Robert Pires has revealed he was persuaded to join Arsenal after a personal call from Arsene Wenger.

Pires joined Arsenal in 2000 and went on to become a legend at the club.

Yet, it might never have happened.

The then Marseille winger had offers from Real Madrid and Juventus at the time, two teams tough to turn down in any circumstances.

Pires, though, received a phone call from Arsene Wenger, and the rest is history.

“It was difficult – I had three options in Arsenal, Real Madrid and Juventus,” Pires told the Daily Mail.

“And normally if Madrid want you, you go to Madrid. It’s one of the best clubs in the world.

“But then Wenger called me. If the manager calls you, you know you are very important to him. When I had this contact with Wenger I thought: ‘This is the great opportunity’.

“And then I spoke with Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Emmanuel Petit at Euro 2000 and they all told me: ‘No, no. You need to go for Arsenal!’.”

Pires scored 62 goals in 189 league appearances for Arsenal.

Along the way, he won two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, the FWA Player of the Year award and three appearances in the PFA Team of the Year.

He would eventually end up in Spain when he joined Villareal in 2006.

The move came after he was subbed off during the Champions League final against Barcelona.

Jens Lehmann had received an early red card, and Pires was sacrificed to get Manuel Almunia onto the pitch.

It wasn’t the best way to end what had been a fantastic six years at Arsenal.

Pires now regularly trains at London Colney and offers advice to Arsenal’s young players.

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News and feature writer with a BA in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of East London. Long-time Arsenal fan also following Sevilla and local side Southend United. You can find me on Twitter @jeinchy29 talking about Arsenal and the issues affecting the English game,