- Ian Wright is to quit BBC’s Match of the Day at the end of the season
- The Arsenal legend looks forward to doing different things with his Saturdays
- Do Man United have what it takes to exploit Liverpool’s defensive vulnerability? It’s All Kicking Off
Ian Wright has announced on social media that he will be ‘stepping back’ from BBC’s iconic Match of the Day programme at the end of the current season.
Wright made his debut on the highlights show when he was still a player in 1997, and became a regular pundit five years later, after his retirement from football in 2000.
The Arsenal legend wrote on X (formerly Twitter): ‘After my debut show whilst still a player in 1997 and many more memorable years, I’ll be stepping back from BBC MOTD at the end of this season. I feel very privileged to have had such an incredible run on the most iconic football show in the world.’
The 60-year-old pundit, who earned 33 caps for England, went on to explain his love for the show, first appearing on it as a Gunners player.
Wright said: ‘Anyone that knows my story knows how much the show has meant to me since I was young boy. MOTD is my Holy Grail. On my first ever show, I told Des Lynam, “This is my Graceland”. It will always be my Graceland and I will always be watching.’
However, the timing of the show means that he is frequently working weekends, and this was part of his rationale for deciding to quit the show at the present time – after seeing out what looks to be an exciting race at the top and bottom of the Premier League.
He revealed: ‘I’m stepping back having made great friends and many great memories. This decision has been coming for a while, maybe my birthday earlier this year fast tracked it a little, but ultimately it’s time to do a few more different things with my Saturdays.
‘I’m really looking forward to my last months on the show and covering what will hopefully be an amazing Premier League title race.’
Wright signed off his gratitude to Match of the Day with a number of emojis including a cool guy and a red love heart.
He also shared a number of images from his history with the iconic BBC programme, from his early appearances in the 1990s, to more recent shots.
Wright was initially a regular on Match of the Day between 2002 and 2008, before leaving the show – only to return to the studio on a regular basis in 2015.
In May, he became one half of the first father-and-son punditry team in Match of the Day’s illustrious history, when he appeared alongside Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Philip Bernie, the head of BBC Sport Content, said: ‘Ian has been a wonderful star player on MOTD since his first appearance over 20 years ago. His insight, wit and warmth have richly entertained and informed all those watching him.
‘We will miss his unique style and presence when he goes at the end of this season, but we will be sure to give him the send-off he deserves.’
Wright spent six years at Crystal Palace before joining Arsenal in a club record move for the Gunners in 1991.
After seven years in North London, the forward had spells at West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic and Burnley, before retiring from the game in 2000.
The final day of the 2023-24 Premier League season sees several of Wright’s former sides in action, with Crystal Palace hosting Aston Villa, Arsenal welcoming Everton to the Emirates, and Burnley playing Nottingham Forest.
Olivia Martin is a dedicated sports journalist based in the UK. With a passion for various athletic disciplines, she covers everything from major league championships to local sports events, delivering up-to-the-minute updates and in-depth analysis.