Ian Wright: I smoked weed since I was 17, reveals former Arsenal striker

Wright quit smoking marijuana after he was nearly caught while playing for Crystal Palace

Jack Austin
Thursday 15 September 2016 08:27
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Ian Wright was in good form in the studio for ITV
Ian Wright was in good form in the studio for ITV

Former Arsenal and Crystal Palace forward Ian Wright has admitted he was a regular marijuana smoker during the start of his football career.

Wright joined the Gunners in 1991 and became their record goalscorer, scoring 185 goals for the club, before Thierry Henry broke his record.

The football pundit also played 33 times for England, scoring nine goals, but revealed his use of the drug nearly cost him his career.

The 52-year-old said he used marijuana during his time at Crystal Palace, having been around most of his life but insisted he was never addicted and quit when he was 21 – five years before he signed for Arsenal.

“I’d been smoking weed since I was about 17,” Wright said in his column in The Sun.

Ian Wright began his career at Crystal Palace

“As a kid I preferred smoking to drinking when I went out. I’d been around weed smokers from a very early age, and recently it had become something of an end-of-the-week ritual.

“It didn’t even dawn on me that I was doing anything wrong.

“We beat West Bromwich Albion 4-1 that Saturday, the whole team came into the dressing room still excited and then the drug testers arrived.

“It’s the first time I’d ever seen them and I panicked inside – I’ve been smoking cannabis, less than 24 hours earlier, and if that test comes back positive that’s it. It is literally all over for me.

“I’m practically paralysed while trying to act unconcerned. The guy says: ‘Drug test, number nine.’ Mark Bright.

“I’m sure he’s going to call my number next, number ten. He calls, ‘Drug test, number 11.’ Phil Barber.

“I sit down – more or less collapse – and think, ‘Somebody’s looking out for me, now I know it!’”

Ian Wright scored a then-record 185 goals for Arsenal

Wright, who also played for West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic and Burnley, maintains the incident was the last time he smoked and said he couldn’t imagine the response if he had thrown his career away like that.

“What hit me the most is how much I would have been letting people from my area down,” Wright continued.

“If I had got caught on that drugs test it would have been beyond them, they just wouldn’t have understood it: ‘What?! You got into Crystal Palace and you didn’t stop smoking weed?’

“From that day to this I never smoked a spliff again.”

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