Ian Wright is a very successful man. A player for British football club Arsenal in the 90’s and an all-time leading scorer for football club Crystal Palace before that, Wright has just about every award and honor a football player can win. After retirement, he became a TV presenter, an author, a world traveler, a pop star, a pundit — but it wasn’t always like this for Ian Wright.
He grew up hard in South London, and began to fall through the cracks and into trouble. His acting-out got him kicked out of a lot of classrooms and it was on one of those occasions in the hall that he met the man who would change his life: teacher Sydney Pigden.
Their connection was immediate. Mr. Pigden began to tutor the young Wright in reading and writing, football and life. Their relationship grew. Over the years, Mr. Pigden taught Wright many things, but he taught kindness by example. The two stayed in contact after Wright left school, but then life happened and they lost touch. While Mr. Pigden may have been out of sight, he was never out of mind for Wright, who has said he thought of Mr Pigden every day. Eventually, he heard Pigden had passed away.
So you can imagine his surprise when, years later, while filming a documentary in the stadium where he had achieved so much, Ian heard a familiar voice:
Get your tissues ready….here’s the video, courtesy of that BBC documentary:
See? What did I say?
After their tearful reunion, the two kept in touch, delighted to have found each other again. In 2016 Wright published an updated version of his autobiography A Life in Football. It was dedicated to Mr.Pigden.
Pigden passed away in December of 2017, but not before letting Ian know that the proudest moment of his life had been watching Ian make his international debut for England in 1991.
And in 2019 when a plaque memorializing Mr. Pigden’s service to teaching was to be unveiled?
Ian Wright was there to do the honors.