Ian Wright week continues here on angryofislington, and today as well as dipping into the archives for a couple of features on Wrighty, I can tell you there will be a giveaway of a signed football and poster of the man himself later this week, courtesy of wehustle.co.uk, the people behind the ‘Nothing to Something’ video I talked about here.
Here are the items in question:
Back to them later in the week. Meanwhile, two features from opposing ends of Ian Wright’s Arsenal career here, one from the Arsenal programme soon after he signed and one from 1997 as he approached the Arsenal goalscoring record.
The first is the bog-standard PR fluff that used to fill the programme, and to an extent still does. There are only so many ways you can ask a new player how they’re settling in and if they worry about the fee. In Wright’s case, the fee wasn’t quite a British record, but most of the bigger fees around that time were paid by foreign clubs for British players moving abroad – a fee of £2m plus between English clubs was big.
Wright mentions the Liverpool dominance that no one in 1991 realised was over. At that time, strange as it may seem, Liverpool had been league champions for the 18th time only the year before, while Man Utd hadn’t won a title for 23 years. Sadly, Arsenal’s two titles in 1989 and ’91, plus Leeds in ’92, were just a stopgap between the periods of Lancashire domination.
The second feature is from the Independent on Sunday six years later. This is written by Ian Ridley, who later collaborated with Tony Adams on his book ‘Addicted’, and also lists the Invincibles as one of the best ever club teams (with the recent Barcelona), and Arsène Wenger as the most media-friendly manager. Says Ridley, “Obviously Harry Redknapp is always very helpful and quote-friendly, along with Ian Holloway at Blackpool, but for someone who keeps taking knocks and coming back with insights and good humour, it has to be Arsène Wenger. You can ask him about anything and he will answer. I am going to ask him for the meaning of life very soon.” Who’d have guessed? If you’ve seen a picture of Ian Ridley lately, or watched him on Sky Sports, you’ll notice he’s aged quite a bit in the 15 years since this press mugshot was printed!
His feature is quite in depth. At the time Wright was on the brink of breaking Cliff Bastin’s long-standing Arsenal goalscoring record and also trying to break back into the England team as a regular under (relatively) new manager Glenn Hoddle. A few of Wright’s recent misdemeanours are mentioned, along with the fact that he couldn’t drive round London in a convertible for fear of people throwing things at him. Wright mentions the counselling he’s been undergoing to try and curb his tongue and temper, and channel his energy the right way.
He talks about a number of the centre-backs he was facing at the time and how he and they would try to gain an advantage with a few insults. Of Sol Campbell he says, “He never says a word and it really winds me up”! You can imagine Sol not paying the slightest attention to anything said by the hyperactive Wright for a whole 90 minutes.
The interview was conducted in the build up to England’s World Cup qualifier against Moldova (sounds familiar). Wright jokes that he is getting another chance at 48 (his age this year), then corrects it to 33. Having been left out by Venables, for a while under Hoddle he was a fixture in the squad if not always the team. Interestingly he talks about the effect of Paul Scholes in the England midfield for the previous match – the same Paul Scholes who is still plying his trade in the Premier League 15 years later.
The piece ends with Wright saying: “I know you have heard it all before but I don’t know if people realise how much it means to me. I want to achieve something so badly.” It wasn’t to be for England, but by the end of the season he did complete his set of domestic medals as Arsenal won their first title under Wenger.
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