Club legend Ian Wright OBE has received the Freedom of the City of London at Guildhall today, recognised for his services to sport and the city.
Wright was nominated for the prestigious honour by the City of London Corporation's Policy Chairman, Chris Hayward, and its Deputy Policy Chairman, Keith Bottomley.
From balancing Sunday league football with work as a plasterer, Wright joined us from Crystal Palace in 1991 for £2.5 million - a club record fee at the time - and went on to a legendary career in the red and white.
Across his seven years in north London, Wright scored 185 goals and remained our leading goalscorer until Thierry Henry broke the record in 2005.
Since retiring from football in 2000, Wright has firmly established himself as one of the most respected and knowledgeable football pundits in the UK.
A passionate advocate of women's football, he also champions equal access for girls in schools, supported the government review of women's football, led by former Gunner Karen Carney. During the UEFA Women's Euro 2022, he delivered a powerful speech for "girls to be allowed to play football, just like boys", making sure that there was a legacy to the top-level tournament.
Earlier this year, he was also awarded an OBE for his services to football and charity work.
"I only ever wanted to be a professional footballer,” said Wright. “Being recognised for anything else is really strange, even now, 23 years after I retired.
“I'm humbled to be getting the Freedom of the City of London award. London is a city I love and one that I'm proud to represent.
"Thank you to all the people who have believed in me along the way. My family, my team, Steve Coppell, Mr Dein, George Graham, Arsene Wenger, Glenn Hoddle, David Rocastle, and of course, Mr Pigden. I hope that I can pass on some of their wisdom to all the young people I meet and work with."
City of London Corporation Policy Chairman, Chris Hayward, said: "Ian is a legend of the game, and it gives us great pleasure to recognise his unique sporting achievements with this special award.
“He continues to be admired and respected well beyond his old stomping ground around Arsenal and has made a huge contribution to football and the capital."
City of London Corporation Deputy Policy Chairman, Keith Bottomley said: “We are delighted that lan has been awarded the Freedom of the City - it is richly deserved and recognises his outstanding contributions to sport and London. He is an inspiration to millions and an exceptional role model for young people."
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