When Kevin Wright was released by Chelsea after eleven years with the London club it looked like his top flight football dream was over. Now two years on, he is playing some of the best football of his life and more determined than ever before.
“I will play in the top division in Sweden before I come back home to play in a good team in England.”
They are the defiant words from a 22-year-old who trained with the very best during his time at Chelsea. Now playing in the Swedish second tier after a spell in Norway, the defender can still remember what it was like to be based at the Blues’s Cobham Training Centre.
“It was a very good experience, just being in the environment was very inspiring and motivates you every day to get to the top level.
“When I was in secondary school when we got off the train we use to walk by the first team’s car park, we use to see amazing cars and that used to make us hungry as we wanted to get to that level.”
During his time with Chelsea, he progressed through the ranks, being a regular at under-18 level and playing in the NextGen and UEFA Youth League tournaments. Despite his eventual release, Wright is still thankful for the experience.
“Chelsea have some of the best coaches and facilities and is very professional so gives you all the chance get to the top level,” he says. “Signing my full-time scholarship was the best contract I have signed as I worked so hard to get it.
“I trained with the first team a few times which was also a great experience as you are around world class players but also an eye opener as you realise to become a professional is achievable.”
After leaving the Premier League behind in the summer of 2016, the defender from Essex had a brief spell in League Two with Carlisle United. After making just three appearances, he decided to look further afield for his next move and signed for second-tier Norwegian side Fredrikstad, the club who fellow Englishman Netan Sansara had previously spent two years with.
“As I’m a person who likes new experiences I was always open to playing abroad. I also felt I could get some experience and come back to England when I’m a bit older and secure.
“The move came about as I knew an agent from Sweden and the manager was looking for a left back so watched a few of my games and was interested in me.”
Wright had no problem adapting to the move. Although it was his first time playing abroad, his time back closer to home with Chelsea had prepared him for such a move.
“I am a independent person,” he says. “After I left school when I was 16 I moved away from home to Surrey to play for Chelsea so I am use to being on my own and doing things for myself.
“It was quite easy to settle as they were very friendly and sorted me out with a nice apartment.”
Although he found it easy to settle in in Norway, the defender would not have long to enjoy his new home as he was soon on the move again. After making five league appearances for Fredrikstad, he started to find game time harder to come by so joined Swedish second division side Degerfors.
After making eight appearances in what was left of the 2017 season, Wright had impressed his new bosses enough to make the deal permanent for the 2018 season, something that he was more than happy to do.
“I was very happy to make the permanent move to Degerfors as I feel it was the perfect club for me at this stage of my career. At my age the most important thing is playing consistently which this club could offer me.
“It is a club that I can express myself in and has a lot of opportunity for first team games. I can work on myself and will definitely come back to England a much better player.
“As I’m in the countryside as well it can be quite boring but also gives me an opportunity to grind and become the best footballer I can be.”
The permanent move certainly seems to have been an ideal move for Wright who has started all eleven league games so far this season and has even scored his first senior goal.
After his personally very impressive start to the season, the 22-year-old is full of praise for the football he has experienced in Scandinavia.
“Football is football whether you’re in England or not the fundamentals are the same but you have to be good on the ball and have good fitness in order to do well in Sweden.
“Sweden and Norway have many good players and teams and it’s a professional set up. You just need to look at a team like Östersunds who played and beat Arsenal in the Europa League. That shows it is a good standard.”
Wright certainly knows a good player when he sees one as well, a quick look at the players he has trained alongside confirms that.
“That’s a very tough question [when answering who the best player he has played with is] so I’m going to name four players that I know will have good careers. Charlie Colkett has one of the best left foots I’ve seen, Charly Musonda and Jeremie Boga are the best dribblers I have played with and finally Ruben Loftus-Cheek is an all round quality player.”
With his attention switched back to the present and beyond, the left-back is currently focusing on earning promotion with Degerfors but also has a clear plan laid out for the rest of his career as he says he hopes to end his career in America or playing in Dubai.
If that does happen, he will certainly deserve the move. Despite only being 22, he has fought as hard as any other to ensure his release from Chelsea wasn’t the end of his career. You have to commend him for the gamble he has taken by playing abroad and don’t be surprised to see him bossing it from left back back in England anytime soon.