Football: Wright to retire and launch film career

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The Independent Online
IAN WRIGHT, the West Ham striker, who already presents a television programme, is planning to retire from football at the end of the season and attempt to launch a film career.

After the success of his ITV chat show Friday Night's All Wright, the former Arsenal forward is set to embark on a full-time showbusiness career. He has already agreed to play a role in an action-comedy and Wright believes 15 seasons as one Britain's most entertaining footballers will stand him in good stead.

Wright said: "On the pitch, I'm an actor, playing to the crowd, a natural show-off. I like to be the centre of attention. I'm a natural performer. When the lights go on, I come to life. I love the plaudits and the headlines. The bigger the stage the better the occasion for me."

The latest Fifa world rankings were released yesterday, and England remain in 14th place. Kevin Keagan's side, who began the year in 9th, have slipped down the rankings after poor results in the Euro 2000 qualifiers.

The other home nations have also seen their rankings suffer after disappointing qualifying campaigns, with Scotland falling to 32nd. The Republic of Ireland have fallen to 38th, and Northern Ireland and Wales have dropped to 71st and 86th place respectively. Brazil still top the list above France and the Czech Republic, while Mexico have broken into the top 10, on the back of their triumph in the Confederations Cup.

Lorenzo Sanz, the Real Madrid President and chairman of the G-14 association of Europe's most powerful clubs, will meet the Fifa president Sepp Blatter in Zurich on Sunday. He is expected to demand a share of television rights and sponsorship from players' international appearances for Europe's top clubs, as well as calling for a unified international calendar.

This weekend's programme in Turkey has been postponed out of respect for the victims of the earthquake that has struck the country.

FIFA RANKINGS: 1 Brazil 842pts; 2 France 755; 3 Czech Republic 753; 4 Italy 720; 5 Germany 718; 6 Argentina 715; 7 Spain 713; 8 Croatia 712; 9 Mexico 709; 10 Romania 694. Others: 14 England 665; 32 Scotland 588; 38 Republic of Ireland 564; 71 Northern Ireland 459; 86 Wales 416.