Richard Wright

Richard Wright is an English goalkeeper who was born in Ipswich on 5th November 1977. Wright began his career at Ipswich in 1995. He made his Premiership debut for the already relegated Tractor Boys on 6th May 1995 at just 17 years of age. He also started Town's final two matches of the season against Everton and Sheffield Wednesday.

Wright played in half of Ipswich's matches in 1995/96 as George Burley's men narrowly missed out on a play-off place. The following season he firmly established himself as number one keeper at Portman Road, replacing Canadian Craig Forrest. Wright had a reputation as one of the brightest young talents in football, and was rewarded with a first call up to the England U21 squad in 1997. Many expected the youngster to go on and become England's number one keeper for many years to come.

Wright helped Ipswich to four consecutive play-off finishes. In 2000, the club finally won promotion to the Premiership after a 4-2 Wembley win over Barnsley. Wright was heavily involved in that match, scoring an unfortunate own goal, but he also saved a Darren Barnard penalty later in the game. Less than a week later Wright won his first full international cap for England in a 2-1 victory over Malta on 3rd June 2000. Just like in the play-off final five days earlier, Wright scored an own goal, but saved another penalty late in the game.

Wright proved he had what it took in the Premiership in 2000/01, helping Ipswich to a 5th place finish after a terrific season. In July 2001 Arsenal signed Wright for an undisclosed fee (believed to be around £6,000,000). The former Ipswich keeper played second fiddle to veteran David Seaman at first, but was expected to be his long term successor after penning a five year deal at Highbury. Wright made his Gunners debut on 29th September 2001 in a 2-0 win at Derby. He received more opportunities than expected in his first season with Arsene Wenger's side when Seaman missed months through injury. Wright hadn't quite lived up to expectations though, and made some mistakes. He punched the ball into his own net in a Champions League match with Deportivo. Wenger lost so much confidence in Wright that at one point he fell down to third choice in the pecking order behind Stuart Taylor. He did however pick up a Premiership winners medal at the end of the campaign. Wright also contributed to Arsenal's 2002 FA Cup triumph, playing in most matches in the build up to the final with Chelsea (which he missed).

Wright signed for Everton in the summer of 2002. He made his debut for The Toffees on 17th August in a 2-2 draw with Spurs. Wright performed reasonably well in his first season at Goodison Park, starting 37 matches. The former Ipswich man went off injured on 13th September 2003 in a draw with Newcastle, in what turned out to be his last start of the campaign. The man who replaced him that day, Nigel Martyn impressed in Wright's absence, and kept his number one spot even after Richard returned to fitness. Wright had a brief run in the Everton starting eleven when Martyn was injured in January 2005. When the former Leeds man returned however, Wright would have to wait until the end of the year before he received another chance from David Moyes. He foolishly injured himself in the warm up of an FA Cup match at Chelsea on 8th February 2006, after training in an area that was signposted as not safe to play in. Wright had a miserable last season at Everton in 2006/07, with just two appearances. He was released from the club in May 2007.

Wright signed for West Ham in July 2007 as understudy to Robert Green. The only playing time he received for the Hammers that season came in three Carling Cup ties. He made his debut at Bristol Rovers on 28th August 2007. On March 20th 2008 Wright signed with Southampton on loan until the end of the campaign following injuries to Saints keepers Kelvin Davis and Bartosz Bialkowski. He made his debut for Nigel Pearson's men on 22nd March 2008, and kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Coventry. Wright kept his place in the team even when Davis was fully recovered from his injury, and played a key role in keeping Saints in the division with some superb displays. It's no exaggeration to suggest that the club would have easily gone down had it not been for Wright.

On July 21st 2008 Wright rejoined his first club Ipswich on a two year contract. He was an ever present in his first campaign back at Portman Road, and performed well enough to pick up player's player of the season award as well as fans player of the season. 2009/10 was less successful for Wright, who missed four months after a knee injury. The former Arsenal stopper also reportedly fell out with Town boss Roy Keane. He was released from the club in June 2010.

On 21st September 2010 Wright signed a four month deal with Sheffield United, which was later extended until the end of the season. He spent most of the campaign warming the bench. He made his debut for the club on 11th December 2010 in a 1-0 defeat at Barnsley. His only other appearance for The Blades came on New Year's Day 2011 at Burnley. On 7th April 2011 Wright had his contract terminated by mutual consent.