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‘He knew how to unsettle me’ – Robert Pires says Manchester United legend Gary Neville didn’t stop ‘insulting’ him during Arsenal matches


Robert Pires says Man Utd hero Gary Neville was ‘always on top of him’ (Picture: Arsenal Media)

Arsenal legend Robert Pires admits former Manchester United defender Gary Neville ‘knew how to unsettle him’ and didn’t stop dishing out ‘insults’ during Premier League matches.

While Pires enjoyed individual and collective success at Highbury, winning two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and receiving the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award in 2002, he struggled against United.

In the 13 games he played against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, Pires came out on top just twice, suffering seven defeats.

The French legend has described his record against Manchester United as ‘catastrophic’ and says that is largely down to Neville, who was ‘always at him’.

Reflecting on Arsenal’s intense rivalry with Manchester United in the early 2000s, Pires told The Times: ‘My record against them is catastrophic and I know it.

‘My friend Gary Neville. Psychologically, he was always on top of me. He would talk to me all the time, he’d insult me all the time.

‘It was in English, so I didn’t understand anything, but I knew they weren’t nice words. He was always talking to me, always barging me, always looking for me.

Neville was a mainstay at Old Trafford for almost two decades (Picture: Getty)

‘He knew how to unsettle me. And unfortunately, he won. I had run-ins with him, with Wayne Rooney, all the time.’

Pires signed for Arsenal in the summer of 2000 and went on to score 87 goals in 287 appearances for the Gunners, as well as winning a number of trophies.

Neville, too, enjoyed huge success during his club career, winning eight Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and three FA Cups before retiring in 2011.

Manchester United and Arsenal will renew their rivalry on Thursday when Mikel Arteta’s side visit Old Trafford just four days after Ralf Rangnick was appointed as the Red Devils interim manager until the end of the season.

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