Black History Month: Ian Wright names De Bruyne and Gerrard as white football stars fighting against racism
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Wright who grew up in Brockley, Lewisham, suffered racism throughout his career and watched on painfully as his son, Shaun Wright-Phillips endured similar fate due the colour of his skin.
Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford are the two leading black players in the Premier League who are standing up against the vile abuse towards black players.
But Wright says the fight against racism is steadily progressing because white players like Kevin De Bruyne and Ben Mee are getting the message.
He was speaking to son Shaun Wright-Phillips and grandson D’Margio Wright-Phillips in a documentary put together by Barclays for Black History Month.
The former England striker said: “I saw two things really that stand out: Steven Gerrard, the way he protected his player when he was racially abused was amazing.
“People like him, you know, Ben Mee, when he saw what was going on, he said: ‘I want to do an interview after this game.’
“He said to his press officer, he came out and said he wanted to do it and spoke amazingly.
“It was one of those things, again, because it’s so few and far between, it makes you well up because then you can see allies.
“Kevin De Bruyne, James Ward-Prowse, Jordan Henderson. Progress is being made because we’re hearing from prominent people. From my time to this time, you can feel the joy. There’s joy coming. I can feel it.”
D’Margio Wright-Phillips, who is just beginning his career having joined championship side Stoke City from Manchester City, also confirmed growing support from white players against racism.
He added: “They’re aware of it. They still know it’s going on if it’s going on in the game.
“They’ll come to support us or if I want to walk off the pitch they will follow me and if I want to carry on the game they’ll support me.”
Considered a pioneer to a new generation of black footballers, Ian Wright rose through difficulties to establish himself as one of the best footballers of his generation.
He and his son Shaun Wright-Phillips collectively have 149 Premier League goals and 69 caps for England.
They are hoping that the best is yet to come from their family with D’Margio already showing signs of success on the pitch.
Wright, 57, spent time in prison for failing to pay driving fines, and worked in construction, before getting an opportunity as a professional footballer.
He played 221 times for Arsenal, scoring 128 goals, and before that 225 games for Crystal Palace, with 90 goals.
Now Wright is a high-profile pundit for the BBC and ITV, however that has still not stopped racist trolls targeting him.
He told fellow pundit Alan Shearer he gets daily abuse on social media about the colour of his skin.
Wright pressed charges against Patrick O’Brien, from Tralee, County Kerry, who sent vile racist abuse on Instagram, however the 18-year-old was let off with a probation.