Ian Wright: How The Arsenal Legend Became An Elite Striker

Ian Wright: How The Arsenal Legend Became An Elite Striker

Ian Wright, perhaps better known by his nickname of ‘Wrighty’, is one of the most successful strikers in Arsenal history. The England international had established himself as an Arsenal legend and become an elite striker in the Premier League by the end of his Gunners career.

A natural goalscorer in every sense, Wright had to scratch and claw for a chance to become a professional footballer – his story will warm even the coldest of hearts.

From his humble beginnings as an amateur player to his meteoric rise in the Premier League and beyond, we’ll be telling the story of Ian Wright in this piece.

Let’s start at the beginning – Wright had a troubled upbringing, suffering abuse at the hands of his stepfather and struggled to break into the professional game as a youngster. His first club was Ten-em-Bee, followed by Greenwich Borough, an outfit that is now defunct.

Ian Wright’s life and career before Arsenal

At Greenwich Borough, a semi-professional team, Wright was paid just £30 a week. He was quickly headhunted by Crystal Palace, who recognised his natural talents as a centre-forward and handed him a professional deal in 1985, when he was 22 years of age.

Wright was a roaring success at Palace. In 1989, he helped guide the club back to the First Division as they won the Championship playoffs – the following year, the Eagles came runners-up in the FA Cup.

Wrighty went on to score 90 goals in 225 games for Palace. In 1991, he was signed by Arsenal for £2.5 million – at the time, this was a club-record transfer fee.

Wright’s time with the Gunners

At Arsenal, Wright began to rise to international prominence. He was handed his first England cap in the same year he signed for the Gunners, going on to score 9 goals in 33 appearances for the national team.

On his league debut for Arsenal, Wright would score a hat-trick against Southampton – it was just a sign of things to come for the Woolwich native.

In total, Ian Wright scored 185 goals in 288 appearances during his time with the Gunners becoming the club’s record goalscorer and it took the extraordinary talents of Thierry Henry to surpass Wright’s tally. Additionally, across his Gunners tenure, Wrighty helped guide the North London club to a Premier League title, 2 FA Cups, a League Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Career after Arsenal exit

Wright left Arsenal in 1998 to join West Ham United for a £500,000 fee, – he played 22 times for the Hammers, scoring 9 goals, before departing the following year. While at West Ham, he also enjoyed a brief loan spell at Nottingham Forest.

He then made the jump to Celtic, making just 8 appearances and scoring 3 goals – he ended his professional career at Burnley in 2000, where he netted 4 goals in 15 games.

Although he had retired as a player, Wright’s career in the game was far from over. He moved from football into television, where he presented and starred in various shows such as Top of the Pops, Men and Motors and Gladiators.

Today, he is perhaps best known for his punditry work. He has been a regular on BBC’s Match of the Day for several years, but he has also appeared as a pundit on BT Sport and ITV. In 2020, he was named as pundit of the year by the FSA.

Jimmy Johnson

Jimmy Johnson

I have worked for NationalWorld since August 2021 - before then, I was a freelance journalist, writing for numerous publications. From 2023, I have been a part of the ever-growing NationalWorld Sports Network.