Arsenal’s greatest goal-scorer turned media personality. Assertive, comical and cheeky with a passion for the beautiful game.
Ian Wright played 581 league games, scoring 387 goals for seven clubs in Scotland and England, earning 33 caps for the English national team.
After retiring from the game he has been active in the media, usually in football related TV and radio shows.
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.
The next season he gained full international honours, and reached a hundred goals for Crystal Palace. He scored twice as Palace beat Everton to win the Zenith Data Systems Cup at Wembley. Wright became renowned for his deadly striking ability, as shown when he scored a hat-trick in just eighteen minutes in Palace’s penultimate game of the 1990–91 season away to Wimbledon.
Ian scored on his debut for the Gunners 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.
Wright went on to be the club’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.
By the time Arsène Wenger had arrived at Arsenal in September 1996, Wright 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 goalscoring record with a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderer.
Wright began his television career as a guest host on Top of the Pops, and, in 2008, he became one of the presenters of the new series of the popular game show Gladiators.
He has also appeared as a pundit on BBC Sport’s International Match of the Day and has been a pundit for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and Euro 2004.
During his playing career, Ian was sponsored by the American sportswear company Nike, and appeared in Nike commercials. In 1996 he starred in a Nike commercial titled “Good vs Evil” in a gladiatorial game set in a Roman amphitheatre. Appearing alongside football players from around the world, including Ronaldo, Eric Cantona, Luís Figo, Patrick Kluivert, Paolo Maldini and Jorge Campos, they defend “the beautiful game” against a team of demonic warriors, which culminates with Cantona striking the ball and destroying evil.
Ian Wright also starred in an advertisement for the Wii console where he is playing Mario Strikers Charged and Wii Sports with his son Shaun.