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Alan Wright Interview: Aston Villa, Shearer, Yorke, Dalglish

Speaking on the I Had Trials Once Podcast, sponsored by bet365, former Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa defender Alan Wright recounted stories of some of the great players and managers he shared a dressing room with, including Alan Shearer, Dwight Yorke and Kenny Dalglish.

The series, sponsored by bet365, has seen regular hosts Gareth Seddon and Jordan Hulme joined by Neil Reynolds, Tommy Spurr, Calvin Andrew, Paul Marshall, Dean Holden and most recently Alan Wright.

Wright references stories from his interactions with all three of the legendary players, ranging from Shearer not being “the brightest”, to Yorke’s outrageous skill and Daglish’s incredible man-management skills.

Alan Shearer was a great guy and an unbelievable talent, but he wasn’t the brightest…

"Alan Shearer was a great guy, but he wasn’t the brightest. He was sponsored by Jaguar cars and he came in one day and said, ‘someone’s broken the lion off the front of my car!’ Straight away I clocked it because he was sponsored by Jaguar so I asked him who he was sponsored by and he said, Jaguar’, then I asked him what they’d broken off his car, and he said‘the lion!’ He didn’t have a clue!"

"He was ruthless in training and he was aggressive. He wouldn’t leave one on you on purpose, but you could imagine that he would be a hard man to play against if you weren’t on his team. He was an unbelievable finisher as well. It seemed like he would just hit the ball as hard as he could, but he’d never miss the target. He’d try to pop the ball he’d hit it so hard, and he used to say to us that he was never going to hit it completely clean so if he hit it hard and it diverted a bit, then it would always cause the keeper problems. He was an unbelievable talent and his goal record speaks for itself."

Yorke was so easy to play with

"I was at Aston Villa at the same time as Dwight Yorke and he was such a great player. Whenever I lifted my head up he was always there, giving me an option whether it was short, long, in behind, anything. One day I pulled him aside and asked him how he was always so open. He told me that when he first came over, Graham Taylor had told him that no matter where the ball was on the pitch he should be available. He was so easy to play with."

"He had a ridiculous amount of skill. He used to stand in a small, square bin in the dressing room and any time a new player came in he would bet them £100 that he could do 50 keep-ups with his head without falling out of the bin. Obviously everyone took the bet because it seems impossible – I never saw him fail to do it. When he went to Manchester United and played with Andy Cole it was just amazing – what a combination that was."

Dalglish was way ahead of his time

"The first time I met Kenny Dalglish was when I walked into the office to meet him and Ray Harford when I was signing for Blackburn. I was sat in his office in awe because Kenny is obviously a legend. We all sat down and he just said, ‘there is going to be one offer and one offer only, and this is the offer.’ I looked at my agent expecting him to negotiate and ask for more, but he just nodded his head and accepted the deal straight away. That was it. I signed the contract and my agent still billed me, he hadn’t even done anything!"

"Both Kenny Dalglish and Ray Harford were great coaches and it was a massive learning curve for me. Kenny would give you the tiny details but they would be what won you games. We played Chelsea away and Kenny noticed that Dave Beasant, Chelsea’s goalkeeper, liked to move early to stop crosses so he told Jason Wilcox to shoot at the near post instead of crossing it, and sure enough that’s how he scored and we won 1-0. Things like that were way ahead of his time."

"I remember playing against Chris Waddle and he was a left-footed right-winger who would cut back and cross the ball a lot. I just couldn’t stop him from checking back and crossing the ball in every time. Kenny pulled me at half-time and basically taught me how to defend against him in about three minutes. He’s not even a defender and he taught me how to stop him. He made me show Waddle outside and he couldn’t run past me because his legs were going and he never got another cross in. It was unbelievable. "

Aston Villa are a massive club

“I was at Villa for just over nine years and my time at the club was great - it is a massive club. People ask me what the best club I played for was, and I enjoyed all of them, but first and foremost I always look at Villa because I spent so long there. "

“When you’re playing, you don’t realise that you’re at such a big club because you’re within it – but we were in and around the top six for seven or eight years. It’s only when you look back you realise and have pride in what you’ve achieved.”

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