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Shaun Wright-Phillips: Manchester City's pocket rocket

With just four minutes left of Manchester City's rampant 6-0 win over Queens Park Rangers near the end of the 2015/15 season, choruses of "Shauny Wright Wright

Wright" reverberated around the Etihad Stadium.



It's rather poignant that Shaun Wright-Phillips' last appearance in English football came at the club where it all started.


Released at the age of 15 by Nottingham Forrest for being "too small", SWP was yet another to prove that height doesn't limit potential in football.


Manchester City moved quickly to sign the adopted son of Ian Wright, noting his pace and evasive skills as a large factor.


He quickly caught the eye of the City manager at the time, Joe Royle, who commented: "the little fella was terrific," after seeing a youth game at Platt Lane.



SWP made his City debut on the 24th of August 1999, against Burnley in the League Cup, replacing City's sole goal scorer Terry Cooke.


He went on to make four more appearances that season, most notably forcing an own goal in his first League appearance as City turned around a 1-0 deficit against Port Vale.


City returned to the Premier League after a four-year absence, and SWP started to become incorporated into the first-team set-up, making 16 appearances, as City were relegated.


Kevin Keegan replaced Royle at the end of the season, and it was under former England manager that SWP flourished.


Initially, Keegan also thought SWP was too small, despite personally not being particularly big in stature, but SWP proved to be too good to leave out.


Keegan preferred an attacking 3-5-2 formation, which saw SWP compete with Richard Edghill for the right-wing-back role.


SWP blossomed, scoring eight goals in 40 appearances as City stormed their way to 99 points and the Championship title, breaking numerous records on their way.


His first goal came in a 3-2 win away to Milwall, which proved to be a vital turning point in the season. City led twice, with SWP setting up Shaun Goater for the opener, but Millwall pegged City back twice.


In the 83rd minute, SWP received a pass on the counterattack from Darren Huckerby and proceeded to curl a delightful finish into the top corner. The New Den was engulfed with a beautifully stunned silence, with no away fans allowed due to crowd trouble in previous fixtures.



City established themselves back in Premier League the following season, finishing ninth, with SWP making 34 appearances, scoring once and assisting twice, but it was the 2003/04 season where he started to shine.


Eleven goals in 46 appearances saw SWP named Manchester City player of the year, but despite impressive seasons from the flying winger and Nicolas Anelka, City slipped to a 16th place finish.


SWP was starting to get admiring glances from across the Premier League, and possibly his best season in a Blue shirt came in the 2004/05 season.



City improved to an eighth-place finish, missing out on a European place due to Robbie Fowler's penalty miss against Middlesborough on the last day of the season, but SWP scored 12 times that season and was named in the PFA Team of the Season.


However, behind the scenes at City, the club was on the brink of financial ruin, and Nicolas Anelka was sold to Fernabache in January to keep the club afloat. SWP was approached by those running the club and was told he was to be sold or the club would go into administration.


SWP didn't want to go and still maintains this today, but he had little choice in the matter as he reluctantly moved to Chelsea for a fee of around £28 million.


He left the club with four Manchester City Young Player of the Year awards to his name, breaking Steve Kinsey's record.


SWP spent three years with the London-based side under Jose Mourinho, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Community Shield.


Game time was limited for SWP, and he was urged by Fabio Capello to move to a club to get more game time. He had brief talks with Tottenham Hotspur, but City was the only place he wanted to be.


He re-signed for City for around £8.5 million on 28th August 2008.



Noel Gallagher recalls the day when SWP came home:


"Back on the bus I notice I've got 26 messages on my phone. That usually means some famous person or other has got upset with my turn of phrase in an interview or something... Turns out it's great news. SWP has signed for Man City. What a coup! We might actually win something this time."

Gallagher captured what all City fans at the time were thinking that the pocket rocket was home, but to an unrecognisable club compared with what he'd left in 2005.


From warming up pre-match in a school playground, when the club was still at Maine Road, to playing with Robinho, SWP was expected to spearhead the "new City" under Mark Hughes, with his Brazilian teammate.


He scored twice on his second debut away to Sunderland and went on to score seven more times in 38 appearances, as City finished 10th.



SWP was in and out of the team during the 2009/10 season, with Mark Hughes being relieved of duties and Roberto Mancini brought in to bring success. Mancini's rigid tactics didn't suit SWP, and he was slowly phased out, only playing seven times in the League.


He left to join Queens Park Rangers in the summer of 2011.


Sadly, SWP wasn't involved in City's FA Cup win in 2011, but his contribution to Manchester City as a shining light during a difficult period and one of the clubs best youth graduates will forever be heralded.


Not bad for being too small to make a career in football.