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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
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

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride