He’s been assigned the No 11 in our Dream Team – the traditional shirt for a left winger – but, like Liam Brady and David Rocastle before, Robert Pires made the No 7 shirt famous at Highbury.
The Frenchman only truly ‘arrived’ on the tragic day ‘Rocky’ died, scoring the opener in the North London derby win over Spurs on March 31, 2001. He never looked back from that bittersweet occasion.
"Robert had six tremendous years with us and made a huge contribution to the team's success during his time here. He is not only a great footballer but a good man. It's difficult to pick out one or two highlights but he was superb in our Double-winning season during the 2001/02 campaign and contributed hugely to our unbeaten season with 19 goals."
Like his Dream Team-mate on the other flank, Freddie Ljungberg, Pires could time his runs into the penalty area to perfection.
But unlike Ljungberg, he arrived at Arsenal with some pedigree - he had been part of the all-conquering French team of 1998 and 2000. And it wasn’t long before he became a fearsome proposition for club defences across Europe.
Pires was a revelation, another shrewd bit of transfer dealing from Arsène Wenger, boasting a playmaker’s vision and a striker’s instinct in equal measure.
To further endear himself to the fans he scored eight times in 12 games against Tottenham and was never on the losing side in a local derby. In fact there was only one game at White Hart Lane in which Pires played that he didn’t score, and that was his first derby in 2000.
Our Dream Team is packed full of players who have brought success to the Club and Pires’ footprints are all over the ‘Invincibles’ campaign of 2003/04. With Pires and Thierry Henry in tandem, Arsenal were unplayable at times.
It would be no surprise to see them reunited at the sharp end of our all-time XI.
NO 11 ROBERT PIRES
Selected in 71 per cent of teams
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