In 1985 Crystal Palace signed Ian Wright. The signing came after he impressed on a two-week trial when, not long before, he was recommended to the Eagles by then Dulwich Hamlet manager Billy Smith. He signed professional terms at the South London outfit just three months before his 22nd birthday. A real latecomer to the professional game, he made up for lost time in a career in which he went on to achieve plenty.
Wright grew up in a council estate in South-East London and opportunities for him as a young person were limited. After having a frustrating time trying to get noticed and earn professional contracts at top-flight clubs, Wright had almost given up on his dream of being a professional by the time Crystal Palace came calling. At the time playing for Greenwich Borough, his transfer fee from the non-league outfit was a set of weights. After being signed for just a set of weights, Eagles fans likely did not expect too much of their new man, little did they know he was about to become a club legend.
The 1986 arrival of front-man Mark Bright from Leicester City would see Mark Bright and Ian Wright combine to form a deadly strike partnership. The ‘Wright Bright’ partnership was so effective it took Palace out of the second division to the top-flight in the 1988/89 season, and the Selhurst Park outfit would reach an FA Cup final against Manchester United in 1990, which they drew 3-3, with Ian Wright scoring twice. Wright scored 90 league goals for the Eagles’ in his time with the club, and firmly cemented himself as a club legend.
His form would eventually see him move to North London giants Arsenal, who signed him for a fee of £2.5m, at the time a very sizeable fee, where the striker would continue to excel and prove himself to be a top-class striker. His calmness in front of goal and class really set him apart from his contemporaries, and he entered the Premier League era as one of the best players in the division. Wright would go on to win the Premier League, and two FA Cups with the Gunners, whilst being the club’s top-scorer for an incredible six seasons in a row. He also made 33 appearances and scored nine goals for England.
His rise to fame and fortune all stemmed from that transfer in 1985, from Greenwich Borough to Crystal Palace. The transfer of Wright to the Eagles was truly a transfer which shook the world.