Shropshire History

Billy Wright


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William (Billy) Wright was born at Ironbridge in 1924. He went to school in Madeley and left in 1938, aged 14, to become a member of the ground staff at Wolverhampton Wanderers. He made his debut for Wolves in a B team game against Walsall Wood, after being accepted on an eight-month trial. He made his first team debut for the club aged just 15 in a 2–1 win at Notts County in 1939. The Second World War forced Wolves to suspend competitive football so Wright turned out as a guest player for Leicester City, before returning to Wolves in 1942. He joined the army in 1943 as a Physical Training Instructor but played for Wolves whenever possible, making over 100 appearances in wartime football. His international debut for the England team was in 1946 when they won 2–0 against Belgium. He was made England captain in 1948, a role he held for 90 games until his retirement. He made 105 full international appearances, scoring three times. He was also the first football player in the world to earn 100 caps.

Billy became captain of Wolves soon after the end of the war and led the team to win the First Division title three times (1953–54, 1957–58 and 1958–59) as well as the FA Cup in 1949. He only missed 31 games for Wolves during the 1950s. During his total of 541 appearances for Wolves and his 105 games for England, his disciplinary record was excellent and he was never cautioned or sent off. In 1958, he married Joy Beverley of the Beverley Sisters. Billy retired from playing in 1959 and became manager of England's youth team in 1960. In 1962, he became manager of Arsenal but his time with them was not very successful and he was dismissed in 1966. After leaving management, he became a television pundit and Head of Sport for ATV and Central Television, before retiring in 1989. However, the following year, he joined the board of directors at Wolverhampton Wanderers as part of the takeover by Sir Jack Hayward.

Statue of Billy Wright outside Wolves' stadium

In 1994, he died from pancreatic cancer, aged 70. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered on the pitch at Wolves’ Molineux Stadium.