Illness ruined my dreams of playing for Wolves... now they’ll play for me
Daniel Wright was looking forward to a glittering career as a Premiership footballer.
The Lurgan teenager, a promising goalkeeper, had been signed by Wolverhampton Wanderers from Glenavon when he was just 16.
Daniel was on a tour with Wolves in Sweden when his world fell apart.
During a game last year he suffered chest pains. The condition reappeared when he made his first team debut in a pre-season friendly against Port Vale.
Following medical tests he was advised that it would be too risky to continue playing because of an irregular heartbeat.
The young man was devastated by the diagnosis, but has vowed to move on, now turning his attention to the coaching side of the game.
With a defibrillator now fitted in his chest the inspirational teenager is keen to remain involved in football.
Impressed with Daniel’s spirit, Glenavon and Wolves have teamed up to host a benefit match for him at Mourneview Park next Saturday.
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy said: “Daniel is a fantastic lad — not to mention a very good goalkeeper — and it was such a shame that he was unable to pursue his dream of a career in the game. Everyone at Wolves shared his disappointment, but given the character that he is, we all know he will be a success in whatever he does in the future.
“Unfortunately I can’t be there, as we will be elsewhere with the first team, but it’s great that our development team — many of whom know Daniel very well — will be taking on Glenavon in his benefit game. I’ll be sending Daniel my best wishes and I am sure he’ll have a great day.”
Daniel, now 18, will take to the field for a short time during the match. “I’m looking forward to the day. It will be great to play again with old team-mates, even if it is just for a wee while. The last year or so has been hard going, trying to get over the news. It has been challenging as I have played football all my life. I’m just lucky that I have had wonderful support from family and friends.”
Of his plans for the future, Daniel is remaining optimistic. “I am finishing my coaching badges for Wolves and I am staring a sports coaching course at UU at Jordanstown this September. I know I will never be able to play full-time, but I am hopeful that I might be able to play a bit.”
Daniel’s family are proud of his achievements in the face of adversity. Mother Helen said: “We know how fortunate we are that Daniel is still with us. Football has always been his whole desire in life and we are so proud of how he just takes all this in his stride. It’s been a very frustrating year for the family and I admire the tremendous attitude Daniel has displayed. We are extremely excited about the match on the 17th, it will be a fantastic day.”
Chairman of Glenavon Adrian Teer said: “It is a marvellous and very much appreciated gesture on the part of the English Premiership club. Young Daniel fully deserves to have the game well supported, and certainly everyone at Glenavon Football Club hopes that it will be.”