Robert Pires has explained why he joined Arsenal instead of Real Madrid in the summer of 2000.
Pires had just won Euro 2000 with France and was on the books of Marseille at the time. The Frenchman’s performances for OM and for Les Blues had impressed Spanish giants Real Madrid, who were interested in signing him.
Negotiations had begun between Pires and Madrid, but eventually Pires moved to Arsenal for a transfer fee of £5.3 million.
At the time, Pires said, according to BBC Sport: ‘I would have preferred to have played for Real Madrid, but the words of Wenger gave me more security.
‘I have been talking to Wenger since last December. With respect to Real Madrid, I had only talked to their technical director Jose Martinez Pirri. I never got to talk with their coach Vicente Del Bosque’.
Pires has now elaborated on his decision to switch to Arsenal from Marseille in 2000 and wrote in the Arsenal Magazine: ‘I will never forget the first time I spoke to him, over the phone.
‘It was in 2000. I was about to sign for Real Madrid but he convinced me to instead come to Arsenal. He was so right and signing for Arsenal is the best thing I did in my career’.
Pires was on the books of Arsenal until 2006, winning the Premier League twice and the FA Cup on three occasions. The former France international winger is regarded as one of the greatest players to have ever played for the Gunners and in the Premier League.
How different it would have been had Wenger not made a move for Pires all those years ago...