At 41 years old, most footballers have hung up their boots and are happy to turn to either head into coaching or media work to keep involved with the game. Some players remove themselves completely.
Arsenal legend Robert Pires has followed neither of those paths…
It was announced yesterday by the Indian Super League twitter account that three years after playing his last official match, Pires will participate in the next Indian championship.
Pires had been scheduled to play in 2012 before the tournament was finally cancelled. The league will start in October and play up until December. It is not known who Pires will compete for but the player is excited at the prospect.
“I am sure the Indian Super League will be a huge success and I am delighted to be part of it.”
The World Cup winner is the biggest name to join the league so far. Fellow Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg has also signed up, but it is unlikely that they will play on the same team.
After playing over 180 games for Arsenal and 100 for Villarreal, the midfielder’s career ended on somewhat of a whimper when he signed a six-month deal with Aston Villa, under French boss Gerard Houllier. He played nine league games and scored in the 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup.
Three years after being released, Pires is set to make his competitive comeback in India. It is hard to judge at what sort of level the new ISL will be, but legends like Pires will not be going there for a holiday.
The former Metz midfielder won two league titles with Arsenal, three FA Cups and finished as a runner-up in the 2006 Champions League. He never won a domestic league title in France or Spain, so he will want to add another trophy to his wonderful CV.
With the type of player Pires is, age shouldn’t affect his ability. He is still full of guile, skill and imagination. The Indian Super League will be hoping he still has the desire to thrill the crowds like he did at Arsenal as part of the famous invincibles.