Goalkeeper's career never flourished
9 September ~ Around a decade ago, the prospect of Richard Wright signing for the Premier League champions at an age widely considered a goalkeeper's peak would have seemed as predictable as a wave hitting a shore. After his transfer to Arsenal in 2001, having been an integral part of the Ipswich team that finished fifth in the Premier League as well as being an England squad regular, Wright was on course to fulfil his potential and become David Seaman's long-term successor for club and country. Now 34, his hopes of first-team football are reliant on injury to Manchester City's Joe Hart and Costel Pantilimon.
When considering the conceivability of the former to have once admired Wright's status, the true level of his underachievement becomes clear.
Wright was long seen as England's next number one – an apparently cursed title later given to Chris Kirkland, Scott Carson and Ben Foster – but due to the combination of a loss of form, confidence, fitness and latterly ambition, he has never really recovered from first leaving Ipswich.
An inability to become Arsenal's first choice didn't need to be career ending. It is considerably more damning that he failed to push on at Everton under David Moyes, who has never been in a position to take big gambles in the transfer market and who has regularly profited from improving undervalued players.
Wright left for West Ham in 2007 to become the understudy to Robert Green – who was no one's next England number one – and thereafter traipsed and travelled as one of the Football League’s necessary journeymen.
Instead of adding to his two international caps at a time when the unproven David Stockdale, Scott Loach and Joe Lewis have been needed in squads, Wright has unsuccessfully represented Sheffield United, made two returns to Ipswich and spent five days with Preston North End before leaving because of homesickness. He missed a bracket of players that features Seaman, Peter Shilton and Gordon Banks, and joined one that includes Gary Walsh, Craig Forrest and Tony Caig.
An unfortunately incident in which he twisted an ankle after tripping over a sign warning of the dangers of warming up in a particular goalmouth has come to define him and serve as a microcosm of his career. A chance to reclaim his Everton place was gone, time on the sidelines would follow, and his professional equilibrium consequently permanently lost.
Wright, it seems, will never recover from the transfer of 11 years ago. A career full of promise has been lost and City’s financially prudent yet unlikely move to make him third choice is all that remains to underline his last use. Declan Warrington