UK

Ian Wright receives Freedom of the City of London

Ian Wright played 33 times for England during his career (Jordan Pettitt/PA)
Ian Wright played 33 times for England during his career (Jordan Pettitt/PA) Ian Wright played 33 times for England during his career (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Former Arsenal and England footballer Ian Wright has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London.

The 59-year-old, who played professionally between 1985 and 2000, received the honour at Guildhall on Wednesday in recognition of his services to sport and London.

Wright has gone on to carve out a successful broadcast career since retiring, both as a TV presenter and football pundit.

One of the City of London’s ancient traditions, the Freedom is believed to have begun in 1237 and originally enabled recipients to carry out their trade.

Reflecting on his award, Wright said: “I only ever wanted to be a professional footballer, so 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.”

Ian Wright receives Freedom of the City of London
Ian Wright receives Freedom of the City of London Wright’s former managers George Graham (left) and Steve Coppell (right) were in attendance as he collected the award (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

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.

“Ian 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.”

Wright signed his first professional contract at Crystal Palace aged 21 and went on to score more than 100 times for the club.

He later signed for Arsenal for a then-club record £2.5 million in 1991 and became the team’s all-time top scorer, as well as winning a Premier League title, two FA Cups and one League Cup.

There were also short spells at West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic, and Burnley before retirement, as well as 33 caps and nine goals for England.

Wright was previously made an OBE in June in the King’s first Birthday Honours list.

Fellow English footballer Harry Kane also received the Freedom of the City of London earlier this year.