Mark Wright (English footballer)

Stephen Wright (English footballer)

Stephen John Wright (born 8 February 1980 in Bootle, Liverpool) is an English football defender who currently plays for Coventry City.

Club career

Liverpool

Wright joined Liverpool on a youth contract in June 1996, choosing to join Liverpool over rivals Everton, the club he supported as a boy. Wright turned professional a year later in August 1997, and the following season was named as an unused substitute for the UEFA Cup clash with Celta Vigo on 24 November 1998 alongside Steven Gerrard.

Following a successful loan spell with Crewe Alexandra in the 1999–2000 season, Wright made his Liverpool debut in the 8–0 drubbing of Stoke City on 29 November 2000 in the Football League Cup, replacing Markus Babbel at half time. He went on to play 4 times that season for Liverpool, including a brief substitute appearance against future club Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in February 2001.

Initially starting out as a centre back, Wright made the transition to right back during the 2001–02 season, where he established himself as a useful member of the Liverpool squad. On 27 October 2001, Wright saw red for the first time in his career, after being sent off against Charlton Athletic at The Valley. Wright scored his first goal for the club 3 days later in the UEFA Champions League against Borussia Dortmund. The game ended 2–0 to Liverpool. Wright eventually went on to make 21 first team appearances for Liverpool, while scoring only the one goal.

Sunderland

After finding first team opportunities increasingly difficult to come by, Wright joined Sunderland in a £1.5m deal, which would eventually rise to £3m. Wright was handed the number 2 shirt and made first choice right back, replacing Bernt Haas, who had moved on loan to FC Basle. Wright's tough and uncompromising style made him initially popular with the Sunderland faithful, however, a drastic loss of form, combined with Sunderland's dreadful form in the league saw him criticised towards the end of the season. Sunderland were eventually relegated with a record low of 19 points, in a season that saw manager Peter Reid sacked just weeks after signing Wright, and his replacement, Howard Wilkinson, sacked 5 months into his role.

Wilkinson was replaced by former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, who often alternated between Wright and team-mate Darren Williams for the right back slot during the 2003–04 season. With the club performing well in the league, Wright's confidence grew as a player, and he soon won over his critics with a series of solid displays. Wright scored his first goal for the club on 25 August 2003 against Watford at the Stadium of Light.

Unfortunately for Wright, Sunderland were beaten in the play-offs by Crystal Palace, crushing any hope of a swift return to the Premiership. During the summer, McCarthy strengthened the squad by signing Manchester United right back Mark Lynch, though Wright remained first choice. After a poor start, Sunderland eventually won the league comfortably, with Wright playing a major role and earning himself the respect of the supporters that had once criticised him. As a measure of his popularity, Wright was one of the front-runners for the annual Player of the Year award, eventually finishing in 4th place.

With Sunderland returning to the Premier League, Wright was expected to resume his role at right back, however, a serious knee injury put Wright on the shelf for 6 months, just one game into the season. Upon returning to fitness, Wright was sent off for two bookable offenses on his comeback game against West Ham United on February 4 2006, and later picked up an ankle injury in training that required surgery. This effectively ended Wright's season after just two appearances, as Sunderland crashed out with another record low points tally.

With McCarthy dismissed towards the end of the 2005–06 season, new chairman and former team-mate Niall Quinn agreed to take the reins, however, decided to leave Wright out of the opening games of the 2006–07 season, instead preferring midfielder Rory Delap for the role. Wright made his first appearance for 7 months in the 3-2 defeat to Plymouth on 12 August 2006, however, picked up another injury in the defeat to Bury two games later, and will battle with Nyron Nosworthy and on-loan defender Danny Simpson to regain his position after resuming training with the first team.

Stoke City

On 3 August 2007, it was announced that Wright had joined Stoke City on a 5 month loan deal. His loan ended in January 2008.. He returned to Sunderland in January hoping to get back in the starting XI but failed to do so. Wright was released by Sunderland at the end of the 2007–08 season.

Coventry City

Over the course of the summer of 2008, several clubs, including Hull City, expressed an interest in signing Wright. He spent pre-season training on trial with Coventry City, playing an active part in their pre-season fixtures. After an extended period of negotiations, Wright signed a two-year contract with Coventry on August 8, 2008, the day before the first game of the season.

International career

He was capped for the England U-20 team at the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship, with teammates Stuart Taylor, Ashley Cole, Peter Crouch, Andy Johnson, Matthew Etherington, etc. But the team finished bottom at the group stage, after three defeats.

Personal life

  • Wright's father, John Wright, is a kitman at former club Liverpool.

Career honours

Honours as a player

Liverpool

Winner

Runner Up

Sunderland

Winner

References

External links

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