footballing hero is Billy Wright, a name guaranteed to moisten the
eye of any Wolves fan.
wasn't just a legend at Wolves. He was the first player to notch
up more than 100 England caps - and he was born and brought up in
Shropshire lad broke record after record in a truly remarkable career.
The Football League's website describes him as 'arguably the greatest
club and country servant in the history of the game' - praise indeed
for a man with a reputation as a gent both on and off the pitch.
led Wolves to three league titles and an FA Cup victory. He won
105 caps, more than 70 as captain, and had a name as a skilled winger(later
central defender) who always seemed to make time on the ball for
as you can hear in the audio on this page, he was an inspiration
to many footballers - not least Kevin Keegan.
& Becks? Billy and his wife Joy show off his CBE after
a trip to the Palace
hanging up his boots, he managed Arsenal, and of course his marriage
to one of the famous Beverley Sisters (the Spice Girls of the 1950s),
brought him further attention.
the young William Ambrose Wright had to fight hard to become a professional
footballer - and prove a few people wrong along the way.
in Ironbridge on 6th February 1924, Billy was the son of a talented
local footballer who was well-known for terrorising defences. He'd
spend hours as a boy kicking a ball up against a door, getting his
first football boots at the age of eight as a Christmas present.
was as a pupil of Madeley Wood Modern School that his skills first
began to catch the eye - not least when he, playing as a centre
forward, he scored 10 goals for the school against Bewdley.
his sports master, Norman Simpson, tipped off Wolverhampton Wanderers
and young Billy was given a job on the ground staff. But despite
his talent, the then manager, a Major Frank Buckley, didn't think
the boy would make the grade.
for Billy, Mr Simpson urged Wolves to reconsider, and the Major
listened. Billy stayed at Wolves at 'boot boy' - and finally got
first team debut came just before the outbreak of World War II,
and he signed as a professional when he turned 17.
war interrupted Billy's career, and he joined the Army as a physical
training instructor in 1943, although he still got to play the odd
game for Wolves.
the war over, Billy's rise to fame began. Soon he was captain, and
within a few years Wolves had won the league title.
more titles followed as Billy became an ever-present in the side
right the way through the 1950s - at least until 1959, when he announced
his retirement from football and was awarded the CBE.
came in an age when footballers were often ignored in the Honours
List, and given today's vogue for handing out knighthoods to the
likes of Alex Ferguson, Elton John and Paul McCartney, it's likely
that Billy would have been 'Sir Billy' had he been around today.
went on to manager Arsenal, his boyhood heroes, for four years,
and then in 1966 moved into TV, retiring in 1989.
the following year he was back at Wolves, as a director for the
he died of cancer in 1994 at the age of 70, and his adopted home
town of Wolverhampton came to a standstill for his funeral as fans
paid their respects.
his statue stands outside their stadium. And a blue plaque marks
the tiny cottage in Ironbridge where he was born.