'Football is for everybody'- Pires on multiracial France side

In India to promote La Liga Football Schools, Robert Pires says, “I don’t care if you are white, black or Moroccan. They are playing for France, defending the French flag.”

Pires had turned out for FC Goa in the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League and has fond memories of India.   -  FILE PHOTO/R. RAGU

 

For a much-decorated international, Robert Pires comes across a humble personality. The warm handshake makes it comfortable for an interaction with the French star who won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000. In India to promote La Liga Football Schools, Pires was quick to declare his love for this part of the world.

“I have enjoyed playing in India,” he told Sportstar. “I discovered a new country, new people, new philosophy about life, new food. I am really happy to be back because I have good relations with Indian people.”

He had turned out for Goa in the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League and has fond memories. “I watch lot of games, in France, UK, Spain, even in India. I love football. It is important for me to be involved with my passion. I think India can do well. You can start with young players (8 to 9 years) and have a good academy where you can work much better. An Indian assistant to a foreign manager would be a good idea. You have to take care of the players’ need. Have a good contract and offer good security.”

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In Pires’ opinion, speed is the distinguishing factor in modern football. “The game has become very fast. They like to play it fast. I don’t know the reason for it. The young players are very fast. Look at Kylian Mbappe. Speed is the critical factor from my time and the current players. Quality and ability is there but speed is clearly the difference. Also, the defence today is more organised.”

Pires, who was an attacking midfielder, reckoned every player had a role. “I think all the players on the pitch are important. They all have the ambition to excel but the goalkeeper and the strikers are the key to success. A good goalkeeper can save and a good striker can score.”

The 44-year-old Pires termed the multiracial character of the French team as the main strength. “Football is for everybody. In France we have this culture where all can mix, religion and colour. They may come from Africa but they are French when playing with the team. They are playing for France, defending the French flag. I don’t care if you are white, black or Moroccan. It’s good for France. It was in 1998. And it was good 20 years later.”

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On Arsene Wenger relinquishing his role at Arsenal, Pires said, “Wenger era is over. Wenger took the decision to leave Arsenal and we should respect the decision. It’s a new life for him. Arsenal would do well to finish in the top four (in Premier League). It is one of the best clubs in Europe.”

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