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I Love Ian Wright

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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.

Dennis Nicolaas Bergkamp was born on 10th May, 1969 at Amsterdam, Holland. He was introduced to football by his father, a lifelong admirer of English football who took him to watch games at Highbury and White Hart Lane. It is here that Bergkamp admired the skills of Glenn Hoddle, in particular and dreamt of playing professional football. He joined Ajax at 12 and was provided his professional debut by Coach Johan Cruyff in 1986 against Roda JC. He became a regular for Ajax in the following season and won the Dutch league in 1990, the UEFA Cup in 1992 and the KNVB Cup in 1993. He was top scorer in the Eredivisie and was voted Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1992 and 1993. By signing for 12M pounds, with Internazionale in 1993, he became the second most expensive player in the world at that time, but had an unsuccessful stint scoring just 11 times in 50 appearances. In June 1995, after two unhappy seasons, he was signed by Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch for 7.5 million pounds. It took him seven games before managing to score his first goal for the team. He soon formed a formidable partnership with the legend Ian Wright which was one of the finest in the Premier League. With his induction to the team, he played a major role to the team’s return to success. It was under the tutelage of Wenger that Bergkamp redefined football in England’s top division in September 1996 and he was voted PFA Player of the Year. He became the first and so far the only player to have come first, second and third in Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month competition in September 1997. He helped the Netherlands to a fourth-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. He scored one of the greatest goals of all time against Argentina in that competition. He won the double again in 2002, the FA Cup in 2003 and the Premier League for a third time in 2004. On 16th April 2006, the home match against West Bromwich Albion, the Arsenal supporters dedicated the “Supporter’s Day” match theme to Dennis Bergkamp Day” as a gesture of appreciation for his long and distinguished service. He played most of his best games as a support striker at Arsenal. His tactical awareness and deft passes made him one of the greatest performers of all times. Pele selected him as one of the FIFA 100 greatest living players is regarded as one of the Premier League’s greatest players. He was inducted into the FIFA Hall of Fame in 2007, the first and the only Dutch player ever to receive the honour. He took the third spot in the FIFA World Player of the Year award twice only behind Zidane and Ronaldo each time. He has been awarded many nicknames by his supporters and well wishers like Dennis the Menace, The Iceman, God, The Non-flying Dutchman, Bergy. He is married to Henrita Ruizendaal and has a daughter and a son.

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