My dad is an Arsenal Invincible and Premier League legend… now I’m making my own way after captaining Gunners academy

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ROBERT PIRES experienced the full highs and lows of life in football – from World Cup glory and a Highbury Invincible to an ACL injury and Champions League heartbreak. 

Now his son is following in his footsteps as he makes his way in the beautiful game.

GettyRobert Pires was part of the unbeaten Arsenal Invincibles in 2003-04[/caption]

His son Theo is trying to follow in his footsteps into football

Pires Sr, 50, secured legendary status at Arsenal during his six years with the club. 

That included playing a key role in the Gunners’ famous Invincibles season of 2003-04 – and scoring eight goals against bitter-rivals Tottenham.

Pires came through at Reims before turning professional with Metz where he won the Coupe de la Ligue and earned his transfer to Marseille.

But after boycotting the end of the 1999-00 season, he joined the French revolution at Highbury under Arsene Wenger as Marc Overmars’ replacement.

He lit up the Premier League in 2001-02 but suffered an agonising ACL injury in the March which cut his season short and saw him miss both the FA Cup final and the World Cup. 

Pires – who won the World Cup in 1998 and Euros two years later as he racked up 79 caps for France – bounced back in style by capping off the 2002-03 campaign with the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Southampton before going the following season unbeaten to secure his second Premier League crown.

As well as the FA Cup win in 2005, his latter years are largely remembered for two incidents – the failed ‘pass penalty’ fiasco against Manchester City and the 2006 Champions League final.

Pires’ 287th and final Arsenal game lasted just 18 minutes as he was the man sacrificed by Wenger following Jens Lehmann’s early red card in Paris against Barcelona.

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Speaking later, Pires said: “It was a nightmare. I was very disappointed. When I saw my number on the fourth official’s board to be substituted, I couldn’t believe it. I never thought it would be me.

“It was my last game after six years at the club, a Champions League final in front of all my family in Paris where I became World Cup champion and it lasted just 12 minutes. 

“That was very hard to take.”

Pires went on to play for Villarreal and Aston Villa then turned out for FC Goa in 2014-15.

Away from football, he has three children with his second wife, French model Jessica Lemarie.

They had their daughter Naia, 18, in 2005 before sons Theo, 16, and Alessio, 12.

And Arsenal fans got excited in 2016 when Theo signed for the Gunners academy while his dad was part of the coaching set-up.

Pires then shared a photo a few months later of his lad captaining the Under-9s.

However, Pires Jr left the club a few years later – but still dreams of making a career as a footballer

In 2023, he was on the books with Ibiza-based outfit Pena Deportiva when he went on trial with another of his dad’s former teams, Villarreal.

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Theo signed for the Arsenal academy back in 2016

The youngster captained the Gunners at U9s level

Pires has two sons with his second wife – plus daughter Naia

The former winger constantly encourages his son

Pires Sr – who is enjoying retirement catching up with fellow ex-pros, cycling and playing padel – said: “He is having a great time, but the most important thing for him is the opportunity to be here with the U16s, where there is a lot of level and speed in the game.

“The level in Ibiza is different. He is learning things. It’s very hard because the level is higher, but he has to learn and enjoy himself.

“It is one of the best in Spain. Everyone knows that the youth academy is very important here. A lot of kids start at 12 or 13 and he trains with 15-year-olds. 

“You can see that they have learned to play fast and to move. There’s a bit more intensity than I expected, the first day after training he was exhausted because he’s not used to it, but he’s learning.

“It’s a very good experience because he’s already seeing the level he has to reach if he wants to be a professional one day.”

In a post on Instagram, Pires shared snaps of Theo in action for Pena Deportiva as well as Kai Rooney at Manchester United and Barcelona’s Shane Kluivert.

He wrote: “Guys, @waynerooney @patrickkluivert9, future looks good right? So proud of you my son for everything you do on and off the field.”

Ex-England captain Rooney replied: “Good luck to all the boys. Keep working hard.”

And former Barcelona and Netherlands icon Kluivert added: “Our boys are on the right path, we need to guide them towards their goal, they need to stay focussed and humble but super proud of them @robert_pires07 @waynerooney.”

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AFPPires was taken off just 18 minutes into the 2006 Champions League final[/caption]

ReutersHe was part of the French squad that won the 1998 World Cup[/caption]

Pires enjoys padel and plays with Zinedine Zidane

The Frenchman spent a spell in the Arsenal coaching set-up and still represents the club

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