Ian Edward Wright, known now by many a name but during in footballing career he was fondly known as ‘Wrighty’.
Born in the fine year of 1963, he went on to be a half decent striker at Crystal Palace and then Arsenal and boy, did he love to score!
He had a bit of a strange start to his career in football, he had trials at both Southend and Brighton while in his teenage years but neither club thought he was good enough and let him go on his merry way.
Cheesed off no doubt, he stuck with Sunday league clubs and decided to secure his future in the world of plastering – no not the kind of plastering that involved alcohol!
His employment obviously didn’t pay well, as he couldn’t afford to pay his tax and insurance on his car and ended up paying the price with a fourteen day sentence in Chelmsford Prison! Numpty!
Then one bright Sunday Morning, Wrighty was strutting his stuff for his local side when a scout from Crystal Palace spotted him and rest as they say is history…..
Wrighty had a trial at Palace and Steve Coppell persuaded him to sign a professional contract. Can you believe he was nearly 22 years old then! Arsene Wenger would nowadays be thinking it’s time to sell him, not sign him up! 🙂
Wrighty soon fitted in at Palace and the goals came thick and fast, and in 1989 his goals helped take Palace into Division 1 – His first season in top league was hampered by injuries but in 1990 during the FA Cup Final against Manchester United, Wrighty became a bit of a hero, coming on as sub and scoring a goal that would take the match to a replay. A replay palace lost sadly! During this same time, he flirted with the England B set up.
Wrighty made his mark on the top division, he helped them win a Zenith Cup at Wembley, scoring twice in the win against Everton, and scored a hat-trick in just eighteen minutes against Wimbledon in the 1990-91 season.
Wrighty scored 117 goals in 253 starts and 24 substitute appearances over six seasons for Palace – Not bad I suppose!
And then his life changed ….
In 1991 a huge sum of £2.5 Million was enough to convince Palace to sell Wrighty to Arsenal – that was a lot of money then, a club record fee for a player. Actually £2.5 Million is still a lot of money when it comes to Arsene Wenger’s spending!!
He got himself off the mark in his first game against Leicester, and never looked back.
He won the Golden Boot in his first season, and he scored a hat-trick in the final game of the season, the third goal was the last ever scored in the old Division 1!
Wrighty was on fire, and very much at home at his new club. For the next six seasons he was Arsenal’s top goal scorer and was pivotal to the clubs success – winning the FA Cup and League Cup Double in 1993 and the UEFA Cup in 1994, well the run in to the latter, he was suspended for the final!
Troubled times followed for Arsenal, George Graham was sacked after a bit of pick pocketing money he shouldn’t have had and Stewart Houston took over short term, we ended up 12th that season, but had a good run in the Cup Winners Cup. We all remember what happened in the final!!
Then along came Brue Rioch (1995) – what an impact he had on Wrighty, sadly though not a good one. Wrighty handed in a transfer request as he and the new boss just did not get on. Thankfully this request was later retracted.
I often wonder what would have happened to us if Rioch had stayed our manager, a man that signs Dennis Bergkamp can’t be all bad, can he? But we finished fifth and his reign was soon over.
Another manager was soon appointed, Arsene was his name and Wrighty was now 33 years old – he carried on scoring for fun and in 1996-97 he was the second highest scorer in the premiership with 23 goals. The following season, 1997-98 Wrighty became the clubs highest ever goal scorer. He broke Cliff Bastin’s record 178 goals in style, a hat-trick against Fat Sam’s Bolton 😛
Later that season, he suffered a bad hamstring injury and played a limited part in the clubs double winning season.
Wright scored a total of 185 goals for Arsenal in 288 matches – his final goal at Highbury came on 4 October 1997 against Barnsley and was his 300th goal in his career, and his final goal for Arsenal on 6 January 1998 in a League Cup quarter-final victory against West Ham.
West Ham would turn out to be his next club, he moved for £500,000. He never reached the same heights again. He got sent off against Leeds United, went straight to the referee’s room and smashed it up!! His name was still in the papers, but sadly for the wrong reasons!!
After West Ham he had a few games for Nottingham Forest, Celtic and Burnley. He helped the latter get promoted and then decided to hang his boots up in 2000
He finished his club career with 323 goals in all competitions.
1991 was the year Wrighty made his International debut. Crazy really when you look back on his goal scoring record. He played 87 matches over a period of eight years, but only ever started 17 times.
I always thought that Wrighty was a face in International Football that just never seemed to fit – I wonder why one of the most prolific goal scorers in the league was not selected to play for his country. I have my own theory, but it’s probably best kept to myself.
Look at the players picked before him
All I know is, it was England’s loss; maybe they would have done a lot better at the Euro’s, the World Cup… Who knows?
The only manager who trusted Wrighty for England was Hoddle, yep, a Spud!!
Only a week to go and we can get back club football 🙂