Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wright-Phillips Shows Why Becks Can Stay in Hollywood Rest Home; Opening Salvo: Shaun Wright-Phillips Makes the Critical Breakthrough for England

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wright-Phillips Shows Why Becks Can Stay in Hollywood Rest Home; Opening Salvo: Shaun Wright-Phillips Makes the Critical Breakthrough for England

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

WHEN your international opposition is as pitifully lacking in ambitionas Israel were at Wembley Stadium, then it is probably far too easy to over-eggthe praise for the contributions of England's match-winners. For instance, YoavZiv, the visiting left-back, seemed so hapless that Crimewatch would have hadto stage a reconstruction if Shaun Wright-Phillips hadn't taken him to thecleaners.

Yet this was not a day to judge Wright-Phillips on the strength of theineptitude of one defender over 90 minutes. Rather, it was the time to salutethe Chelsea winger's remarkable strength of character over three long years toreach this point of being man of the match for his country in a crucialchampionship qualifier.

Up in the BBC commentary box, one none-tooneutral observer was spouting onabout how exalted he felt about SWP because "of what he's been through" and,for once, it was not difficult to empathise with Ian Wright. For when you'vebeen derided as a [pounds sterling]21million misfit as often as his lad has, then it would be ahard heart which begrudged you this hour of redemption.

"I am not a person to quit. If something needs harder work then I will put myhead down and do it," Wright-Phillips had told Standard Sport with someprescience only last week. He's proved himself a fighter all right, just as theman he replaced at the weekend had done so often. The only question now,though, is whether SWP may have KO'd David Beckham's career for good onEngland's right flank.

You would, of course, have to be spectacularly foolhardy to write off Beckham'sresurrection shuffle just as he sits three caps away from achieving hischerished ambition of joining England's 100 Club but while he nursed hiswounded knee and the stale, distant Hollywood hype thankfully subsided, therewas something vibrant and refreshing about Wright-Phillips's injection of paceand one-on-one combat.

Here was something completely different from Becks; we would never have seen anelectric surge from old Goldenballs cutting through the offside trap to volleyhome the goal which Wright-Phillips converted so expertly and nor would we haveseen him tormenting full-backs with his sheer speed and trickery. …

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