Arsenal’s Century Club – Ian Wright – Wright – Wright

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Ian Wright sits at number 2.

Ian Edward Wright, MBE (born 3 November 1963) was born in Woolwich, London.

Wright’s father absconded and left mother his Nesta to raise her family in a one-bedroom house in Brockley, South London. Ian said “That house wasn’t a good place for me, which is probably why I would stay outside kicking a tennis ball against a brick wall for hours on end,” He was bullied by an older step-brother, but it was his step-father’s cruelty which caused him most pain. “One of the few things my brother and I looked forward to in the house was Match of the Day, and my step dad used to take that away from us – just because he could.”

Wrighty as a boy

Wright’s primary school teacher Sydney Pigden taught him to read and write and made him the register and milk monitor. Tony Davis and Harold Palmer, who ran a local football team Ten-Em-Bee used pick him up at his house and drive him directly to training in an effort to keep him focused and out of trouble with the police. However in 1982, at 19 years old, he ended up in Chelmsford Prison for two weeks for non-payment of driving fines.

 

Despite having had trials at Southend United and Brighton during his teens, he was unable to attract sufficient interest to win a professional contract offer. Reverting to playing for amateur and non-league teams, he was left disillusioned about his chances of a career as a professional footballer.

But he eventually overcame his deprived childhood, his abusive step-father and a spell in prison to become a professional footballer relatively late in life.  A Crystal Palace talent scout, Peter Prentice, happened to see Wright playing for Dulwich Hamlet and invited him to have a trial at Selhurst Park. “It was only a three-month trial but I’d done it: I was able to call myself a professional footballer,” Wright said. “After nearly 11 years of rejection, bullying, prison and all sorts of nonsense, and I had finally gotten my dream.”

Having impressed then-manager Steve Coppell, he signed professional terms for Crystal Palace in August 1985, just three months short of his 22nd birthday. He quickly made his mark in his first season, scoring nine goals to finish as Palace’s second-highest scorer. When Mark Bright arrived on the Palace scene the following year the duo soon established a successful striking partnership and it was largely their goals which took the club to top flight via the playoffs in 1989. Ian was particularly instrumental that season, scoring 24 goals in the Second Division and a grand total of 33 in all competitions.

An ankle injury reduced his initial impact in the First Division. However, after recovering from the injury he made a dramatic appearance as a ‘super-sub’, in the 1990 FA Cup Final against Manchester United. He equalised for Palace a few minutes after coming onto the field forcing extra time, then putting them ahead in extra time. The eventual score was 3–3, but Palace lost the replay 1–0.

With attention-grabbing goals in the league and in the 3-3 FA Cup Final draw against Manchester United in 1990, it was little surprise when Wright gained the attention of bigger clubs. Arsenal paid a club record £2.5 million for the striker in 1991. At the time Arsenal were reigning champions and there were question marks over the necessity of the signing: Alan Smith, Kevin Campbell, Paul Merson and Anders Limpar were already among the clubs’ ranks He scored on his debut against Leicester City in a League Cup tie, and then scored a hat-trick on his League debut against Southampton. He won the Golden Boot in his first season by scoring 29 league goals, five of which were for Palace, and 31 in all competitions. He scored a hat-trick in the final game of the season against Southampton; his third goal being the last ever scored in the old First Division.

He went on to be Arsenal’s top scorer for six seasons in a row. He played a major part in the club’s success during the 1990s, winning an FA Cup and League Cup double in 1993; he scored in both the FA Cup Final and the replay against Sheffield Wednesday. Ian also helped Arsenal reach the 1994 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final, although he was suspended for the final in which Arsenal beat Parma 1–0.

The period that followed proved to be a difficult time for both Ian and Arsenal, manager George Graham was dismissed over illegal payments, and under caretaker Stewart Houston they could only manage a 12th place finish in the league. The arrival of Bruce Rioch heralded a bleaker time; the two did not get on and eventually Wright handed in a transfer request, which he later retracted. The arrival of Dennis Bergkamp heralded a brief but fruitful striking partnership, and in their first season playing together they helped Arsenal finish fifth in the league and qualify for the UEFA Cup. They also reached the Coca-Cola Cup semi-finals, where they went out on away goals to eventual winners Aston Villa.

By the time Arsène Wenger had arrived at Arsenal in September 1996, Ian was nearly 33. Despite his age, he continued to score regularly (being the second highest Premier League scorer in 1996–97 with 23 goals), and on 13 September 1997 he broke Cliff Bastin’s Arsenal goal scoring record with a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers. His final goal at Highbury came on 4 October 1997 against Barnsley and was his 300th career goal for both Crystal Palace and Arsenal. He scored his final goal for Arsenal on 6 January 1998 in a League Cup quarter-final victory against West Ham United.

While he was still a professional footballer at Arsenal, he published his autobiography, Mr Wright. In 1993, he wrote and released a single called “Do The Right Thing”. The song was co-written and produced by Chris Lowe (of Pet Shop Boys) and reached #43 the UK Singles Chart.

Shortly after his retirement from playing in 2000, Ian was awarded the MBE for his services to football.

In total he registered 185 goals for Arsenal; a record that has since been passed only by fellow Hall of Fame and Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry. On 15 July 2008, he finished 4th in ‘50 Greatest Gunners’ listed on the Arsenal website.

Wright went on to play for West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic and finally Burnley (helping them to win promotion) before his retirement in 2000. Since retirement Wright has made a career in punditry and television work.

Clubs: Crystal Palace, Arsenal, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Burnley
Caps: 33, 9 goals
Honours: 1 Premier League, 2 FA Cups, 1 League Cup, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup

Shortly after his retirement from playing in 2000, Ian was awarded the MBE for his services to football.

click to see expanded

Ian scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against Crystal Palace at Highbury on October 1st, 1994.

GunnerN5

54 Responses to Arsenal’s Century Club – Ian Wright – Wright – Wright

  1. Big Raddy says:

    I am so sorry that for one my of all time favourite players posts we have had technical problems. (blame wordpress and Apple)

    I love Ian. He gave me unforgettable moments and I expect my dying thoughts will be of his goal against Everton at the North Bank. His arrival at AFC was when we had been successful but dull and we were desperate for a bit of magic, I an had it in spades.

    Brilliant bloke, brilliant footballer. True AFC hero

  2. GunnerN5 says:

    Thank you for taking the trouble to get the post published, you don’t be sorry as it’s not your fault.

  3. Sue says:

    Omg, now you’re talking GN5 (& chas) 👌
    My favourite Arsenal player… oh how I loved Ian Wright, Wright, Wright!!
    He is the reason I became a goonerette (😜) back in 1991.. I loved everything about him, from his goalscoring..to his celebrations, his work rate.. even his personality, he was such a funny guy.. imo he had it all!!
    I loved his passion for the club & it was obvious to see, that he gave everything for the club & pulling that shirt on, meant everything to him & he appreciated every second of it! The day he broke that record was amazing, I was so happy (for him, as well as myself!)
    I was absolutely heartbroken when we sold him to West Ham.. but life goes on..and in a weird kind of way, was still glad I could watch him in the PL (even if it meant seeing him in claret & blue)
    One programme i watched, focusing on his upbringing, (& meeting the teacher, he thought had passed away) made me cry (like a baby!) … he is such a genuine, down to earth guy & probably one of the nicest people you’re ever likely to meet…
    He is a legend & he will always have a special place in my heart ❤

  4. fred1266 says:

    Why did we sell him to WHM

  5. Big Raddy says:

    Fred. Because he was old and had lost is pace. And TH14.

    Is Ian Wright our first Londoner?

  6. GunnerN5 says:

    Yes he is Raddy.

  7. GunnerN5 says:

    I thought you would enjoy that one Sue.

  8. Sue says:

    I did indeed, GN5… thank you very much 😊👍

  9. Sue says:

    Congrats to Charlton (& Bielik, who picked up MOTM!) He looks pretty impressive!
    What a way to lose – Sunderland must be gutted!!

  10. GunnerN5 says:

    Wow Chas, Those videos were a reminder that he had the most amazing knack of scoring – like no other player I have seen (Messi excepted)

    Those were also a collection of great teams – and how I miss those days…………………….

  11. LB says:

    Ian Wright, Wright, Wright.

  12. Big Raddy says:

    Strange how I can remember so many of those Wright goals yet hardly recall any from last season!

    Bielik? What more can he do to impress the AFC management but performing in Div 1 may be his level, we shall find out. I guess they will bring him into the squad for pre-season and asses whether he can step up to PL standard.

    It was a coup when we signed him as many clubs were attempting to do so. Perhaps he can fulfill his potential.

  13. RA says:

    Morning People,

    Hope you are all feeling well, and good to go?

  14. RA says:

    Raddy,

    I am not sure if I have converted you to US English, but … referring to Bielik … you said; “bring him into the squad for pre-season and asses” – now was that the donkeys, or was that rear end gunner? 🥺

    [Note to Sue: that is not lowering the tone – it is a punctilious attempt to comprehend!] 🤪

  15. Sue says:

    Oh RA… you’ve disappointed me (it’s never too early to lower the tone, you know!!) 😛 hehe!!

  16. Sue says:

    Speaking of donkeys, RA.. I’m not very impressed with Mustafi’s latest comments.. so I fear for my health (& fingernails) on Wednesday & feel a night behind the sofa is incoming!

  17. Big Raddy says:

    There is not a post for today – unless someone wants to write one!

  18. allezkev says:

    Excellent work GN5.
    As said above by others, I can also recall so many of Wright’s goals and his celebrations.
    Strangely enough his penalty miss in the Charity Shield vs Man Utd sticks in my mind, the great goal against Auxerre in the CWC, a goal he got at Carrow Road where he turned the Norwich defence in knots, turning back on himself and bending a great shot home, he had it all pace, good in the air, aggression, the ability to take the shot early and hit the ball cleanly, he was a superb striker and still is a top bloke.

  19. RA says:

    For those waiting patiently for tomorrow’s succulent Post, here’s something to while away the time. 😃

    Sheik Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan the half-brother of Sheik Mansour, the Man City owner, has apparently agreed a deal in principle to buy out Mike Ashley the current owner of Newcastle United for allegedly £350m.

    Wowsie – that will bring a cherubic grin to the fizogs of the Geordie fans.

    Part of the deal is likely to be that Benitez will stay as manager – and that could be key for the success of their team, if he can bring in players Ashley has allegedly refused to spend money on well then just watch ’em go.

    All well and good for Ashley, the Barcodes fans, and the players salaries, but for those of us without a profligate Sheik to fund us, it does not seem too good for our chances of making the top 4 anytime soon.

    UEFA brought in the Financial Fair Play rules to prevent professional football clubs spending more money than they earn in the attempt to achieve success, and in doing so, get into financial problems which could threaten their long-term survival.

    There are some straightforward algorithms linking losses, commercial income and salaries to keep a mathematical check on spending, particularly on transfers etc, and failure to keep within the allowed limits could result in financial penalties (yeah right) or suspension from competitions. [you’re ‘avin a giraffe] – I hope that means what I think it means! 🤪

    The idea that Citeh, and possibly, if the change of ownership rumour is true, Newcastle, could go bust if the owners throw a lot of money at those clubs is derisory, but for other financially smaller clubs the problem could be potentially serious, but these rules must be observed by all clubs to have any relevance.

    So how does the news of Newcastle’s purchase by a super-wealthy owner affect other clubs then, and specifically Arsenal? It is well known that Arsenal have prided themselves for years on the mantra that the cub must follow a policy of self-sustainability, and even back in the days of Gorgeous George Graham it has been claimed that his own version of that policy was to say “I’ll nae pay silly money for any player”.

    Well, despite the danger of repeating myself, yet again, like the eructation of a dyspeptic dragon belching noxious gases far and wide, there is undeniably a direct link between money spent on transfers and success on the pitch. For the sake of clarity for those who prefer to respond in a negatory way to that truism: Spending money on transfers does not mean throwing £50m to buy a player worth £10m, or to buy 20 players for £30m each, when the numbers of non-home-grown players, over the age of 21, is limited to 17, out of a squad of 25 players. Buying the best available players to improve the squad (not difficult in our case) is what Citeh, Chelsea, ‘Pool and the Spuds have done – and guess what – they are currently the top teams in the Premier.

    It is pointless to argue this further – but if a club could buy Messi, Hazard, etc, and pay them appropriate salaries, without being restricted by the FFP, then the chances of that club winning competitions is exponentially increased.

    Compare that to a club who can only afford a relatively meagre budget, based on self-sustainablity, like say Arsenal, then there is an increased chance of their competitive success being reduced, no matter how sensible their financial policy may seem.

    Citeh are currently being investigated by UEFA, but the chances of them being given more than a smack on the wrist, if there has been any breaches of the FFP rules is minimal, and that will ensure they continue to have an unfair advantage over the rest us. Now they may be joined by Newcastle in the near future.

    Incidentally, there are exceptions to the FFP rules in that expenditure on youth systems, and on community infrastructure projects are allowed.
    That has to be a benefit to the club, the community and the possibility of having a productive youth culture, all of which would be welcomed by most fans.

    So – wealthy owners are not necessarily all bad if they spend on improving a club.

    Kroenke or a big spending Sheik? Give me a Sheik, rattle and roll, and the increased hope of winning the Premier League and/or the CL, anytime, baby.

  20. TotalArsenal says:

    Excellent post, GN5. A lovely guy with a deadly instinct for goals. My nicest memory of him is how he was so happy for Dennis when he scored his first goal for the Arsenal. That showed what a fine character he is.

  21. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi RA,

    Back in the 30’s it was the Gunners who were throwing the money about and it worked then just as it works today – we got some of the best players available in the UK and it paid huge dividends.

    The main difference I see in today’s market place is that teams have their pick of players from all around the globe – so they have a far bigger market to choose from and it pays off.

    Maybe it’s a case of what goes around come around?

  22. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning RA,

    Back in the 30’s it was the Gunners who were throwing the money about and it worked then just as it works today – we got some of the best players available in the UK and it paid huge dividends.

    The main difference I see in today’s market place is that teams have their pick of players from all around the globe – so they have a far bigger market to choose from and it pays off.

    Maybe it’s a case of what goes around come around?

  23. GunnerN5 says:

    Oh dear word press is at it again…………….

  24. allezkev says:

    1997/98 is still my favourite season Total and the relationship between Dennis and Ian played a huge part in the success we had and were to have later on.

    Maybe if Arsene had brought on Ian from the subs bench in the FAC final at Wembley and not the very average Chris Wreh then he wouldn’t have got the hump and left for West Ham?
    TA, I could never really understand why he would walk away from a chance to play in the CL for the dubious delights of Upton Park?

  25. GunnerN5 says:

    allezkev, I was under the impression that AW was looking at replacements and Ian feared he would not get a regular place in the team.

  26. fred1266 says:

    So true sue as soon as I saw nustafi commenting on defend it just raised my pressure

  27. chas says:

    Just back from 2 days away.

    Cheers, GN5.
    Virtually everyone I’ve ever spoken to liked Ian Wright as a player. His enthusiasm was so infectious.

  28. GunnerN5 says:

    Ah ha he’s back – you had me worried Chas it’s so unusual not to see you on AA.

    Ian Wright was a very special player who possessed an extraordinary gift for scoring goals – he made it look ridiculously easy. We were extremely lucky to have had the gift of seeing him play with the likes of Bergkamp, Henry, et al.

    My wife has cataract surgery today so I will not be around too much.

  29. Sue says:

    GN5.. I hope your wife recovers well after her op 😊

    Now onto Villa v Derby… can’t decide who I’d rather have in the PL.. Fat Frankie Lampard (can’t you tell half of my family are Hammers!) or Jack Grealish…. well anyway, it should be a good game… always like watching Harry Wilson!

  30. Sue says:

    Cashley bloody Cole starts….. 🙄

  31. fred1266 says:

    Hope u got lots of rest and had lots of fun chad

  32. fred1266 says:

    I hope the makes a speedy recovery G5

  33. fred1266 says:

    Yea Game going good

  34. Big Raddy says:

    RA. 10.39. Very interesting comment. I share your fears about the Kroenkes

    GN5. Wish your wife a speedy recovery.

    Terrific last 20 minutes at Wembley. The best team lost.

  35. Sue says:

    Fred… was a good game! Why didn’t Waghorn & Marriott start though?? Baffling!!
    Looking forward to seeing Grealish in the PL (the cocky little sod, haha!!) 😃

  36. Big Raddy says:

    Would you accept Arsenal losing the EL final if it was guaranteed Spurs would lose the CL final?

    Or would you prefer that we won our Cup and Spurs won the CL?

    Obviously the best would be an AFC victory and Spurs loss but …

    In days of Yore we would put this to a vote but I no longer have the ability to create a poll 😀

  37. TotalArsenal says:

    Kev, my favourite season was the invincible one but that was also one of my favourites. 🙂

  38. TotalArsenal says:

    BR, my second best scenario would definitely be both losing the final. We can deal with another year of no CL but the Spuds winning it would be disastrous.

  39. fred1266 says:

    Yea they made a big difference when they came on

  40. fred1266 says:

    Didn’t ir have some controversy with grealish a while ago

  41. fred1266 says:

    BR come let not think of such folly

  42. allezkev says:

    Not sure GN5, that could be the case but if I recall Arsene at the time I think he said that he didn’t want Ian to leave, maybe AW couldn’t give him assurances about playing time due to the development of Anelka, but as it turned out we had a lot of injuries among our forwards during the early part of 98/99 and Wrighty probably would have got a lot of game time…

  43. Sue says:

    Fred.. he’s controversial full stop 😃 you can guarantee he’ll be ruffling some feathers most weeks!!
    Although, he did make me laugh in his post match interview – he just had to mention scoring against Birmingham!!

  44. allezkev says:

    Sorry to hear about the eye op GN5.
    Regards to your better half…

  45. allezkev says:

    BR, I’ve heard that scenario before, but to me beating Liverpool in the Super Cup is my big hope for next season.

  46. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi all just back from the hospital, my wife appears to be fine but the next 24 hours are important.

    Allezkev, I’ve had cataract surgery on both eyes and it is simply marvelous – like having 20 year old eyes all over again.

  47. allezkev says:

    GN5, I’m glad to hear that, fingers crossed for Mrs GN5.

    Total, 2003/04 was a wonderful season for sure, but we threw it away 12 months before and that’s always rankled with me.

  48. fred1266 says:

    Yes G5 glad Mrs is doing well

  49. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Just one day until a European final yet I am strangely underwhelmed.

    Why?

  50. chas says:

    NEW POST

%d bloggers like this: