Former Arsenal player Pires still haunted by 2006 Champions League loss

​Photo: 90Min

French midfielder Robert Pires has had a storied career with Arsenal and the French national team. The former French national player is in town for the Battle of the Masters football tournament at the National Stadium on Saturday (11 Nov). He shared some thoughts with Yahoo News Singapore about some of the highlights and lowlights of his career, and how he feels about Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

What was the most memorable moment in your career?
It was a long career because I played 19 seasons in France, UK, Spain, India… The best moments? I don’t know. I’m a lucky man. We won some titles with Arsenal, with the national team. Maybe it was in 1998 when with France we won the World Cup in Paris.

What do you think of France’s chances at next year’s World Cup?
I’m very confident. I believe in our national team, I believe in the manager and I believe in the players. We have a very good team, good talent and of course it will be very difficult because you have teams like Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina. But we can do it.

What were some of the worst moments in your career?
I think it was when we lost the final of the Champions League with Arsenal in 2006. It was in Paris. We lost against Barcelona. It was the worst for me and for the players and for the fans because the final of the Champions League is very important, and the most important is to win and lift the trophy, but we didn’t.

Which is a better squad – Arsenal or the French national team?
It’s difficult to compare. It’s not the same style of football, not the same players, not the same manager. When you play you need to adapt to the system. You can play 4-4-2, three at the back. There are different tactics. The most important is to find the feeling with the players so for me the adaptation is very important. It’s good because you need to change your mind when you play for Arsenal or for France.

What are your thoughts about manager Arsene Wenger?
The fans are divided about Arsene Wenger. I understand and also I don’t understand. The fans want to see one thing – Arsenal to lift the Premier League trophy. The last trophy was in 2004. So fans are upset about Wenger… Wenger built something with the club. The (current) situation is very shameful for Arsene Wenger.

Has Wenger’s style changed over the years?
No he didn’t change. For me, he keeps the same way – always the same philosophy but changed a little bit of the tactics. During my time, he always played 4-4-2 – Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League.

But now, for example last season he played 4-5-1. And now he plays with only three at the back. So he can make evolution. He hasn’t changed his philosophy.

Tickets for Battle of the Masters presented by Masters Football Asia are available from www.mastersfootball.com and Sports Hub Tix at www.sportshub.com.sg/sportshubtix/.