If one player ever encapsulated the prestige, honor and sacrifice that being a one club man, then few could match the career of Billy Wright. Like Dean and Matthews, he set standards and records without batting an eyelid. In these modern days of superstar footballers, loathed and loved in equal measure, Wright personifies a halcyon era when respect and honor went hand in hand. Universally loved around the country, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house for his final match.
Wright was another of the great stars of English football, whose career, whilst magnificent, could have been even greater if it were not for the outbreak of World War II. Given his first team debut in 1939 at only 15 years of age and he signed a full time contract in 1941, but as with all league football at the time, it would be another 5 years before he pulled on the old gold and black kit and became enshrined in a unmatched period of success for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It had been his performances throughout the war that brought him to the attention of both the F.A and Wolves and his career took off immediately after he had been de-mobbed from the Army in 1946. He’d been a Physical Education Instructor as well as playing representative games and had earned a reputation as one of the best defenders in the world. He was joining a side that had closed the two seasons prior to the outbreak of war finishing as runners up in the First Division and also lost the F.A Cup final to Portsmouth in 1939.
That first full season for Wolves saw them once again miss out on the title by losing the last match of the season, but the next 14 years would cement Wolves as one of the top sides in England. Wright replaced the Wolves captain Stan Cullis after he retired in 1947 and one year later Cullis returned to Wolves to become the new manager. The relationship between manager and captain became a period of unparalleled success and they captured the F.A Cup together in 1949.
By now Wright has become England captain as well and held the position in every remaining game he ever played for his country. During the next ten years Wright would lead Wolves to 3 league titles, 3 runners up places and 3 third places as Wolves became synonymous with footballing success. Along with Manchester United, they were the team of post war Britain and it often came down to which of the two would hold their nerves the longest.