GMF tribute to Mark Wright

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In the tradition of great Liverpool centre halves Mark Wright too was an outstanding defender.

Earlier in his career, Wright had forged himself a place amongst the best defenders in England, displaying a bright tendency to waltz forward with the ball and contribute to his team’s offensive raids.

Wright had boarded the plane as part of Bobby Robson’s final 22, replacing Tony Adams for the World Cup Italia 90 squad.

After a dire and much criticised 1-1 draw against Jackie Charlton’s Republic of Ireland in stormy weather at the Stadio Sant' Elia in Cagliari, England needed a change of formation to tackle the Dutch storm, namely the triumvirate of Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten.

Wright was selected as sweeper, polishing up behind Des Walker, Terry Butcher, Paul Parker and Stuart Pearce and kickstarting English attacks. He was a natural and England played impressively for a goalless draw.

In the third game, Wright stole up from the back to head the winning goal against underdogs Egypt.

Wright and the team enjoyed a memorable World Cup, reaching the semi finals. The then Derby County stopper's elegant forays into the opposition half provided the platform for some outstanding English displays, allowing the likes of Paul Gascoigne, David Platt and Paul Parker to express themselves.

Graeme Souness had seen enough and bid £2.2 million to win the race to sign the man earmarked to become the bedrock of Liverpool’s defence. There were very high expectations.

Alan Hansen had retired, Gary Gillespie had moved north of the border to join Celtic and Glen Hysen had been shown the exit.

Wright captained Liverpool to a 2-0 F.A Cup final win against Sunderland in 1992. He scored nine goals in 210 appearances.

Injuries wreaked havoc in his career, and he suffered a strained relationship with Roy Evans. He finished his Anfield experience at the age of 35.

The stylish Wright would have earned more than 45 England caps had injuries prevented participation at Mexico 86 and Euro 96. A fall out with Graham Taylor put paid to Euro 92 and cast him into the international wilderness for four long years.

In an interview with Wright spoke frankly about the injuries that led to him missing some historic games:

"It’s unfortunate when those injuries occur - there’s nothing you can do about them and you’ve just got to get on with it. And certainly the ’86 World Cup with Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ – if I’d played in that game then who knows what would have happened? I’d have loved to play against them in the quarter-finals of that.

"Then obviously Euro ’96 back here – to have been the mainstay of the side, playing as a sweeper, which I worked so hard on in training with Terry Venables and Don Howe – and I mean extremely hard, it was fantastic training with Terry Venables.

"To have worked so hard to get back in the England setup and get into the side, only to break down at the last, was very disappointing for me, especially when the tournament was being held in this country. I’d love to have played."

Amongst other jobs he has managed Chester City three times.

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