A random drugs test was a wake-up call to give up drugs and focus on the football

By Ian Wright, him self for The Sun.

NOT long after I’d got myself into the first team at Palace at 21 I came far too close to throwing it all away, when the drug testers came to our game against West Brom.

Ian Wright
Ian Wright of Crystal Palace, circa 1986. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

I’d been smoking weed since I was about 17, not in a smoke-myself-into-uselessness type of way and I wasn’t worried about becoming an addict.

I was like the guy who enjoys a few drinks now and again but is nowhere near being an alcoholic.

As a kid I preferred smoking to drinking when I went out. I’d been around weed smokers from a very early age, and recently it had become something of an end-of-the-week ritual. It hadn’t even occurred to me I was doing anything wrong .

It didn’t even dawn on me that I was doing anything wrong.

We beat WBA 4-1 that Saturday, the whole team came into the dressing room still excited and then the drug testers arrived.

It’s the first time I’d ever seen them and I panicked inside – I’ve been smoking cannabis, less than 24 hours earlier, and if that test comes back positive that’s it. It is literally all over for me.

I’m practically paralysed while trying to act unconcerned. The guy says: “Drug test, number nine.” Mark Bright.

I’m sure he’s going to call my number next, number ten. He calls, “Drug test, number 11.” Phil Barber.

I sit down – more or less collapse – and think, “Somebody’s looking out for me, now I know it!”

What hit me the most is how much I would have been letting people from my area down.

If I had got caught on that drugs test it would have been beyond them, they just wouldn’t have understood it: ‘What?! You got into Crystal Palace and you didn’t stop smoking weed?”

From that day to this I never smoked a spliff again.

I was never addicted to it and never thought it was causing me problems – but the random drugs test showed me the kind of trouble it would cause if I carried on.

Ian Wright burglary
File photo dated 17/05/2014 of former England international and ITV soccer pundit Ian Wright, who is understood to have flown home from Brazil after his wife and children were burgled at knifepoint in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday June 19, 2014. See PA story POLICE Wright. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire