’s choice to do so immediately ended his love affair with the club.

Talk to The team, in quotes from the Mirror, French icon Pires said: “At no point did I think I would be the one to come out.

– I haven’t even looked at Arsene. For me it was going to take off [Alexander] Hleb or my friend [Cesc] Fabregas, because I was able to help in attack and I have this very good technical relationship with Henry. It is not arrogance.

Pires was part of Arsenal's side with dreams of winning the Champions League in Paris

Pires was part of Arsenal’s side with dreams of winning the Champions League in Paris

“So I am there, calm, super confident and Titi (Henry) tells me that it is me who is going out.

‘”What?” and I see the number 7 on the board. It’s horrible. Awful!’

Pires still remembers the moment vividly and can retrace his steps past Wenger on the sideline to the dugout inside the Paris stadium, in which he put on his warm-up sweater and was broadcast around the world. entire on the television cameras stood next to the substitutes, looking despondent and distraught.

“I walk past the manager, we don’t look at each other. I’m going to sit down, very bored, ”added Pires.

‘I wait for it to calm down, then I’m like’ what I want is for us to win ‘. Two days later, when I told him I was leaving … basically that triggered my exit.

Pires moved to Villarreal and then scored against Barcelona in a 2-0 win

Pires moved to Villarreal and then scored against Barcelona in a 2-0 win

‘He [Wenger] did not expect it. I also needed to move on.

“After the final, there was like a rupture… It was a horrible week. I learn that I am not in the squad for the World Cup, I play 17 minutes in the final and we lose it… I have known better! ‘.’

Pires would move to Villarreal as a free agent the same summer after choosing not to sign a new deal with Arsenal, and instead testing his skills in Spanish football.

A pre-season goal against Newcastle gave the forward a good start but a cruel knee ligament injury ruled him out for more than seven months.

Pires' relationship with Wenger would ease and he returned to observe training in 2016.

Pires’ relationship with Wenger would ease and he returned to observe training in 2016.

When Pires finally returned for Villarreal, he went on to score the first goal in a league game against Barcelona that his new club would win 2-0, thus earning a bit of retaliation for the painful European final defeat.

However, the relationship between Pires and Wenger eventually thawed, with the Frenchman returning to his former club many years later in 2015 after his retirement, to attend training and learn from his former mentor.

Pires has since taken on coaching roles, but has not made the leap in directing full-time football.

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