(Mike Lawrence / Sportsday Wire)
Shaun Wright-Phillips is set to start his first season with the New York Red Bulls, alongside his brother Bradley. Their father is legendary English football star Ian Wright.
The story of how he joined the Red Bulls last summer is a unique one.
Shaun, 34, was in the New York area for Bradley’s wedding in early June, right after the English Premier League season ended.
After Bradley’s wedding, Shaun stayed in the States and started training with the Red Bulls. Shaun’s club, Queens Park Rangers, did not offer him a new contract and he was a free agent.
When it became clear he liked playing here with his brother and the rest of the Red Bulls, Shaun officially signed with them on July 27, 2015.
Wright-Phillips played in 12 games, one of which was a start, scored one goal and an assist. In his debut, on August 1 vs. Philadelphia, he drew a penalty and had an assist. He played in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against D.C. United, but exited in the 83rd minute due to a hamstring injury. That wasn’t it for his season, as he returned to play eight minutes in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. Columbus.
Shaun Wright-Phillips was at Red Bulls Media Day on Wednesday and said of training camp with his brother, “My first one, it was pretty cool. I had a recurring problem with the hamstring that I suffered from last year. It was just nice being around the camp with everybody, having a preseason feel.”
Bradley, 30 years old, said of having training camp with Shaun, 34, “It was good, I think he needed it. It’s tough, in 2013, I came the same time as he did, in the summer, it’s hard to adjust to everything, new team, new friends, and then finding a place to live, and I feel like he dealt with that well. He got a goal, couple assists, and I mean he had the injury like I did, so I’m excited to see what happens now. He still has a little injury, but he has a preseason behind him and he can start like the rest of us, so it’ll be good to see how he turns out.”
Bradley said of how Shaun is adjusting to playing in the United States, “He’s adjusted now, he’s got his place, he’s settled in, and he’ll be looking forward to start this season. I’m excited to see what he brings this team because, obviously, talent-wise, he’s one of the best. He’s done more than any of us on this team, and we look to him to provide us with some good moments this season.”
Shaun said of his brother, “We’ve never really had a rivalry. We’ve always just kind of helped each other through our tough times in football. You’re not always going to have a good run in football. Sometimes, it’s bad, sometimes it’s good, and it’s just how you deal with the bad moments that, I think, kind of make the person you are on and off the pitch, so we’ve always had each other and that concern and we still have each other now.”
Bradley said of how much they help each other, “It’s hard to put into words, I wouldn’t know how to weigh it out. I think now we’re both the players we want to be, so there’s not really anything to help, and I’m sure if he saw me in a situation that he didn’t like, he would just do his big brother genes. As far it goes with helping each other, it doesn’t really work like that, it’s tough to explain.”
Bradley said of his first memories of playing with Shaun, “Very early, I wouldn’t know what age, but very early. We used to play football where we grew up all the time. I played on his team a few times. When I was growing up, I was close to his manager, and I played a few matches.Every since I can remember, me and Shaun have been playing football. He’s always been nice, great big brother.”
Shaun said of which professional team they played on before the Red Bulls, “It was at Manchester City, he made his debut at Manchester City with me, which was a nice experience for me and, once again, it’s lovely to have a chance to play with him again.”
Shaun said of his role this season, whether he’ll be starting or coming off the bench, “As you know, we’ve got a lot of players. There’s two players for every positions, so I imagine there should be some form of team rotation and I just want to play the biggest part with the club, help, create, score goals, and defend.”
On his hamstring injury, Shaun said, “I’ve been back at training for two weeks, plus I played some of the friendly games on the weekend in Jacksonville and I’ve come out of it with no problems, so everything’s looking very positive at the moment.”
Shaun said of any particular matchups he is looking forward to this season, “As a club, we’re going to take every game game-by-game. We’ve got a fantastic group of players here, the roster for me is full of talent. We might not have all the big names everybody else has, but with the talent we have and the togetherness, and the fight, and the hunger that we have, it could take us a long way again.”
On what it’s like playing for Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch, Shaun said, “I think he’s an amazing manager. I came in here, he showed me a different style of play. It’s nice to always be able to keep learning and I appreciate what ideas other people can bring to the game as a player and a coach.”
Shaun played at Chelsea for Manager Jose Mourinho from 2005 to 2007. Mourinho returned to Chelsea in 2013, helped them win the English Premier League title in the 2014-15 season, and was sacked this past December after a dreadful start to this season.
Wright-Phillips said of observing what went on there this season, “For me, you say what went on, he can only build the players. The tactics that Mourinho, what he did was with pretty much the same team that won the title the year before, so it’s hard to see where it went wrong. I say, in football, that happens sometimes, like for example, Man. United, until the middle of the season, they were down there as well. It’s just sometimes, you lose timing and it’s hard to get out of, especially when you’re used to always winning.”
On if he could ever see Mourinho coaching in the United States, Shaun said, “I would love to see him coaching here, but I don’t know. I would love to have him and his personality coach one day in America, but I think he still has a lot of goals that he would like to achieve in Europe.”