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15th Sep 2016

Smoking weed nearly ended Ian Wright’s career before it began

Stopped rolling, kept scoring

Tom Victor

Despite taking an unconventional route to the top, Ian Wright achieved a lot in his career.

The London-born ex-footballer waited until well beyond his 20th birthday to make his professional debut, but still racked up more than 250 career goals (including a then-record 185 for Arsenal).

But his career was almost over before it begun, with the former England international revealing that only a stroke of luck stood between him and a failed drug test early in his career.

Wright hadn’t been taking any performance-enhancing substances, but admits his early-career habit of preferring weed to alcohol almost landed him in a lot of trouble, as he has explained in an anecdote from his early twenties when he was just beginning to establish himself with Crystal Palace.

Ian WrightSteve Morton/Allsport

“We beat WBA 4-1 that Saturday, the whole team came into the dressing room still excited and then the drug testers arrived,’ Wright writes in his column for The Sun.

“It’s the first time I’d ever seen them and I panicked inside – I’ve been smoking cannabis, less than 24 hours earlier, and if that test comes back positive that’s it. It is literally all over for me.

“I’m practically paralysed while trying to act unconcerned. The guy says: ‘Drug test, number nine.’ Mark Bright.

“I’m sure he’s going to call my number next, number ten. He calls, ‘Drug test, number 11.’ Phil Barber.”

Wright, who promised himself not long after that to never touch marijuana again, suggests someone was ‘looking out for’ him by ensuring he wouldn’t face the drug testers on that day.

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