BY REUBEN LEWIS / @rlewisafc
On Saturday the 12th of May, I met my hero Robert Pires, and I hope my story of how and what happened leading up to this miraculous event will fill your hearts with warmth and joy!
With my exams around the corner, this weekend was not expected to consist of anything other than worrying about Arsenal revision. However, on Saturday afternoon, my French mate Nathan texted me saying Robert Pires would be playing in a charity match at Craven Cottage that night, knowing he is my hero. I wondered how could this be? After all Robert was supposed to be in India. I instantly asked Nathan of his source; apparently his football coach is good friends with Pires and was also playing. That's good enough I thought.
I rampaged through the house, destroying all that came before me, in search of a permanent marker pen. Success! I carefully removed my Pires poster from my wall, got my Arsenal scarf, and set off to Craven Cottage, dribbling at the thought of meeting Bobby - the man the word dreamy was invented for. But more importantly, he is a legend, who throughout my life I've tried to emulate on the pitch, and also with facial hair. I have tried in vain on numerous occasions to grow a goatee. All God has given me is bloody bumfluff! I may or may not have once cut a bit of hair off and stuck it on my chin; however I do not wish to comment on speculation.
I entered a deserted Craven Cottage, and caught a glimpse of Bobby. If there was such thing as being drunk with excitement, then I most certainly was. There were only 20 people there; wives, girlfriends, friends. And me and Nathan. It seemed a pretty private affair which meant I was definitely going to get the chance to meet him. Pires got the ball, shimmied past an overweight balding man, and slotted it beyond the keeper. I stood up, surrounded by the family and friends of those involved, and started singing at the top of my voice, "SUPER BOBBY PIRES".
Then. Then. Jogging back to the halfway line, he saw me, Arsenal scarf aloft, singing his name - and waved. I felt like a 14-year-old girl who just received a smile from Justin Bieber. But whatever, I didn't care. From his point of view, I probably looked like a drunk hooligan/fanboy who had somehow broken into the ground. Looking back on it.... I think he was waving at security to eject me from the stands... Damn.
At half time, he came up to the stand, presumably to see his friends/wife. We were all pretty close to each other, so I jumped off my seat, pen and poster in hand, and approached him. I think my exact words were: "DFHGVJBNKMROB". I looked at him. He looked at me.
After a bit of incoherent jabbering from myself, I got a picture with him, and he signed my poster, as you can see below.
Play resumed and 45 minutes later, after several more Pires goals - celebrated by myself in a manner that the word 'exaggerated' doesn't do justice - the game was over. We walked down to the front and one of the other players invited Nathan and I onto the pitch for another picture with Pires. I asked Bobby for his boots (no harm in trying) and he laughed and said 'No my friend, I need them for next week - I'm going to Cameroon for a charity match, with Alex Song!' *EXCLUSIVE* news from the Wonder of Wenger. In The Know and all that.
It was an amazing evening. The prospect of meeting Robert Pires has been a dream *Cringe-O-meter in overdrive* ever since I first saw him in an Arsenal shirt. The way he caressed the ball and split defences open at will - it's how football should be played. Every time I wear my Arsenal scarf I will know it has been on the neck of a legend.
And Robert Pires.
Up The Arse! (An appropriate sign-off, continuing the homoerotic theme to this article)