Ian Edward Wright, one of the best known black football player in Britain was born on 3rd November, 1963 in Woolwich, London. He developed a passion for football and played quite impressively for his school and the local youth teams, but was unable to attract interest from clubs as he was unsuccessful in trials with Brighton and Southend.
After being disillusioned of becoming a professional footballer, he took up a full-time job as a plasterer in London and played at weekends as an amateur for the 10 Em Bee Club. His talents were recognized by a Crystal Palace scout named Peter Prentice while playing for Dulwich Hamlet and was offered for a trial at Selhurst Park. Ian impressed the manager, Steve Coppell and signed for professional football in August 1985.
He became a regular in the Palace first team and finished second top scorer with 9 goals in his first season. Ian made a formidable pair with Mark Bright to take his club to the top. In the 1987-88 season, he became Palace’s top scorer with 23 league goals, followed with 33 in the promotion season and was voted the club’s player of the year. The next season saw him reach a hundred goals for Crystal Palace, which went on to win the Zenith Data Systems Cup at Wembley. He was handed his England debut by manager Graham Taylor in February 1991.
By scoring a hat-trick in just eighteen minutes in Palace’s penultimate game of the 1990-91 season, he became renowned for his deadly striking ability. Scoring 117 goals in 253 starts and 24 substitute appearances over six seasons for the Eagles in all competitions, he became the club’s record post-war goal-scorer and third on the all-time list. He was also voted into their Centenary XI and named their “Player of the Century” in 2005. In September 1991, Ian signed for Arsenal for 2.5m pounds, a club record at that time. In 1992, he ended the season as top English goal scorer beating Gary Linekar by one goal. He was awarded the Golden Boot in 1992 after scoring 31 goals in all competitions for Palace and Arsenal. He became the quickest Arsenal player to score 100 goals for the club beating Ted Drake’s 40 year record in 1993.
He won the FA Cup and League Cup with Arsenal and also got married to Debbie Martin. Despite his age, he kept on scoring regularly and became the second highest Premier League scorer in 1996-97 with 23 goals. He broke Cliff Bastin’s Arsenal goalscoring record with a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers in 1997. In 1998, he joined West Ham United for half a million pounds, but could not achieve the same as in Arsenal.
After retiring, he appeared as a pundit on BBC Sport’s International Match of the Day and for the 2002, 2006 World Cups and Euro 2004. On 15th July 2008, he finished 4th in 50 Greatest Gunners listed on the Arsenal website. He was awarded the MBE for his relentless services to football.