Ian Wright reveals he nearly forced a move to Chelsea

Arsenal legend Ian Wright told Radio 5 Live that he handed in a transfer request whilst Bruce Rioch was in charge, and held talks with Chelsea.

The striker’s move fell through thanks to David Dein taking up the decision to side with the striker and remove Rioch before it was too late, with his transfer request going straight to the top.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Wright said: “Yes [I could have joined Chelsea], under Glenn Hoddle. It was that year that I had with Bruce Rioch that was a real tough one.

“I handed in a transfer request by the time it got to a serious point because I genuinely thought I was leaving. Arsenal don’t sack managers and obviously George Graham went.

“After Bruce Rioch came in, after the first year, we literally argued every day and I thought I should just leave, as there was no way Arsenal were going to get rid of him and something was going to happen between us, so I put that transfer request in, they refused it, it all went up in the air and in the end I was in touch with Chelsea.

“It would have been a big mistake for me to leave at that stage with everything that happened with me at Arsenal. I ended up winning the league, got the top goal-scorer in Arsenal’s history before, obviously, Thierry [Henry] broke it.

“It wouldn’t have been a good way to leave. I know, down the years, many people have left football clubs because they haven’t been able to get on with the manager, but I have just got to give thanks to the likes of David Dein, and the Arsenal board, at the time, who realised that, for me, [appointing Rioch] was a mistake.

“It wasn’t working out. I was very vocal in that and a lot of the other players were vocal when it suited them. I didn’t mind letting him know what I felt and in the end he went.”

What a decision that turned out to be with Wright being amongst our best players the following season, earning a spot in the PFA team of the Year, before playing a key role in winning the double in the 97-98 season.

Things could have been so different, but thankfully David Dein saw sense.

Could Arsenal have won the double without Wrighty? Could Wright’s exit have had bigger implications?


Tags Ian Wright


  1. Isn’t the real truth that Rioch was from a different era of manager that even in 1965 was already passe. I was almost dismayed at the stupidity of appointing himand expressed my acute anger and frustration to all my Arsenal friends who would listen at the time of his appointment. It was a bad mistake to appoint him , pure and simple and arose because the other board members were dinosaurs and would not accede to Deins plan to instill Wenger that year earlier than they eventually did. That board remained dinosaurs, though to be fair and unlike BOTH of Kroenkes family, ALL were real Gooners, but just stupid ones.

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