Arsenal’s top legend reveals how he almost signed up for Chelsea

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright will go down as one of the best strikers the Premier League has ever seen.

The former Gunners striker who is now a pundit moved to Highbury in 1991 to play under George Graham, but the successful Scottish manager was sacked in 1995 after nine years in charge.

Bruce Rioch was appointed as the next manager and he had a bad relationship with George Graham for playing him on the left wing. Wright handed in a transfer request, but Rioch was dismissed and eventually replaced by Arsene Wenger at the beginning of the 1996-97 season, under whom he won the Premier League and FA Cup double the following season.

Ian Wright has revealed how close he was to joining Chelsea.

Photo: Getty images

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Wright said: “Yes [I could have joined Chelsea], under Glenn Hoddle. It was that year that I had with Bruce Rioch that was a real tough one.

“I handed in a transfer request by the time it got to a serious point because I genuinely thought I was leaving. Arsenal don’t sack managers and obviously George Graham went

“After Bruce Rioch came in, after the first year, we literally argued every day and I thought I should just leave, as there was no way Arsenal were going to get rid of him and something was going to happen between us.

“So I put that transfer request in, they refused it, it all went up in the air and in the end I was in touch with Chelsea.

“It would have been a big mistake for me to leave at that stage with everything that happened with me at Arsenal. I ended up winning the league, got the top goal-scorer in Arsenal’s history before, obviously, Thierry [Henry] broke it.

“It wouldn’t have been a good way to leave. I know, down the years, many people have left football clubs because they haven’t been able to get on with the manager.

“I have just got to give thanks to the likes of David Dein, and the Arsenal board, at the time, who realised that, for me, [appointing Rioch] was a mistake.

“It wasn’t working out. I was very vocal in that and a lot of the other players were vocal when it suited them. I didn’t mind letting him know what I felt and in the end he went.”

About the Author

VICTOR N
Chelsea is more than just a football club to me; it's a passion I share, and my affinity with the Chelsea badge is one that will last forever. As far as watching my favourite team is concerned, I'd rather miss a meal than miss a Chelsea game.