Under Arsene Wenger, Robert Pires blossomed into one of the best players in the Premier League, in one of its greatest ever teams.
Pires’ split from Arsenal in 2006 is almost as popular as his time in north London.
It was the 2006 Champions League final. Arsenal met a Ronaldinho-led Barcelona side, which also featured Samuel Eto’o.
After a controversial red card to Gunners’ goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was given, Pires was forced to leave the field to make way to Manuel Almunia by Wenger.
Pires was forced to leave north London after that substitution.
“At no point did I think I’d be the one coming off,” Pires told L’Equipe.
“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?” “What?” I ask. Then, I see the number 7. It’s horrible. It’s awful!”
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Sol Campbell scored Arsenal ahead just before the half-time whistle.
However, the Gunners were quickly beaten by the number advantage and Barcelona won the second half with a 2-1 win.
Pires continued: “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!”
Pires moved onto Villarreal on a free transfer over the summer, after he opted not a sign a new deal in north London.
The pair decided to let the past be forgotten and Pires returned to Arsenal in 2015, after he had retired, to begin his coaching career with Wenger.