Ian Wright once walked away from BBC MOTD after being treated as ‘jester’

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Written By Maya Cantina

Ian Wright has announced he is leaving Match of the Day permanently – and he actually once quit the show for eight years after accusing the BBC of treating him like a “comedy jester”. The former Arsenal striker announced on Sunday that he is leaving the show for good eight years after he returned from a lengthy hiatus.

Wright, 60, is stepping down from Match of the Day to spend more of his Saturdays away from the public eye. But it is a much happier parting of ways compared to when the ex-England international initially quit in 2008.

Having made his first appearance on the show while still playing in 1997, Wright was a regular pundit on the Premier League highlights show from 2001. However, he stood down after seven years, feeling that he was used merely to “break the ice” between fellow guests Alan Shearer and Alan Hansen.

“I feel like I am just there as a comedy jester to break the ice with Alan Shearer and Alan Hansen, who just do run-of-the-mill things. I can’t do that any more. People want something different,” Wright said at the time.

Wright, who enjoyed a successful playing career with Arsenal and Crystal Palace, made up with BBC bosses and returned to Match of the Day in 2015. In the interim, he had spent time working for ITV on international fixtures.

At the time, an unnamed BBC source told The Sun newspaper: “[We have] loved him from afar ever since he left the show seven years ago. Unfortunately, he felt he was being used as a figure of fun, although that was certainly never our intention.

“Since then he has done a variety of projects but we always loved him from afar and that was proven when he was given the 606 job a couple of years back.”

Wright has announced that he will stand down from Match of the Day at the end of the season. In an emotional statement on social media platform X, he wrote: “After my debut show whilst still a player in 1997 and many more memorable years, I’ll be stepping back from BBC MOTD at the end of this season.

“I feel very privileged to have had such an incredible run on the most iconic football show in the world.

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