Danny Mills, formerly of Manchester City, Middlesbrough and various other clubs where players not capable of making it at the very top in the early-mid 2000s plied their trade, hit out at Robert Pirès this week.
In the wake of Jamie Vardy winning a penalty at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (and yes, he won the penalty, he was not kicked), diving or making contact happen has been a little bit of a talking point. Despite the habits of players like Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard, English pundits still refuse to admit English players dive.
It’s always the fault of the ‘foreigner’, obviously. Because xenophobia, because stereotyping, because elitism.
So, Danny Mills believes Robert Pirès personally brought diving to England. Ignoring the number of English players who dived before Pirès arrived, or ignoring the number of foreign players (Jürgen Klinsmann was a notorious culprit) who have ‘dived’ in the past. So now, Bobby has had his say.
“I didn’t bring diving to England. There was one controversy against Portsmouth, but there was contact,” Pirès said. “When you run fast with the ball and dribble, a slight touch from a defender or even movement towards you can unbalance you.
“I looked for a foul sometimes, I provoked the defender for sure and most of the time I dribbled past, but I never dived and have never intentionally disrespected anyone.”
Well there you have it. Pirès was nationally shamed for the penalty he ‘won’ against Portsmouth in 2003, but he actually did the same thing that Vardy did on Sunday. Neither was right, only one has been lambasted.
English football doesn’t have a problem with diving, it has a problem with xenophobia.