With the help of the Man United legend, Ireland star U21 Wright is enjoying a new lease on life

TYREIK WRIGHT was less than a year old when Mark Hughes unveiled a distinguished playing career a few months ago at the age of 39 in July 2002.

The Wales legend had stints at Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Barcelona among others, but the best of his memory is 163 goals in 467 appearances over two stints with Manchester United.

Hughes won two Premier League titles, three FA Cup titles, and the European Cup Winners’ Cup among other titles during that time with the Red Devils, as well as serving four times in the First Division Team of the Year.

However, it is only natural that Wright is too young to remember the former star at his pomp.

He says, “I don’t.” “But I have seen some highlights of him. I won’t say I searched for him, but I have seen videos of him on TikTok and other things. I have seen some goals.”

And what was the ruling?

“He seemed like a decent player, and fair,” Wright smiles.

Since then, the 58-year-old has continued his management career, with Blackburn, QPR, Man City and Stoke among the teams he has overseen.

Earlier this year, Hughes ended his more than three-year absence from coaching with a surprise move to second-tier club Bradford City – a major retraction from his previous job managing Southampton in the Premier League.

However, there have been encouraging signs of late – after leading the Bantams to 14th place last season, they are fifth in the table at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, Ireland Under-21 winger Wright moved on loan from Aston Villa to Bradford on deadline day.

“Honestly, I was just hoping to get a loan at the start of pre-season, and obviously the weeks went on,” he says.

“I wouldn’t say I was worried about not getting a loan because there were quite a few options but I waited until I had the right one and it felt better for me. It just came on the last day – I was about to go over the moon.”

It’s now the 20-year-old’s third season in League Two. He previously spent time in Walsall, Salford and Colchester.

His last assignment began encouragingly. Two substitute matches were followed by 90 minutes and a midfield goal in the 3-0 win over Stevenage on Saturday.

“It was so good, of all the loans I got, I would say I enjoy this the most – I only had one month but can’t really complain.

“The player has been great with me and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

“I didn’t realize the size of the club until I signed there but it has a huge history, the stadium and the fans are incredible, I love it so far.

“In Bradford, football is really crazy. Even the fans, I just love the fans, 17,000 at home [the other day]I have never tried it before and love it, it feels like a family environment.

“Last season, I wasn’t really sure of myself. I think I lost myself a little bit when I was at Salford. But this season I’m more confident in myself. I know what I want and I’m ready to go and get it.”

Wright’s contract with Aston Villa expired at the end of this season, so the current campaign is set to be one of the highlights of his career.

“I’ve been trying to raise my stats last year, it didn’t work my way but this season… I still have ambitions to play for Aston Villa in the Premier League, I only have one season left there so I don’t have time to waste, I need To raise my stats and [the weekend goal] It was a massive confidence booster, in the international hiatus.

“If I’m performing the way I did on the weekend, I don’t know why [I can’t make it at Villa]. I’ve always aimed at the highest levels and I don’t see why I couldn’t get into the first team at the villa and try to impress them.

“I am disappointed not to do that [sign a new contract at Villa] before borrowing. But I’m not surprised because my last season, you know, was kind of a write-off for me because I didn’t perform well, to be honest.

“But this season is a new season and I’m more positive about it. So yeah, we’ll just see what happens.”

But Saturday’s game made a huge impact, as Wright wasn’t exactly accustomed to playing 90 minutes regularly in League Two this season.

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“I got creative after the match. To be honest, I was looking for the bench after 80 minutes. I crashed after that, but I’m so happy to get into camp.”

The prospect of playing under Hughes, a character who had already achieved a lot in the game, was an ultimately important factor in Wright’s choice to join Bradford.

“He got me straight into the group, he gave me time to play, he’s a legend at Manchester United and I grew up a Manchester United fan. It didn’t make sense for me to go to Bradford and work under him, he worked at the highest level, so working under him is a pleasure. .

“The manager played a big role, he managed from the highest level, he managed some outstanding players – for me it was a no-brainer, the football they play too, it was more suitable for me, I was happy that they were interested in me.

“You really can’t ask for more [from Hughes] Honestly. You know that every player wants to feel free when they play and only have the confidence of the coach.
That’s how I feel at Bradford, I couldn’t really thank him enough.”

And what kind of advice or comments did Hughes give him?

“He just says, ‘Go out there and enjoy yourself.’ When I play, I don’t feel any pressure on me, he says get out and express yourself and that’s what I’m trying to do.

“My main objective is to raise my stats, to promote Bradford, that is the ambition of the club, and then just see what the end of the season holds for me.”

Qualifying for a major tournament would definitely be a boost to Wright’s resume. In the coming days, the youngster will be aiming to help Ireland’s Under-21s beat Israel at two feet and secure their first-ever qualification for a major tournament, starting with their meeting at Tallaght Stadium on Friday (start: 7pm).

“It is very important, we have a huge talent [pool] From the players, everyone is ready for the first leg of the first leg and we are just looking forward to it and we will give it our all.

“Wearing the green jersey and making history for the 21 would mean the world to me, everyone here too, and that’s what we’re looking to do and hopefully we can do.”