Charlton, Millwall and Brighton all rejected me. I honestly didn’t know what was going wrong. I was working hard and playing well, but I just couldn’t get a break, until Crystal Palace.
At first, I felt like an outsider. But Steve Coppell’s support led me to my biggest moment in football, scoring in the FA Cup final. We ended up with a draw and we lost the replay, but I’ll never forget the adrenaline rush. And you might not believe it, but no moment on the pitch has ever quite matched up.
Having said that, sitting down and reading through my stats does put a smile on my face.
In my career, I played 581 league games, scored 387 goals for seven clubs in England and Scotland and earned 33 caps for England. I’m incredibly grateful to the fans at West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic and Burnley for making me feel so welcome. My spells at those clubs were short, but they rounded out my career, so they’ll forever be in my heart.
Of course, I’m best known for being an Arsenal FC player. I made 288 appearances and scored 185 goals in my eight years at Highbury. I love that club. I was part of a dream team that won the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup, League Cup and the Premier League Golden Boot.
Now, I’m humbled to be talking about the beautiful game in front of millions of football fans across the world. Being a football pundit is a dream come true. And it’s made even better because my boys are still flying the family flag. My eldest son, Shaun Wright-Phillips played for Chelsea, Manchester City and England. My second son, Bradley, plays for the New York Red Bulls and holds the record for the fastest player in Major League Soccer history to reach 100 goals. And now, my grandson Dimargio, is training with the Manchester City first team.
I could moan about a tough start, but look where I am now…