A tribute to Ian Wright on retiring from MOTD – A great man as well as an Arsenal legend

Ian Wright’s life could be turned into a movie.

Not just his story about not becoming professional into the age of 22 having given up catching his dream, so often told he was chasing illusions.

The actual beginning and end of any film could very well be centred around Match of The Day.

At the age of 60, the former Gunner has announced he will be walking away from the show at the end of this season.

His first appearance was in 1997, his ‘Graceland’.

The man himself will see the irony that he gets to walk away from the programme on his own terms. No longer the soundtrack to his abuse, now the reward for his good decisions.

Never again a prop to humiliate and make him feel worthless, instead an opportunity that opens other doors in the world of media to follow.

A vehicle to make a child feel lonelier than a young boy should, a place where he found lifetime friends.

Since 1964, Match of The Day became Ian Wright’s comfort blanket from emotional torture, his Shield so that the beatings hurt less, his safe place unique to him, his magic cape where he could let his imagination go wild and be anything he wanted to be like his larger-than-life heroes on the pitch.

In a childhood turned upside down, football was the one aspect that couldn’t be controlled.

For a few minutes of highlights, he could switch off with the notion that anything was possible, the possibilities endless.

Unfortunately, his stepfather was aware of all of that. He would purposely wait for the same time every Saturday.

The start of the broadcast would always coincide with the exact moment he demanded his stepson turn around and face the wall.

No matter the money, the trophies, the lifestyle, the striker never forgot that feeling. The anger of tears rolling down his cheeks as he could only listen to what was happening, having to let his mind fill in the blanks.

However rich he became, zero fortune could erase the memory of crying himself to sleep.

Why would a grown man treat a child that way? In Wright’s own words, ‘because he could’

It helped shape a child into an angry teenager whose life could have gone a different way without the sport.

As a player and a pundit, audiences relate to him because he’s never forgotten where he came from.

A life that makes you humble when suddenly you live a lavish lifestyle.

Ian Wright was scarred but it hasn’t defined him, it hasn’t been an excuse to hurt others.

In fact, it’s motivated him to help others.

He’s adopted, made money for charities and helped spread awareness of the 90 percent of times a Child in Britain is present out of 1.6 million domestic abuse cases.

Even decades later the iconic song from MOTD takes him back to staring at a cold/ damp wall that triggered his asthma.

Understandably he’s ’empowered’ that he went full circle. The only reason he can’t watch now is because he’s sat in the guest chair.

As he does for ITV and BBC at International tournaments as well as various projects on YouTube.

None of that is his biggest achievement though.

Ian Wright’ OBE’s biggest accolade isn’t his Prem medal or his other collection of domestic cup honours.

It’s not that only Thierry Henry has scored more goals for Arsenal in our history.

It’s not his 33 England caps.

It’s not even being made a Freeman of London.

Ian Wright’s biggest success?

It’s the man he’s become.

That smile that makes other do the same.

A personality that owns a room.

The person Ian Wright has become outweighs everything.

Good luck Wrighty on whatever you do next.


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Tags Ian Wright MOTD


  1. The first test of a truly great man is his humility, you deserve all your accolades bro, maybe real life begins at sixty.

    1. Agreed. He should be proud of the life he has led both on and off the pitch and I expect he will continue to reap the rewards.

  2. I don’t know if I’ve misunderstood your article Dan, but are you suggesting that Ian was enjoying MOTD in 1964, when he was just one year old, and he was getting beaten by his stepdad at that age?
    Anyway, I’ll miss him tremendously, but I’m sure we’ve not seen the last of Wrighty, far too good a personality to keep down, and who’s going to take our part when he goes?

  3. Met him in a tattoo shop in Burnt Oak many moons ago, nice and chatty guy, then again at a Dave Chapelle gig at the Leicester Square Theatre, where I couldn’t resist singing Ian Wright ,Wright, Wright, Wright. It seem to amuse him seeing it was coming from an Old man

  4. One of the things he said he wanted to make time for was het to see Charlie Patino play in the flesh.

    Is there any greater supporter of our young players than Ian Wright? He is always talking them up and when Wrighty talks people listen. He even champions those who have left the club like Alex Iwobi – once a gunner, always a gunner.

    Perhaps the club needs to give him some official role to honour the commitment, it could be part time or merely honorary to recognize the effort he has already made.

  5. Loved Wrighty. I still to this day have never seen a player, move like Wrighty. I could not believe the Gazelle like sprints he made and he seemed to bounce like a marvel comic character. Brilliant player and a brilliant personality.

  6. What I always MOST admired and still do about Wrighty was and still is his disarming honesty of character.

    His vibrant , cheeky, boyish, impish personality makes him perhaps the single most compellingly likeable player I have ever come across.

  7. Thanks Dan. A great tribute. The fact that he could also walk away on his own terms also says a lot about his character. As a pundit, Wright’s half time commentary during Arsenal games often help me to get a saner perspective on how the game is developing. Will miss him terribly. Best wishes to him as well.

  8. Dan
    My 3 favourite Arsenal players as a supporter since 1979 are: Ian Wright, Liam Brady and Patrick Vieira.
    Legend is a word brandished too often and too lightly for my liking but Wrighty deserves that accolade at least from me because of the depths he rose to from his background and for what he has become.

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