Pires opens up about the end of his Arsenal career after being subbed off in the 2006 Champions League final

Robert Pires has opened up on the breakdown of his relationship with Arsene Wenger, which prompted him to leave Arsenal.

He was one of the Gunners’ best players and had helped them to reach the final of the Champions League in 2006.

They were looking to win the competition, but they suffered an early setback when Jens Lehmann was sent off in the final against Barcelona.

One outfield player naturally had to give way for a new goalie to enter the match and Pires never thought it would be him.

He was wrong as Wenger hauled him off and he never got over that decision.

In a recent interview, the Frenchman reveals that he was stunned to be subbed off and was so disappointed that he didn’t even look at Wenger’s face.

A few days after the match, which Arsenal lost, he told the gaffer he was leaving and he explains that the substitution was a part of the reason he left the club.

Speaking to L’Equipe, as quoted by the Mirror, French icon Pires said: ‘At no point did I think I’d be the one coming off.

‘I didn’t even look at Arsene. For me, he was going to take off [Alexander] Hleb or my friend [Cesc] Fabregas, because I could help in attack and I have that very good technical relationship with Henry. It’s not arrogance.

‘So I’m there, calm, super confident and Titi (Henry) tells me I’m the one coming off. 

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

‘I pass in front of the manager, we don’t look at each other. I go sit down, very annoyed,’ Pires added.

‘I wait for it to calm down, and then I tell myself “what I want is for us to win”. Two days after when I told him I was leaving… basically, it triggered my exit.

‘He [Wenger] wasn’t expecting it. I also needed to move on to something else.

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

Tags Robert Pires


  1. That was a tough call for Wenger to have to make. Pires was vital to our side, but with the players we had on the pitch it was a choice between him, Lljunberg and Hleb. Hleb retained and recycled better than Pires, that’s my thought but AW had a call to make and cannot be faulted for his decision.
    We were close to winning that game with 10 men which says it all. If TH14 had buried THAT chance at 1-0 we would have won without Pires.

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