To Arsenal fans, he’s a legend: the man who won three FA Cups and two FA Premier League titles, and was voted one of the club’s greatest players in History. To his fellow Frenchmen, he’s a hero, having won both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000, two of the greatest moments in Gallic football history. And to anyone who gets to meet him, he’s one of the nicest men in sport: friendly, humble and approachable -not to mention easy on the eye- which has earned him legions of fans, both male and female. And while he officially retired from competitive football two years ago, the Reims-born, London-based champion is still busy. The father of three (Naïa, Theo and Alessio, respectively 7,5 and 2) has not only become an ambassador for Arsenal, he is also a prolific charity worker: as ambassador of Grassroots Soccer, an association who helps fighting HIV in South Africa, and as patron of Le Rêve de Clara, his wife Jessica’s charity that helps deprived children from the Indian Ocean countries. Here, Robert Pirès, who’ll turn 40 in one month, reveals to Chic-Londres some of his personality traits.
Your main character trait Optimism
The trait you most deplore in yourself People say I tend to be too nice…
The trait you are most proud of in yourself Generosity
If you could change something in the way you look I’d like my hair to stop falling! I still have quite a lot of them, but with my 40th birthday fast approaching, I’ve started to notice a difference.
The quality you most appreciate in a man Honesty
And in a woman Strength of character
What you value most in your friends Straightforwardness
The character flaw that you’re most likely to forgive Selfishness, because at the end, people always tend to put themselves first: it’s only human.
Your favourite hobby Playing with my kids. My two boys quite enjoy playing football, which is lucky! And while Naïa’s not as keen as her brothers, she doesn’t mind playing goal…
Your idea of happiness Being surrounded by my family
Your best memory Winning the World Cup in 1998 as well as my wedding to Jessica on 7 June this year.
The worst that could happen to you, apart from losing a loved one I have no idea: I don’t think about those things.
Your dream as a child Being a professional footballer, as far as my first essay at school about what I’d like to do as a grown up.
If you were an animal I’d love to be a thoroughbred, because they are so beautiful and elegant, or a dolphin: not so much because I love water -I’m not that good a swimmer- but because they are smart and fluid and fast, and wonderful animals.
What you love most in the world My family, as well as the gift to play football: I’m a catholic and for me, this ability is a God sent. We are all equals, but I was lucky enough to be chosen to do something I love.
People you admire most in life Those who fight for the right things as well as doctors whose mission is to save lives: that’s admirable.
Your favourite place Home, which is my flat in Hampstead… and more generally London.
What you hate most Jealousy and nastiness. Supposedly, people can change for the best, but it seems like some really don’t want to.
Your biggest success so far Having won the World Cup in Paris in 1998: representing my country, in Paris, and winning was just magical and such an emotional experience… I’ll never forget the parade we had in the Champs-Elysees: there were so many people, everywhere, that we had to stop midway: it was just impossible to go through the masses of onlookers who had come to cheer us up. That’s an experience I really wish upon the young generations, not only for their own sake but for the sake of the country as a whole: for a while, it really brought us all together.
Your definition of love Respect towards the other
Your definition of beauty Feminine
How would you like to die As old as possible and without suffering
How would you want to be remembered For what I achieved in my career.
Your current state of mind Positive and sane
Your motto Just make the most of every moment: sometimes, people just don’t know how to enjoy and appreciate what they have.