Five minutes with Ian Wright MBE
As a former England star, football icon Ian Wright MBE has always known the importance of keeping his eye on the ball. Ian enjoyed a successful playing career with Crystal Palace and Arsenal – amongst others – and earned 33 national team caps along the way. He retired in 2000, and now works as a studio pundit and commentator.
This year, Ian is backing Surrey FA sponsors Specsavers in their ‘Don’t Lose The Picture’ campaign, which is all about encouraging people to have regular eye tests to make sure their sight stays healthy. We sat down with Ian to ask him about his career, and why he – as a glasses wearer himself – was so keen to work with Specsavers.
How did you get into football?
By chance! I always wanted to be a footballer from the time when I started playing when I was eight.
But all the trials I attended didn’t work out. I don’t know what it was, whether I was too small or just wasn’t good enough at the time. It was very disappointing. I was 22 when I finally got signed. I never stopped playing football but I ended up thinking I wasn’t good enough to be a professional because I had been refused so many times.
What was your proudest moment?
Playing for England. The adrenaline rush of scoring a goal, an unbelievable goal, or a goal for England is unreal. But also seeing my Crystal Palace boots and shin pads lined up in the changing room for the first time was a special moment.
What would your advice be to young people who want to be successful in football, or any other sport?
It’s about believing in yourself. I didn’t stop playing. You have to believe in yourself because there’s so many people that will criticise and try and make you feel bad and tell you you’re not good enough. You have to understand that’s their opinion and they’re entitled to it. The main thing is, is being able to look in the mirror and not accepting it yourself. Don’t accept failure for yourself.
Why were you so keen to work with Specsavers on this campaign?
I have been wearing glasses since I turned 40, when I noticed my eyesight going. I now wear glasses to express myself, but I couldn’t do my pundit job without them as I couldn’t see well enough. And there is a history of glaucoma in my family, so I have to have regular eye health checks and encourage everyone to check their eyes. The more we can get people talking about good eye health and having regular checks the better – and that includes footballers at every level.
To find out more about the ‘Don’t Lose The Picture’ campaign click here.
Ian Wright teamed up with Specsavers during National Eye Health Week (September 23-20) to encourage everyone to have regular eye tests to help protect their health. Visit the Specsavers website to book a sight test online.