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Monday, July 13, 1998 Published at 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK


Sport: Football: News

Wright moves to West Ham



West Ham have confirmed the signing of Ian Wright from London rivals Arsenal on a two-year contract.

Arsenal's all-time leading goal scorer had talks with West Ham manager Harry Redknapp last week after saying it might be time to move on from Arsenal during the World Cup.


Ian Wright speaks to the press: "I'm just here to score goals..."
Wright said leaving Arsenal was a difficult decision, but that he was excited about the future: "They've got a fantastic team and I'm just happy to be a part of that. I'm just here to score goals," he said.

Hammers manager Redknapp said: "Ian has an awful lot to offer as a player and as a person. He is a great character whether on the pitch or in the dressing-room. I would say he is the most enthusiastic footballer I have ever come across."


[ image: Wright on winning form for Arsenal]
Wright on winning form for Arsenal
Wright led the Arsenal attack after being signed in 1991 for 2.5m. He holds the club's high scoring record having broken Cliff Bastin's record of 178 on September 13 last year.

A favourite with the Gunners' fans, Wright is said to have been concerned that he would not get a first team place in the 1998/9 season at Highbury after manager Arsene Wenger had been shopping in the summer transfer market.

Arsenal fans have spoken of their dismay at losing such a character. Ian McPherson, of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association said:

"The thought of Ian playing for another club is unimaginable, especially if he was playing against Arsenal. He has provided us fans with some great moments and some great goals and there is no doubt he is one of the greatest strikers in the club's history.

"I would love for Ian to finish his career at Highbury but if he thinks he is going to spend the majority of next season on the bench then I can understand his motives."

Wright's name had become synonymous with Gunners passion. The prolific striker, who had discipline problems at the beginning of his Highbury career, was famous for his total committment to the club.


[ image: Arsene Wenger: spending in Europe]
Arsene Wenger: spending in Europe
Off the pitch he dabbled in music as a rapper and dj, and often made television appearances as football pundit and personality.

Former Gunners have paid tribute to the striker's ability. Arsenal striker Alan Smith said: "Ian is the best finisher I have ever played with. He will be hard to replace, but all good things come to an end and Ian has obviously seen the writing on the wall and feels the time is right to move on."

Ex-Arsenal manager Terry Neill said: "Ian is nothing short of magnificent. He is a bubbly character who loves life and gives it his best shot in everything he does. Ian is an up-front person who wears his heart on his sleeve and I love him."

Wenger on the look-out

Arsene Wenger brought the team double victory in the 1997/8 season by combining home-grown with European talent. He has been reported as scouring the summer transfer market.

World Cup final goal-scorer Emmanuel Petit, who was brought to Arsenal by Wenger, has said the manager is "the greatest man I know".

Wenger is said to have bid 3.5m for Standard Liege's Lokonda Mpenza, who was in the Belgian World Cup squad. Reports also say he is interested in Javier Margas, Chile's defender who impressed in the World Cup.

But Wenger has been quoted as rejecting any link with a bid for Dutch star Patrick Kluivert.



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