10 Minutes With: Robert Pires, Talking London, Skinheads And Jack Wilshere

He's still as French as ever, even without the hair

Most Popular

Robert Pires, by his own admission, had a hard time settling into English football.

It's easy to see why. Not since David Ginola had someone so flagrantly French kicked a ball on British soil. With his luscious mane, pencil-drawn goatee and Gallic good looks, Pires became a magnet for crunching tackles from knucklehead cloggers across the land.

But he persevered, and now the 42 year-old can truly be counted as one of the best and most battle-worn players to ever grace the Premier League. We sat down down with the Frenchman's Frenchman to find out what it was like in those first few grueling months:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

First thing's first, Bobby: where's the hair gone?

New life, new look. Sometimes you need to change something. All my life I played football with the long hair, but now football is finished. It's a fresh chapter of my life.

So it's been 16 years since you first arrived on these shores. What were your first impressions?

I was struck by the connection I immediately had with the fans. It's not only when you play at home - it's away too. The people love football so much. I grew up in France, I learned football in France, but I found passion in England.

Most Popular

The transfer window has been busier than usual. What's your advice to foreign players entering the Premier League?

Be careful. The football is not the same. It's difficult and tough. Not just in the games, but in the sessions every morning. Lee Dixon and Martin Keown were the toughest guys in training.

But if you have the opportunity to play in England, you should, because for me it's the best league in the world. All of the stadiums are very special.

What's the biggest culture shock, outside of football?

The food is not the same. In France, the gastronomy is one of the best in the world. But when you move to England, everybody tells you to be careful about fish & chips. And avoid fried English breakfasts. I now know why.

So what did you do for food?

Well London isn't only fish & chips. L'Etoile, in Soho, is the best French restaurant in London. I recommend everything, if you like very good food. I also love Hampstead village. It's beautiful, especially for drinking.

And truthfully? I never watched British television. I bought myself a satellite for French, Spanish and Portuguese TV, instead.

Who helped you to settle in?

I remember when I joined Arsenal in 2000, I spoke a lot with Tony Adams. It was important to talk with an English guy, who knew the Premier League perfectly. When you arrive in a new country, you need to talk to English players.

Why don't English players move abroad? Are they too scared?

Unfortunately, Jack Wilshere's left Arsenal for Bournemouth. Why didn't he go to Roma? Maybe because the Premier League is the best in the world. He needs to prove himself, and needs to play regularly. It's much better if he plays here.

Robert Pires took part in The EE Wembley Cup final at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.  View the latest episode here.