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Tyreik Wright: 'I haven't been home to Cork in 2 years'

Ireland U21 international Tyreik Wright on the challenges of being a professional footballer.

Tyreik Wright pictured playing for Ireland U21s.
Tyreik Wright pictured playing for Ireland U21s.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated Mar 25th 2022, 8:31 AM

MOST OF Ireland U21 international Tyreik Wright’s family are Man United supporters, though his grandfather is a big Liverpool fan.

The 20-year-old winger is currently on loan with League Two side Colchester from parent club Aston Villa.

It just so happens that Reds icon Steven Gerrard has recently taken charge of the Premier League side, and so inevitably, there has been no shortage of queries from grandad.

“He keeps asking me questions about him but I’m not even there, I can’t answer,” Wright smiles.

The youngster also happens to be from the same area of Cork, Ovens, as the late former Red Devils player, Liam Miller.

“I wouldn’t say I came across him but I know his son and stuff, my uncle is best friends with him, they grew up together. I went around to see his mum when he died, but I never knew him personally.  

“What he achieved in his career, played senior for Ireland, Manchester United, the team I support… But around there, it’s all Gaelic football and hurling.”

So naturally, soccer wasn’t the only sport Wright played growing up.

“I played Gaelic football [with Éire Óg], I loved it, I wanted to be a Gaelic footballer more than a footballer, the hurling wasn’t for me at all. It was U12s, before the Kennedy Cup, that’s when I gave it up.”

He also competed in athletics with another Irish star of the future and fellow Corkonian, Adam Idah.

“We did literally everything, long jump, sprinting, shot putt. He was the best at sprinting and long jump as well, I just tagged along.

“We’re both busy people, we check in every now and then.

“I am very proud of him and what he’s achieved in his career so far. I wish him nothing but the best.”

While Wright treasures these childhood memories, he has quickly discovered the reality of life as a professional athlete, which has its ups and downs.

He enjoyed a stint on loan at Walsall in what was his first taste of regular senior football last season.

The year was marred, however, by an incident in which Villa reported to West Midlands police “sickening and abhorrent” racist abuse aimed at Wright online.

“To be honest, I haven’t thought about it [since] really,” he says. “You just have to move on from these things, otherwise if you dwell on it too much it can affect your performance on the pitch. I don’t really take any notice of it. They are arrogant, uneducated people.”

At the start of this campaign, he had a choice of Tranmere, Colchester and Salford, and opted for the latter initially.

The loan proved unsuccessful, however, and he subsequently switched to Colchester midway through the season.

“I played against [Salford] at Walsall, I knew what they were about and their ambition. It was a risk to go there and it never worked out, I didn’t get game time. 

“At Salford, I was in the team for a while and then international duty came along, players took their chance when I was away and I never got a sniff after that. It’s all part of the game.”

His spell at Colchester has been more positive, he explains.

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“I’m enjoying it more than my last loan, to be honest. I’m getting more game-time, which is what I wanted. At Salford, it just never happened. We are not in the best position at the moment, but it’s all about experience really and avoiding relegation. It’s not a place I have been before.”

Not that it has been entirely without setbacks though, while a goal early on in his spell there against Carlisle has been among the high points.

“I was a bit disappointed, I came on, scored, and then the next game I didn’t play. It’s been playing, not playing, you just have to deal with it and we’re not in the best position in the league so I can understand it from a certain point of view. I feel like I need to be playing games to help the team. We’re only seven points clear and teams have games in hand on us, but hopefully, we won’t get relegated.

“Being at Colchester, I am enjoying it a lot more and I feel like myself again.”

Wright has another year left on his Villa contract and remains hopeful of breaking into the first team while acknowledging there is more work needed. When asked specifically what he has to do, he says: “Just end-product, really. That’s something I know myself that I need to improve — getting more goals and assists from open play.”

He admits it is not always easy to retain an optimistic outlook in the ruthless world of professional sport.

“I lean on my mum, my sister and my agent, I speak to them a lot about my future, what I want to do. When I was on loan at Salford I lost myself a bit, but ever since going to Colchester, I had a chat with myself about what I really want in the future, how bad I want it.

“I haven’t been home to Cork in two years, I was missing family a lot, there have been family problems, but you have to deal with it. Most of it was game time, I feel like I should be playing every game but it didn’t go that way and you move on. It was difficult, there were times I was on the phone, not crying but upset, to my mum. She came over this week to see how I was and she was at my game on Monday — seeing family helps a lot.

“I feel more confident when I am on the pitch [the more games I play], I remember when I first went on loan I didn’t know what to expect, I was nervous before games. But I know what it takes now to be in the league and I am enjoying every minute of it.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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