Ian Wright explains reasons behind Match of the Day exit

Ian Wright stepped down after 27 years on the programme at the end of the season

Sonia Twigg
Wednesday 22 May 2024 14:06
Ian Wright cries as he presents last Match of the Day after 25 years

Ian Wright explains he left Match of the Day to “step back” from the show, following an emotional send-off in the latest episode at the end of the 2023-24 season on Sunday.

Having already announced that he would leave at the end of the season in December, Wright has had a long history with the BBC flagship programme.

He made his debut on the show as a player in 1997, but went on to become a regular pundit in 2002 and has been held in a great esteem since.

Wright always demonstrated a love for the game with humour and he delivered observations with a great insight but was always a likeable figure on the sofa, and his final send-off almost left Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer in tears.

Speaking on The Overlap’s Stick to Football podcast, Wright said: “It was quite emotional. I didn’t realise it was going to hit me like it did, but with the day and Arsenal losing, [Manchester] City scoring so early – it dampened the day a bit.

“As the day went on and you got into the studio, you’re saying bye all day to people you’ve seen for many years – runners who are now producers and people in the gallery. So, it was all building, I got more and more emotional. While I was doing the show, you’re in show mode, then the grandkids came on and that finished me.

“All my grandkids are Manchester City fans, my granddaughter was trolling me, she was saying, ‘Well done granddad, but City are the best.’”

Wright explained his reasons for leaving the programme: “It’s time. I had a dear friend who said that sometimes you’ve got to know when to step back, change, rest, have a break, and say no – it’s just time.

Ian Wright left Match of the Day at the end of the season (The FA via Getty Images)

“The way I am now, because I have to get back to London [after filming] it’s like 3.30am in the morning – it’s a long day. I leave at 8am in the morning and get back at 12am [midnight].

“I don’t want to stay over in Manchester. I used to but there are personal reasons why I always want to get back home [after filming]. Especially, when you’re on Match of the Day, you’re live and I’ve had a massive problem before with people knowing where you are, so I always want to get back home to the Missus and the girls.

“It just takes me two to three days after that to get ready and there are other things I’m doing which I just haven’t got the energy for sometimes.

“I’m getting older, I just want to make sure I use the time well and efficiently for myself and at the moment, Match of the Day is the one that if something had to go, it had to be that.”

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