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Former Arsenal and France midfielder Robert Pires announces retirement at 42

Pires is the last player from the 1998 World Cup winning squad to hang up his boots

Robert Pires retirement
Robert Pires has been a free agent for a year after his stint with FC Goa

Former Arsenal and France midfielder Rober Pires officially announced his retirement from football after not signing with any club for over a year. The 42-year-old has been a free agent for almost a year after he was released by Indian Super League side FC Goa. The Frenchman was the ISL team’s marquee player in its first season.

Pires shot to fame in the Premier League when he joined the Gunners in 2000 in spite of interest from Real Madrid and Juventus. The former Marseille man was signed to replace Marc Overmars who had made the switch to Barcelona.

He spent six seasons at the north London club making 284 appearances and scoring 84 goals. He was a key member of Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles side who went the entire 2003/04 season unbeaten – a run they extended to 40 games. 

“I am 42 years old and now must be the time to say stop,” Pires told L'Equipe. “My last experience was in India.

“Above all, it is necessary to give way to the young players.”

Pires won the Premier League twice with Arsenal and also won the FA Cup three times. He was also part of the team that reached the Champions League final in 2006 but was sacrificed in the final – his last game for the club – after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had received a red card in the 18th minute. 

He would then move to Villarreal where he spent four years before finally playing for Aston Villa on a six-month contract. It would be three years before he was signed by FC Goa. Although he had not been playing for any club, he was still training with the Arsenal squad at London Colney to maintain his fitness levels before his one-season stint in the Indian Super League. 

Robert Pires Euro 2000
Robert Pires won Euro 2000 with France

On the international stage, Pires was part of the France squad that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 Euro championship. His retirement now makes him the last player of the 1998 squad to hang up his boots.

He played 79 times for Les Bleus and scored 14 goals. Pires helped France beat Italy 2-1 in the final when he assisted David Trezeguet for the winner in extra time. He is also in the list of 100 greatest living footballers selected by Brazilian legend Pele. 

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