Jamma has no regrets
NO regrets.Jermaine Wright will make his 200th appearance for Ipswich Town tomorrow against Crewe Alexandra – the team he signed from for £500,000 in the summer of 1999.
Jermaine Wright will make his 200th appearance for Ipswich Town tomorrow against Crewe Alexandra – the team he signed from for £500,000 in the summer of 1999. Now, even after the dark days of relegation and pay deferrals, he is still delighted to have made the move, writes Derek Davis.
Wright left the Railwaymen after rejecting a new contract offer and finding himself up for grabs.
He said: "From being one of the top players at a smaller club like Crewe I was suddenly on the move and it was a big step. It was a bigger club, better players, so I had to make my mark, win my place in the side and make the position my own.
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He said: "In my first year I played at Wembley, and then played in the Premiership and played in Europe in successive years after coming here.
"It was another step up when we went into the Premiership and I had my best season by far."
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So good that George Burley and the coaching staff named Wright as the Most Improved Player, in a year when the whole squad excelled themselves to finish fifth in the Premier League.
Wright said: "In fact, we all blossomed that season, everyone did well that first year. It was a big season and we more than held our own. But then I came out of the team and had injuries and found it difficult at times.
"There were times when I thought I may have scored more goals, or played more games, but you can't turn the clock back, you just have to get on with it."
Wright's form this season has had a big bearing on Town moving up into the play-off places.
He said: "I'm really enjoying myself in the centre of midfield, or the odd game at right-back. The team is playing well. The manager has made a couple of new signings, which in turn has brought the best out of other players.
"At the start of the season I wasn't in the team but when I got in I made the position my own.
"The Gaffer has shaken things up because I think last year we were going stale but he changed things. Making Richard Naylor a centre-half, for example, having a different, more relaxed, approach.
"Joe (Royle) has certainly brought the best out in me. Willie (Donachie) and Tony (Mowbeay) on the training side of things probably don't get the sort of credit they deserve sometimes but again they have improved me as a player.
"I'm the sort of player who needs a kick up the backside all the time and they keep on top of me. Willie is a perfectionist and that rubs off on everyone else.
"On top of that the Gaffer is there when you need him."
After being berated for the past couple of seasons by a section of the supporters, Wright has produced a number of man-of-the-match performances for Ipswich this season. Being one of the first names on the teamsheet each week has helped his confidence.
He said: "At one time there were probably eight players who were always going to be in the side and I was one of those fighting for one of the other three places. Now I'm one of those who is getting a regular game and there are others who are fighting for a place. But that is what it is about, getting your place and keeping hold of it."
Wright was sold by Crewe boss Dario Gradi who had taken him to Crewe from Wolves.
Gradi said: "Jermaine was a super find for us. He has great presence on a football pitch and although he never quite realised his early promise he is still a very good player."
Wright was grateful for the development he experienced under Gradi before stepping up to an even higher level at Ipswich.
He said: "Dario has done wonders for a load of players just as he did with me. He is an excellent coach. He is at a game every night or coaching kids and at weekends as well. He always has a conveyor belt of talented players coming through.
"But he also knows the right time to move players on. I always say I paid for their training ground. He usually sells one a year to keep things going. Crewe are a really well-run club and that has to do with him."
Wright was surprised that the double century had come so quickly but looks back with some pride.
He said: "It seems to have happened so quickly and it is a landmark I'm proud to achieve.
"Plenty of games stick out, Wembley, the San Siro, scoring at Leeds early in the Premiership, scoring against Crewe in my first season here."
Along with Jim Magilton, Richard Naylor and Martijn Reuser, Wright is out of contract in the summer and none have yet been told if their contracts are going to be renewed.
He said: "I would love to play another 200 games here. I'm settled in the area, I got married here last summer, the kids are settled in school and I'm enjoying it.
"There are a few of us waiting on new contracts. A few years back it would have been sorted by now but the financial situation in football is so different that won't happen. Unless you are the elite that won't happen.
"It does play on your mind, not knowing if you are going to be in work come the summer or not. But you have to be positive about it, play well and hope it works out okay.
"Of course, the best solution is to win promotion to the Premiership."
Beating old club Crewe, with another of those special strikes, would go some way in achieving that.