On a normal Thursday morning, the best I can hope for is to get through work unscathed and make it through Thursday night’s weekly seven-a-side in one piece.

I say that’s the best I can hope for because my goalscoring days seem to be way behind me,  one – deflected – goal in nine months of football is a pretty poor return. I think I might have to concede that I’m not any good at football anymore. Or, better put, even more useless than I already was.

I digress.

This Thursday morning was not a normal Thursday morning.

I had the day off work as both myself and Lewis Ambrose were being dispatched to meet an Arsenal legend.

That in itself is not just an exciting prospect, but also an intimidating one.

When you factor in the fact that the man we were meeting is not just an Arsenal legend, but my favourite Arsenal player ever- so my favourite player ever – the excitement and slight sense of intimidation is doubled.

I say intimidation, but I think that’s probably overstating it. It was more a feeling of not wanting to make a wally of myself.

Besides, despite the old adage that you should never meet your heroes, I have met some of my heroes before and managed not to make an idiot of myself. I met Tricky in 2001, who was then my musical hero – at least for as long as he took to stink out the Manchester Metropolitan University Student Union – and he was lovely.

That was a bit of a surprise.

Ten years ago, I did a Legends tour with Bob Wilson and he was possibly the nicest man I’ve ever met in my life.

Could Ian Wright be any different?

All these questions and more were swirling through my mind as I headed up to Victoria on Thursday morning. I met up with Lewis at McDonalds and we found our way to Ball Street’s offices where we were escorted up to the boardroom to wait for the great man.

I should say at this point that the reason we were there was ostensibly to talk about One More Game. In case you don’t know what this is, Wrighty is organising one last game of football, as he told us, his last game of football ‘ever‘ and it’s going to be at Wembley Stadium.

This is the place, after all, where he reckons it all began for him in 1990.

He is quite excited about it.

Sitting in the boardroom waiting for him to appear, did we want water? Yes, no, yes, no, yes.

My mind felt a little scrambled. I felt dehydrated and simultaneously in need of the bathroom. Lewis and I tried to control our nerves by chatting. Jenna Johnson, running PR for the event, calmed us by telling us it would be just like chatting to a mate.

And then we heard him. Chatting to the guys next door he donned an old Adidas Arsenal warm up jacket – I wonder if it was his. He certainly looked comfortable in it!

Then he walked in, the man who had scored 185 goals for Arsenal.

The man who had arrived at exactly the right time to become my Arsenal hero.

I remember thinking he looked in good shape for 51 – in fact he didn’t look noticeably different to the guy who had scored all those goals – and stood to greet him with the words, or one word, ‘Legend‘.

It seemed appropriate.

I have to say that it’s to Wrighty’s immense credit that any nervousness I felt at sitting in a room with this Arsenal great dissipated almost as soon as we began chatting and we were just three guys talking about his life, football and – obviously – Arsenal.

Just as Jenna had said, it was exactly like talking to a friend and, in a way, I guess it sums up being part of Arsenal Football Club. As Bob Wilson once said, if you’re an Arsenal man, you’re an Arsenal man.*

At least I think he said that. It sounds like something he’d say, doesn’t it?

Here we were, Lewis, Ian Wright and me, all Arsenal men and so part of something much greater than all of us.

Whilst Wrighty has, obviously, made a far greater contribution to the cause of the red and white dynamite than me or anyone reading this – other legends excepted – he is very quick to realise the part us fans play in making the club what it is.

After all, no fans and it’s empty stadiums every week.

He is also someone who realises how lucky he has been to not only enjoy a life in football, but to have represented a club he believes to be “the best” and absolutely loves.

Our time with Wrighty positively flew by and it was with a heavy heart that I asked our last question. Neither Lewis or I could have asked for a more engaging and engaged interview subject.

I wonder if he could tell it was our first one…

Whether he could or not, I was happy that we made him laugh and I was able to tell him something about his place in the history of the FA Cup that he didn’t know and was quite shocked to hear.

I hope he came out of our encounter enriched by it, I know I did.

Afterwards, Lewis and I went to a cafe and spent hours talking about our 15-20minutes with Wrighty and the club in general, swapping stories and exchanging ideas. Just another two men brought together by a love of the Arsenal and, of course, the goalscoring genius that was Ian Wright.



*Apologies if I’ve misquoted you, Bob.

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

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