We all love a feel-good story and one of the very best examples involves Ian Wright.
Many years ago, the Arsenal legend, who netted an incredible 185 goals in 288 games for the club, was being filmed at Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium for ITV 4’s ‘Real Life’ programme.
And there was a huge surprise in store when Wright was reunited with Sydney Pigden, a teacher at the primary school Wright attended in Brockley, south East London.
Wright, Arsenal’s talisman at the time, had not seen Mr Pigden for about “23, 24 years” and speaking before the surprise, the teacher said he expected Wright to be of the opinion that his former tutor had passed away.
At first his facial expression was one of complete shock and disbelief, before his face lit up. He immediately took off his flat cap and uttered the words “You’re alive!” as he shook his former teacher’s hand. So much respect.
The former Crystal Palace striker was visibly emotional, shedding a few tears after being reunited with one of the first people to guide him in his quest to become a professional footballer.
Speaking in an interview following on from the moment, Wright said Mr Pidgen was “so supportive all the time” and that he was “kind of like his special guy”.
Wright dedicated his 2016 autobiography “A Life in Football” to Mr Pigden, who sadly passed away aged 95 in 2018. He will forever remain indebted to him for believing in him.
“He had a massive impact on me,” Wright is quoted as saying in an interview with The42.
“He was a guiding light all the way through my career, as people saw in the video when I was reunited with him. I dedicated my book to him and I think that was the least I could do for somebody that literally turned my life around, in respect to teaching me how to be a decent human being.”
The 56-year old was a late bloomer in footballing terms, playing at Sunday League and semi-pro level before eventually signing his first professional contract with Palace just before his 22nd birthday
Wright, who had stints with West Ham United, Celtic and Burnley in the latter stages of his career before retiring, has become a familiar face/voice on our TV screens and radios, notably providing punditry for the likes of BBC, BT Sport, ITV and Sky Sports.