The immortal Ian Wright is preparing for One More Game and so we went off to have a chat with him about this event, his career, his sons and the evident love he has for the Arsenal.

Conversation turned eventually to just how Wrighty guaranteed his place in the hearts and minds of Arsenal fans across the world- as if 24 goals in his first 30 league matches for us wasn’t enough.

You may not be surprised to hear that it was yet another Arsenal legend, the late, great, David Rocastle who helped his friend along the way,

“I remember David Rocastle, my dear friend rest in peace, he said ‘Ian if you can score against Tottenham in your first game… that is it, you’re in for life’.'”

You may, or may not remember this but Wrighty did indeed score against Tottenham in his first game against them, a televised encounter in December 1991.

Not only that, but it was the opening goal in a 2-0 win.

Later that season, he would go on to break Spurs hearts again with an 89th minute equaliser at the Lane.

Of course, breaking Spurs hearts became a bit of a habit for the effervescent south Londoner. Indeed, he would repeat his last minute trick, this time with a headed winner just over a year later, at the beginning of the 93-94 season. A goal which, as far as Wrighty was concerned, was his favourite goal against the enemy. I can’t argue with his assessment, nor would I want to.

Returning, though, to his great mate David Rocastle, Wrighty pinpointed his relationship with our beloved number 7 as the key factor in his signing for Arsenal. We asked him whether there was any interest from any other clubs, to which he replied,

“Even Kenny Dalglish (then Liverpool manager) – when I was playing for Palace there was talk about Kenny Dalglish quite liking me and stuff like that. Because I work with Kelly (Kenny’s daughter), she was saying that as well, but once Arsenal came it wasn’t like ‘Oh, Chelsea have come in’ or this, it wasn’t like that. Once Arsenal came that was it for me, because David Rocastle was there.

“So nothing could have made me turn my head. Nothing could have turned my head from Arsenal.”

It seemed like a sensible time to ask Wrighty whether there was a better feeling in the world than playing for Arsenal, with David Rocastle.

Our former striker’s response was as emphatic as his finishing used to be,

“Absolutely not.

“The greatest 90 minutes of my whole life was my league debut against Southampton.

“Two Brockley boys who grew up on the same estate, we beat Southampton I think 4-0, David scored the first and I scored a hat-trick.

“That was the greatest 90 minutes of my life.”

Looking into Ian Wright’s eyes – he was almost as close to me as I am to the laptop I now type this on – there could be no doubting the sincerity of this claim.

This is a man who scored goal after goal, winning all there was to win, for Arsenal, and yet he says that a league game away at Southampton was the greatest 90 minutes of his life.

I think that gives you some idea of the depth of feeling he still holds for David Rocastle.

Then again, maybe there’s also something there about a man who came into the professional game so late, he felt he had it all to prove.

Arriving at Arsenal, the league champions at the time, and scoring a hat-trick on your debut? I don’t think debuts come much better than that, I can’t remember one before or since.

No wonder that, nearly twenty five years on, this is the one game that stands out.


Ian Wright was talking at Ball Street’s media day for #OneMoreGame

Please subscribe to Ball Street’s YouTube channel to follow Wrighty’s journey to #OneMoreGame –

[Quotes from this interview may be used as long as full credit is given to and this article is linked]

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