On this day in 2005: Pires and Henry attempt the Cruyff penalty
On October 22nd, 2005 against Manchester City, on Arsene’s birthday of all days, Thierry convinced Robert to attempt to recreate the Cruyff penalty of 1982. Thierry and Robert both admit it was Titi’s idea. “Thierry knows all the rules of football. He’d seen Cruyff take that penalty, and he wanted to do it.” Robert said years later. To the embarrassment of the pair, something went wrong.
“Robert’s leg went numb,” Thierry explained, “but had he touched the ball, I would have been there to bury the ball.” In the ensuing melee, insults were hurled by City players, and expressions of disbelief were exchanged between Arsenal players. Fortunately for them, they won the game.
“Robert is a lucky boy because the team has not been punished.” Arsene said in the post-match. It was a victory for Arsenal but a moment that follows Robert around and can be found on any reputable list of penalty fails through the ages. It started in 1982, was debased by a nervous leg, and has since been righted by Thierry.
“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,” Robert explained in an interview earlier this year. That at least partially explains why when Thierry recreated the goal again in 2013, he passed the ball this time.