Be Your Best

“Pass it On”: Ian Wright on the Role Models Who Shaped Him

This Father’s Day, Gillette is celebrating the role models that help men be their best, and we’re encouraging everyone to thank the people who’ve made a difference in their lives.

To better understand the influence role models can have, we spoke to former Crystal Palace and Arsenal striker, Ian Wright, to find out about the men who helped him become the best version of himself. In the film, A Letter to My Dad, Ian opens up about who he was inspired and influenced by as he grew up in London without his biological father.

The story of Ian’s rise from obscurity to the height of the professional game is one punctuated by the men who gave him a chance, and who shaped his life in a profound and positive way. Two particularly influential men in Ian’s life were Mr Pigden, Ian’s old PE teacher, and former Palace manager, Steve Coppell. It was the former who taught Ian that life was about helping other people; and the latter who gave him his first real break in the form of a professional football contract. In the film, Ian likens the relationships he formed with these men as akin to “adopting a dad”.

But, for Ian, there is perhaps no greater role model than former Arsenal Vice-Chairman, David Dein, MBE. The two still speak on the phone on a daily basis, in much the same way as a traditional father and son.

In the film, Ian also recalls how the men he was inspired by have encouraged him to be a role model for others. For Ian, it’s simply about passing on the lessons he had the fortune of picking up from his role models. Today, he remains in contact with countless Premier League footballers who see him as a role model. It’s a position Ian takes seriously, and he remains on hand to offer advice, and give support to younger men so they can be at their best.

The power of ‘passing it on’, and being a role model for others, is clear to see in a moving letter from his son, Bradley. “Growing up, most kids pretend to be superheroes”, Bradley writes, “but I just wanted to be Ian Wright, a real life super hero from where I was from”.

This Father’s Day, join us in thanking the people who’ve made a difference in your life. #MyRoleModel



Writer and expert