Book of the week: Striker fired by fierce sense of persecution

Mr Wright

by Ian Wright

(Harper Collins, pounds 14.99)

Whatever it was that Peter Schmeichel did or did not say to Ian Wright at Old Trafford, the Arsenal striker makes it abundantly clear in his autobiography that when it comes to verbal abuse he is in the international class himself.

"I'll try to wind myself up, to get myself going," he writes. "But even then I'll go too far."

By way of example, Wright cites a game against Hartlepool a few years ago, when he was involved in a running war of words with his marker. It culminated in Wright turning on his man and saying, "Piss off, I don't talk to Third Division players."

In relaying this incident Wright displays the same ambivalent candour that characterises the book. Much is recalled that is unflattering to its subject, and by the standards of ghosted football autobiography there is an above average dose of self-criticism. Yet the overriding theme is one of justification. "Sometimes I just can't help myself," he says to conclude the Third Division player episode. "I just hope people don't always think too badly of me."

From it Wright emerges as likeable, loyal and honest, if blessed with a somewhat egocentric view of right and wrong. He has been in trouble ever since he played for Gordon Brock Junior School as an eight-year-old, and has used a continuing, jaunty sense of persecution as his motivating force ever since.

Few subjects are ducked, certainly not the five days he spent in prison in his teens, the tangled private life (though this book was written before his latest encounter with the tabloids), or the bust-ups with Bruce Rioch last season.

George Graham emerges as a mentor and valued friend, with Wright reluctant to judge his former boss. How many of us would turn down 200 grand in pounds 50 notes, Wright asks, before typically declaring his admiration for those who would.

Perhaps most revealing is the description of Wright's early days at Crystal Palace, when he, Andy Gray and Tony Finnigan were trying to break into a first team peopled by seasoned pros like Jim Cannon and George Wood. Wright paints a vivid picture of a club divided down the middle, ostensibly by age but also by race - most of the aspiring youngsters were black. "Cannon opened my eyes to the fact that, even within a team, the only time you're truly together is on a Saturday for 90 minutes."

The chapter on racism suggests though progress has been made, abuse is far from a thing of the past. Wright confesses to racism himself, by once regarding Viv Anderson as a "coconut" - brown on the outside, white on the inside - because he did not appear to do enough to champion the cause of black players. The two have long since been reconciled and are friends. It would be nice if the same can one day be said of Wright and Schmeichel.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum