Charismatic as always, Ian Wright seemed to enjoy talking about The Arsenal with me as much as I enjoyed listening to him.

Looking forward to #OneMoreGame, Wright won’t play at The Emirates again, and has donned an Arsenal shirt on the pitch for the last time.

With Ian Wright and fellow DailyCannon write Paul Williams at Ball Street's #OneMoreGame media day.
Fellow DailyCannon writer Paul Williams and I met Arsenal legend Ian Wright at Ball Street’s #OneMoreGame media day.

“I’m gonna make sure the last time I play football will be at Wembley. You know, people saying ‘Well what if they ask you to play at the Emirates?’ I’m not gonna be able to do it because I’m gonna have to play my last game at Wembley.

“It’s the last game I’m gonna play, ever.”

A sad thought for Arsenal fans everywhere. No more farewell cameos?

“No more testimonials!”

Lee Dixon famously thanked Ian Wright for inviting him to his own testimonial, such was the reception Wrighty received at Highbury. It was an opportunity for Ian Wright to say goodbye to the fans who had adored him, and who he has adored ever since he signed for Arsenal back in 1991.

“Unbelievable. That was unbelievable, because remember I left and never had a chance to say anything, say goodbye to the Arsenal fans, which was always really quite a traumatic thing for me the more I thought about it. And to come back like that. The reception was just ridiculously brilliant.

“Like Dicko said it felt like it was my testimonial and just the love the Arsenal fans showed, you can’t forget that.”

Likewise, Wrighty’s appearance overshadowed the return of many other Arsenal stars at Dennis Bergkamp’s farewell game at Emirates Stadium. And the second top goalscorer in our history wants us to know how much it all means to him.

“That’s why the Arsenal fans have got to understand, their love is reciprocated. I remember telling people about being away from home getting kicked, getting booed by the home fans, and then the away fans get you through it.”

Did our travelling support make it all worth it? Of course they did.

“You score, celebrate with them and it’s like ‘us’. We’re all there together. This is why when they hear me speak about Arsenal very passionately because I love it.”


The club is very much a part of Wright’s heart now, like any other fan.

“I just want the very very best for Arsenal simply because I believe that is what they are. The best.”

And as comes with the territory, he isn’t too fond of our North London neighbours.

“I remember David Rocastle – my dear friend, rest in peace – he said, ‘Ian, if you can score against Tottenham in your first game (against them). If you can score against Tottenhma, that is it. You’re in for life.’ And I did.”

Not only once either, six of Wrighty’s 185 Arsenal goals came in North London Derbies.

“To score in the last minute. At White Hart Lane. To win the game. Is one of the moments that you know, that’s a special moment. I loved that. Those are the ones.”

Two of those came in Wrighty’s first year in North London, scoring in both fixtures in the 1991-92 season. Once he knew Arsenal were in for him, he was never going anywhere else.

“It happened so quickly. Then you hear stories that Steve Coppell (then Crystal Palace manager) already done a deal with Arsenal the year before or something like that.

“There was talk about Alex Ferguson and me maybe going there, a little thing. 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.”

The rise to prominence since enjoyed by Manchester United was already coming with the 1990 FA Cup win, while Liverpool were by far the most successful club in England at the time.

“Once Arsenal came that was it for me, because David Rocastle was there. So it was not even a case of anything could have made me turn my head. Nothing could have turned my head from Arsenal.”

And that love has become a family affair. Shaun Wright-Phillips, son of the Arsenal legend, was often linked with a move to Highbury in the mid-2000s.

“It was a bit unfair on Shaun because the Chelsea deal was done, Arsenal came in at about £12M and he ended up going for £21M – about £10M (miles) too much. People say why didn’t I let him go to Arsenal! We were trying. There’s nothing more I could have done.”

Had everything gone to plan, another member of the family would have had the opportunity to become a star at Arsenal.

“I remember the time at Highbury when we drew 1-1 with Man City and he (Shaun) scored a fantastic goal. I went down, I saw Steve Bould and the boss, and I let them know – because he is an Arsenal fan – ‘He’s coming to the end of his contract the season after, and if Arsenal wanted to, he’d love to play for Arsenal.’”

Wrighty’s other son, Bradley, scored 27 goals in 32 games for New York Red Bulls last season – playing alongside Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. Just like the rest of us, Wrighty wishes he could’ve lined up next to the only man with more goals for the Gunners.

“Bradley playing with Thierry and doing so well felt like I was doing it. I was living my dream of me and Thierry playing together through my son. That was pretty cool.”

Other than not being able to play next to Thierry Henry, are there any other regrets?

“It’s got to be the record against Tottenham.”

If only his 176th Arsenal goal was netted against Spurs, that would have been the cherry on top of an incredible Arsenal legacy.

“My biggest regret is leaving Arsenal. I’ve got a lot of respect for the clubs I went to afterwards but my heart and my passion had gone, it had left me.

“I scored goals at other places but I realised when you leave Arsenal – and everyone says how much they love it, everyone who has played for the club ends up being massive fans of the club – it’s a great football club. There are great people there.”

It’s hard to think that Ian Wright could ever have anything but complete passion for the game, but Arsenal is his home. So much so that football wasn’t the same elsewhere.

I’ve gone on record as saying that when I left Arsenal I maybe stopped playing anyway.”

What was made abundantly clear was that Wrighty wants us to know he loves us every bit as much as we love him.

Ian Wright is a massive Gooner, just like the rest of us.


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

The game will take place at Wembley, which has been arranged by Vauxhall England.

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]