The Road to Rangers – Scott Wright

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There are a lot of markers that can be pointed to which demonstrate the improvement Rangers have made in recent seasons – the league table being the obvious one. Our improvement on the park has allowed us to be in a position where we do not require wholesale changes and a flood of new additions to the squad this January, something which in a particularly difficult window for all clubs gives Rangers some much needed breathing space. Instead, Gerrard and Wilson can focus on the future, looking to bolster the squad for what will (hopefully) be a defence of the title in season 2021/22 while competing for Champions League qualification and further European success.

That is what makes the addition of Scott Wright so particularly pleasing. Rangers should always be on the lookout for the best young Scottish talent and the Scotland youth international defiantly fits that billing. Having rose through the ranks at Aberdeen, I’m confident he’ll leave with the best wishes of the Dons fans as he takes his next steps and betters his career at a bigger club…

Derek McInnes has spoken on multiple occasions throughout the years on Wright’s ability to ‘light up a game’, but what has made Gerrard and Wilson sit up and take notice and what can Rangers fans expect from the 23-year-old based on his career so far?

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back to the Road to Rangers. Let’s have a look at our new signing.

Aberdeen and Scotland: 1997-2019

Wright was raised local to Aberdeen, raised in the small village of Balmedie in Aberdeenshire. Having grown up just 7.5 miles from Pittodrie and while attending the Bridge of Don Academy and showing real footballing talent as a kid, it was almost inevitable that Aberdeen would look to bring him in through their academy. That eventuality materialised in 2008, as Wright joined with the Aberdeen youth side at the age of 11.

Wrights development continued further in the Aberdonian youth set-up, with convincing performances in the SPFL Youth League landing him a call up to the Scotland U17s side. Wright enjoyed a large degree of success with the national U17s, scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory over Romania as the young Scots completed their U17’s European Championship qualifying campaign with a 100% record.

Wright was on the plane to Malta for the championships in 2014 as Scotland were drawn in Group B alongside Portugal, Germany and Switzerland. After succumbing to a 2-0 defeat to Portugal in the opening game, they realistically needed a win in their second game against Germany to keep their hopes of progression alive. It was Wright who lit the Scottish spark in the tournament as he headed home four minutes before the break to secure a memorable 1-0 win for Scotland and put them within a point of qualification, which they would secure with a 3-1 win over Switzerland in the final group game. The Scots exited the tournament at the Semi-final stage against the Netherlands, where he competed against some of the top young talents in the world such as Ajax academy graduate and Manchester United player Donny Van de Beek. Despite the defeat, it was a memorable journey none the less in which Wright played a crucial role.

Wright celebrates scoring the winner against Germany, 2014
Wright faces off against the Netherlands and Manchester United’s Donny Van de Beek, 2014

Rising through the youth ranks at Aberdeen, Wright signed his first professional contract with the club in 2014. He subsequently made his debut for the first team at the age of 16 as he came on as an 78th minute substitute for Barry Robson in a 5-0 win over Riga in the Europa League first round qualifier. Wright made an instant impact for the side, assisting Adam Rooney who made it 5-0 deep into Injury time. Wright was afforded another opportunity in the second leg, getting a further 10 minutes under his belt as Aberdeen won 3-0. His first domestic senior appearance came on the final day of the season, replacing Mark Reynolds on the 56th minute as Aberdeen lost 1-0 at Pittodrie against St Johnstone.

His next two appearances would also come at home to St Johnstone in the 2015/16 season, coming off the bench twice in a heavy 5-1 defeat and a 1-1 draw, with his first start and full 90 minutes coming in the final day of that same season, playing as a centre-froward, as Aberdeen got hammered by Ross County 4-0 at Pittodrie.

Wright would begin to make his presence in the side felt as a 19-year-old in the final day of the following season. Aberdeen lined up away to Partick Thistle and within 17 minutes Wright had grabbed his first two senior goals for the club and secured the match ball 6 minutes after half time as Aberdeen thumped Thistle 6-0 to end the season with their highest ever top-flight points tally.

Wright is pictured with the match ball after scoring a hattrick on the final day of the season against Partick Thistle, 2017

Derek McInnes was effusive in his praise for Wright, as he said the BBC afterwards:

“Everyday is an opportunity. We just said to Scott go and play the way you’ve been training, which is really positive and the way the game was we managed to get that first pass into him and made it a running game for him and when we can run at people he lights the game up”.

From this point onwards Wright began to establish himself as a first-team regular, starting four out the opening six games of the season for Aberdeen, scoring once again at Firhill, this time from long range, as Aberdeen edged out a 4-3 thriller. His first appearance against Rangers came in a 2-1 win for the teds at Pittodrie, just four days after Rangers thumped Aberdeen 3-0 at Ibrox in 2017, but he was substituted after 52 minutes. That was to prove to be his last start of the season that year, as he flirted between continuing appearances for the youth side and appearances from the bench for the senior side. During this time, Wright was still appearing regularly for the national youth side, having been promoted from the U17s to the U19s where he scored the opening goal in a 2-2 draw with the USA in Germany and then into the U20s and U21s sides respectively.

The following season, Wright featured both games against Burnley in Aberdeen’s Europa League qualifiers and was on the bench for Steven Gerrard’s first league game in charge of Rangers at Pittodrie in 2018. A knee injury then ruled him out until late October, where he returned for a 45-minute appearance in a 2-1 defeat at Tynecastle. In the following game, Wright provided two assists as Aberdeen beat Hamilton 3-0 at Pittodrie.

Dundee: 2019

Despite becoming a first-team regular by January 2019 (Wright had made 13 appearances for the dons by the end of January), he decided to join Dundee on loan until the end of the season with the guarantee of regular starts for the side as they battled relegation. He made an instant impact for the  side, scoring on his debut away to Hamilton to give Dundee the lead, however their hearts were broken as Hamilton equalised in the 91st minute. That impact continued as Dundee travelled to Livingston a fortnight later, where an assist and a 83rd minute winner capped off a MOTM performance as Dundee came from behind to win 2-1.

Wright runs away to celebrate scoring the winner against Livingston for Dundee, 2019

Despite continuing this rich vein of form in the next game as Wright provided two assists, Dundee shipped four at the back and got beaten 4-2 at home to Hibs. This kicked off a run of ten straight defeats and eleven in their final twelve matches for Dundee as they fell to the bottom of the table and were relegated to the Championship. Overall though, this was Wright’s best sustained period in terms of numerical output with his goals and assists, managing 7 direct goal contributions in 13 appearances.

Return to Aberdeen: 2019

Wright celebrates scoring the fourth goal for Aberdeen against Chikhura at Pittodrie, 2019

Wright returned to Aberdeen and scored his first European goal in the 2nd qualifying round for the Europa League as Aberdeen beat Chikhura 5-0 at Pittodrie, with Wright scoring the fourth goal just two minutes after coming off the bench. Wright featured in three out of Aberdeen’s first four league games, starting two of them, before a rupture in his cruciate ligament in September ruled him out for the rest of the season. Speaking about Wright’s Injury, McInnes said at the time:

“It wasn’t even a tackle, he just hurt it running the other day. He will be fine longer term. He will go for surgery and we’ll know more about that next week. Scott is the kind of player who can light up a game, he is maturing, and we had spoken to him about playing more centrally. He is a capable player for us at this level so it’s very disappointing”.

To add insult to injury, Wright was just getting himself back to full fitness when football across the UK was stopped as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, therefore making Wright go through almost an entire calendar year before he was able to play football again. He made his return to action in the second game of this season, starting against St Johnstone and lasting 83 minutes. In the following game, Wright found the net again as he scored the second goal and eventual winner in a 2-1 win over Livingston. He managed two goals and two assists in the lead up to November (featuring in every game for Aberdeen) before an Inguinal Hernia ruled him out until the beginning of 2021 where he made his return against Dundee Utd and managing 58 minutes in Rangers 2-1 win at Pittodrie earlier this month.

At the time of writing, it remains to be seen if Wright will make the move to Rangers in this window or will stay with Aberdeen until the end of the season. What is known is he has the ability, according to McInnes, to ‘light up a game’, a quality Rangers should always be on the look-out for. Its safe to say Rangers have managed to grab a talented prospect in Wright and we can be excited to see what he can add to the squad over the coming years.

Twitter: @rsjh0501

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