Many professional soccer players are recruited at an early age into famous - or not so famous – club teams to spend their teens in youth camps. While living the dream honing their football skills 24/7, their ultimate goal is to someday sign a big contract and become a professional football player.
But given only a few are chosen, most kids who dream of becoming a soccer superstar eventually have to put that dream aside. The dreamers from poor backgrounds, with no access to school programs or supportive parents are even less likely to succeed. Ian Wright’s circumstances were even more dire, yet he overcame those odds to become a football legend in England. His rare and touching story should be an inspiration to all.
He was raised in a housing project in northeast London by his alcoholic Jamaican-born mother and abusive step-father. He had a very difficult upbringing and lived most of his life without affection, encouragement, support or love. But one thing kept him going and that was football.
He claimed his only joy in life was to watch and play the sport. Somehow that was enough. That love drove him to try again and again to become a professional footballer. He refused to give in to his sourroundings and circumstances. Ultimately, with the help of two important people in his life, he finally broke into the world of professional football.
In 1985, a scout gave Wright an opportunity to try out for London’s Crystal Palace at the age of 22. That year he signed his first professional contract and became the team’s second highest goal scorer. Wright hit his stride in his second year with the club, scoring 24 goals in regular season play.
After six successful years with Palace, Ian signed with Premier League team Arsenal at the age of 28. With his new team, he helped win the Premier League title, both major domestic trophies and the European Cup Winners Cup. In his first year with the club, he scored a hat-trick in his first league appearance and went on to win the Golden Boot with 29 league goals. As a Gunner, he was the top scorer six seasons in a row of seven with the club. Over the course of his career, he was capped 33 times for England and finally retired at the age of 37.
Ian Wright is an Arsenal legend and a legend in his own “wright”. There’s a fantastic video below showing some highlights from his amazing career. He recently sat down to openly discuss his life as part of a bio-documentary series called “Nothing to Something” produced by Marcel Beckford. The moving film is 27 minutes long and I’ve included it as well as the trailer below. You will not regret spending 27 minutes watching this fascinating and inspiring man recount his life and describe the obstacles he overcame to make his dream come true. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Here’s the trailer:
Here’s a highlight of some of Ian Wright’s best work:
Here’s his bio-documentary and I guarantee it’s worth every minute you will spend watching it!