Jamie Vardy: The New Ian Wright

I went down the Lane,
The other night,
To tell the Y**s,
We got the new Ian Wright,

They said to me,
How can that be?
I said to them,
We got Thierry Henry…

Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry,
Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry,
Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry,
Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry!

10 JAN 1996:  Ian Wright of Arsenal listens to the cheers of the supporters after he scored in the Coca Cola Cup quarter final match against Newcastle at Highbury.

That was 1999. 17 years ago. And whilst Thierry Henry was Ian Wright like when putting the ball into the back of the net, on and off the pitch he was a completely different character.

Less charismatic. More thoughtful. More concerned with his own image. Not a bit of a nasty piece of work.

And it is that last one which set Ian Wright apart from other strikers in the 1990s. He was a nasty piece of work.

Whilst England was full of polite, well-mannered player; Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Gary Linekar, Les Ferdinand. Ian Wright for all intents and purposes, a bit of a scum bag.

Growing up on a council estate in poverty, 3 to a bed, he would do time in Chelmsford before getting his break as a professional footballer. At 21 he was working manual jobs in Greenwich, already a young father to both Shaun and Bradley, he finally got his chance at Crystal Palace just 3 months shy of his 22nd birthday.

At Palace, he developed into one of the most deadly strikers in England. including when he scored a hat-trick in just eighteen minutes in Palace’s penultimate game of the 1990/91 season away to Wimbledon.

Whilst scoring goals, he never forgot where he was from, who he represented. He was still that nasty piece of work from the streets. Happy to put his foot in. Wind an opponent up. Start a fight.

In 1991 he joined Arsenal, he was a little shy of 28. The medals, the records, the suspensions, the FA disciplinary records, they all rolled in.

We all loved him, opponents all hated him.

He was a nasty piece of work on the pitch, but a deadly goal scorer. A c**t but our c**t.

25 years after we signed him, Arsenal are on the verge of repeating a similar feet. Jamie Vardy.

Vardy has taken a similar, and well written about, path to Premier League football. From non league to Premier League in less than 5 years.

He has scored goals everywhere he has been, but at no point has he lost his edge. His nasty streak. That thing you need when playing Saturday league football in Sheffield.

He is not politically correct, he is not interview trained, he, like Ian Wright, is just a normal bloke who is good at football. And came into the game late enough that he has not had his personality, his nastiness, coached out of him.

Wright was signed for £2.5m when the world record transfer fee was just £8m. Vardy will join for around £20m when the world record is £80+. Fairly similar prices.

I will never forget the first time I heard about Jamie Vardy. He was at Fleetwood Town and someone I go football with, who is also from Fleetwood, was banging on about him. “He will play for England one day” “I’d love Wenger to sign him” “31 goals in 36 games”. Of course, we all laughed. He was in the conference at the time!

In one year at Fleetwood he became a club legend, scored the goals to win them the conference, then moved to Leicester City for £1m.

Already at Arsenal, we have our Alan Smith, by Monday I hope we have signed our new Ian Wright.

I went down the Lane,
The other night,
To tell the Y**s,
We got the new Ian Wright,

They said to me,
How can that be?
I said to them,
We got Jamie Vardy…

Jamie Vardy, Jamie Vardy,
Jamie Vardy, Jamie Vardy,
Jamie Vardy, Jamie Vardy,
Jamie Vardy, Jamie Vardy!

Keenos

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