NEW YORK — After a playing career that concluded with former Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba at Phoenix Rising of the USL, Shaun Wright-Phillips is now happily celebrating the treble of another prior team — Manchester City FC.
The 37-year-old son of Arsenal legend Ian Wright and brother to New York Red Bulls talisman Bradley Wright-Phillips, SWP will showcase the hardware in San Diego for the 2019 Manchester City Cup.
“I don’t think I can carry all of them, but I’ll give it a good go,” said Phillips, a former teammate with his brother at New York Red Bulls.
Security guards are providing the transport of the Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup trophies to the youth event that features an elite group of both domestic and international youth teams. The former England international played in 153 matches between 1999 and 2005 for Manchester City and another 64 appearances from 2008 to ’11 – with a three-season stint at rival Chelsea FC in between.
He was at Wembley when City became the first English men’s side to win three domestic competitions in a single season.
“It was great to be there and witness history,” said Phillips, who tallied 47 goals for City.
It was not that long ago, the 2001-02 season, that Manchester City was a second-division side. The club reached its first major final in 35 years – a 1-0 victory over Stoke City in the 2011 FA Cup final – in SWP’s last season with the club.
“To see the movement forward and the patience they’ve had in building has been rewarding,” SWP said.
Equally satisfying to SWP is the growth of the England men’s national team under manager Gareth Southgate.
“It was great to see the improvement and the way England are playing,” Wright-Phillips said. “When I was coming through sometimes we had a round box put in square places. Nothing ever fit well where as now I think everyone is in the right position and the right places. Everyone is playing at the highest level when the competition comes.”
With 36 caps and six goals for the Three Lions, Wright-Phillips has been especially impressed with a pair of players who share his passion for attacking soccer.
“The guy that stand out for me is obviously Raheem Sterling because with everything he’s gone through he’s still performing at the highest level,” SWP said. “[Ruben] Loftus-Cheek is a great inspiration for kids, also. He’s had it tough. He went on loan to Crystal Palace and done really well there. He went to the World Cup and when he came on England looked a bit better with him on the pitch. Then he comes back to Chelsea and doesn’t play but he keeps his head up and keeps working hard and every time he gets his chance he does really well.”
Sterling has flourished at Manchester City while Loftus-Cheek has been a member of the Chelsea FC system since the age of 8 and was part of Southgate’s side at the Russia World Cup in 2018.
There also is a 16-year-old on the rise at Manchester City, currently playing with the U-18s: SWP’s son, D’Margio Wright-Phillips.
“He’ll tell me what he thinks and I’ll either agree with him or disagree with him and tell him what I think,” SWP said. “At the end of the day, it’s easy from the outside to say you should do this, you should do that. When you walk across the white line, things happen a lot quicker than that. It’s not really that easy. The better they get at that comes with age and maturity.”
And how do the three generations of this soccer family interact?
“There’s always time for other stuff — the other stuff comes before football,” SWP said. “Of course we talk about football but only when it’s needed. Our bonding time is our bonding time when we’re just brother, son, dad and grandad.”
The Manchester City Cup is a U-12/14 event in Oceanside, San Diego County, with nine MLS clubs represented, including New York City FC.