Robert Pires Henry.

Robert Pires says Thierry Henry forced him to take Arsenal pass penalty

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It was one of those moments that will be instilled in the minds of all who were present. Robert Pires, a man paid thousands upon thousands of pounds a week to kick a football, failed to do just that at a pivotal moment in a game between Arsenal and Manchester City.

The French winger was, along with Thierry Henry, part of the Premier League's most exciting attacking line-up. Together, they were the source of inspiration and creativity in a Gunners team used to winning titles, but their actions against the Citizens in 2005 will forever go down as one of the greatest botch jobs in football history.

Attempting the infamous 'pass penalty' that Leo Messi and Luis Suarez so expertly dispatched last weekend, Pires was given the task of rolling the ball towards Henry. However, he completely missed the ball with a half-hearted kick and the referee awarded a free-kick in the opposite direction.

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Of course, Barcelona's successful attempt has brought the moment back into the topic of conversation and Danny Mills caused quite a stir when he labeled Pires' actions as disrespectful whilst simultaneously praising Messi and Suarez for their effort.

Pires, like all of us, couldn't understand where Mills, who was playing for Manchester City that day, was coming from and chose the same publication to write a response. He tells the funny story behind the penalty, including the claim that he originally told Henry that he didn't want to do it before the striker pressured him.

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Peer pressure

He wrote in The Times: "The story of our missed penalty is actually a funny one. The day before the City game, Thierry and I practised it at training. There was one difference though: he was passing and I was scoring. We never said we would do it against City if we had a penalty.

"It turned out that we got one. I took the ball to take it, Thierry didn’t say anything and I scored it, putting the ball on the right of the goalkeeper. Then when we were awarded a second one, Thierry approached me and said: 'Let’s do it but we change the roles, you pass and I score!'

"I replied that I didn’t feel like doing it. The game was not won yet, it was a tight game and I just thought he should just take it normally and score. But he insisted, so I acquiesced.

"Unfortunately, my mind was not into it. It makes me smile now when I think about it, but my brain froze as I was about to roll the ball to him and I missed it! I can see the funny side of it."

Diving claims

Mills, who regularly rattled the cage when playing against Arsenal, went on to say in his controversial article that he had never taken a liking to Pires because, to him, he was the player that introduced diving to the English game.

He wrote: "I will always remember him as the player who, in my view, really brought diving into the English game; his habit of throwing himself to the ground without any provocation always infuriated me."

Arsenal v Manchester City

Pires caused national outrage in 2003 after appearing to make the most of Dejan Stefanovic's clumsy tackle to earn Arsenal a penalty against Portsmouth. Having been 1-0 down at the time, the resulting penalty gave the Gunners a route back into the game and eventually allowed them to finish the season unbeaten. However, Pires still maintains to this day that he did not dive.

He continued: "I didn’t bring diving to England. There was one controversy against Portsmouth, but there was contact. 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."

Alexie Smertin tackles Robert Pires

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Theo Walcott
Premier League
Thierry Henry
Robert Pires
Robert Pires

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