A tribute to Ian Wright on being honoured in the Premier League Hall of Fame

A tribute to Ian Wright on being honoured in the Premier League Hall of Fame

Ian Wright became the 4th Gunner this week to be inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame.

All 16 members, I’m sure, are honoured to have been acknowledged, yet you sense not many will have been as proud and humbled more than our former striker.

Despite at one point being Arsenal’s highest goal scorer, Golden Boots, Cup Finals and in possession of every domestic winner’s medal available to him, Wright has never forgotten where he came from, what his world pre-football looked like, and where his life could have ended up going.

That’s why he remains such a popular personality within the sport because he’s relatable. Why do think every time Adidas want to sell merchandise, they ask the 58-year-old to be their poster boy?

Because if you’re a youngster growing up in London, where gang culture and knife crime is an issue, here is a role model to look up to.

Evidence that you can come from a broken home, be in the wrong crowd, feel uneducated, and yet use your passion as an an outlet.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 21: (L-R) Wayne Rooney, Ian Wright, Patrick Vieira and Vincent Kompany receive Premier League Hall of Fame medallions during the Premier League Hall of Fame 2022 on April 21, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images for eSC)

While wealthy now, Wright never forgot that feeling of poverty, struggling to feed his wife who was carrying their first child, after being rejected by professional clubs.

He has often told the story of breaking down in prison (driving without being insured) and that being his turning point, the moment he vowed that he had to make his dream come true for his family.

At the age of 22 he was still essentially a part timer, playing for Greenwich Borough while working for Tunnel Refineries.

Given how he would easily adapt to the highest level, you can only imagine the mental anguish knowing you’re so talented and yet not getting the stage to prove it while your peers did.

Crystal Palace offered him a 2-week trial after spotting him playing on a Sunday morning.

How many young players would have to deal with being conflicted by having to walk away from a full-time job which put food on the table for the sake of chasing a dream that might end after 14 days?

A fortnight was extended to 3 months and 6 weeks into his agreement at the age of 22, after scratching and clawing to get noticed, Ian Wright was a professional footballer.

There was zero adjusting needed from non-League, Wright scoring the goals that would take the Eagles from Division 2 and getting a brace in the FA CUP Final.

So, it quickly became clear that the industry had failed this talent by not giving him an opportunity sooner.

I often write about, over the years, there not being enough leaders in our dressing room who teach youngsters the ethos of the badge, the honour of the shirt, the club’s values and tradition.

Listen to Ian Wright talk about sleeping round David Rocastle’s house the night before his first Arsenal training session, it…

Read Full Story At: Just Arsenal.

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