Billy Wright (6 February 1924 - 3 September 1994), a player described as a national treasure' by The Times in 1959, was in his lifetime an institution at the heart of the England team and, with 105 caps, including a record 90 as captain, currently stands as the nation's fifth most capped player of all time.
Wright, who started his career as a striker before moving to right-back (and, later, centre-back), was the first ever player to win 100 caps for his country, and to this day holds the record for the most consecutive appearances for England: 70, between 03/10/1951 and 28/05/1959.
At just 5 ft 8 fully-grown, a young Wright was told that he was too small to ever succeed in professional football. Undeterred, he persevered, and convinced Wolverhampton Wanderers, his only club, to afford him a second chance. Wright proved a revelation after the war, and in 1947 was appointed club captain - a position he would hold until retiring in 1959.
Despite his diminutive size, Wright was a physical presence, possessing a tremendous jump, reasonable pace and strength in the tackle. Legendary England winger Tom Finney would refer to his team-mate as "Mr Dynamo", a tribute to the amount of running he did during a game.
Consistency would also prove a hallmark of Wright's professional career. " I rate Billy as a challenger for the title of the most consistent centre-half ever to play for England", Finney once remarked. Indeed, throughout the entire 1950s, Wright missed just 31 games for Wolves, winning Footballer of the Year in 1952.
"Billy had a heart of oak and was the most reliable of men," Walter Winterbottom, his England manager said. "He was a team player who never tried to seek personal glory. He turned simplicity into an art form."
Wright was an extremely intelligent defender, unflappably calm and precise in the tackle. During a total of 541 appearances for Wolves and 105 for England, his disciplinary record was second to none â ” he was never cautioned or sent off by any referee.
He led Wolves to three First Division titles as well as an FA Cup and was idolised nationwide, but Wright remained a humble man: "I only had two things on my mind as a player," he once said, "to win the ball and then to give the simplest pass I could to the nearest team-mate."
Club Wolverhampton Wanderers First Division: 1954, 1958, 1959 FA Cup: 1949
Couldn't find any video evidence so did a lot of reading and produced the above. Here's some of my reasoning if anyone wants to discuss:
Era: 1954-1958; Position: CB*, SB
Played as a right-back for England until about 1954 when he was switched to the centre for the World Cup. It proved an inspired decision and what followed were his best years in an England jersey - some considered him the best defender of the 1958 World Cup.
Defence at 90 and *sliding because he was said to be an excellent all-round defender, very good in the tackle and, remarkably, was never booked in almost 650 career appearances.
Response at 91 and *covering because he was known for being "unflappably calm" and a very intelligent CB.
As for *marking and *D-line, I think some other opinions would be useful.
Gave him *marking because of all the reports of his intelligence as a defender, and how well he would do against top forwards, so it would make sense that he knew how/when to track a man as well as anyone. But not 100% sure.
Same with *D-line. Offside traps weren't as prevalent in his time as they are today but then again he would always have been the man in the middle that everyone looked to - captain's armband and all. Everyone said he was a presence on the pitch, so I imagine if anyone would control the back line he would.
Attack; Shot Accuracy; Shot Technique
Played as a striker towards the beginning of his career before much later establishing himself as the out-and-out CB we all remember. Have as such given him slightly higher stats than most CBs in the above three attributes.
Balance at 88 because he was said to be strong despite his size and crunching in the tackle. I think given his height and weight in conjunction with those reports, he can justify a high value such as this.
Stamina at 88 because he was renowned for covering a huge amount of ground during a game - even earned the nickname "Mr Dynamo." Mentality really high because of this too.
Speed and acceleration I gave modestly high values because he was said to have "lost his pace" at the end of his career, yet when people talk about his prime, no great speed is ever mentioned. I imagine then that he wasn't slow but similarly wasn't fast enough for it to be a talking point.
Jump at 95 because it was the attribute that kept coming up when I read about him. Said to have got tremendous height to make himself a presence in the air despite being just 5 ft 8.
He was not a great technician or distributor of the ball but he would say of himself that he always looked to offload the ball quickly with a short pass on receiving it. Later in his career it is said he developed a reasonably incisive passing ability from the back and "could make time for himself on the ball." Hence the tidy stats for short passing and dribble acc, plus a high teamwork rating.
Injury tolerance and condition both maxed out: he played 70 consecutive games for England and was a mainstay in the Wolves defence (missed just 31 games for them during the entirety of the 1950s). Consistency at the very top too, said by Tom Finney to be arguably Englands most consistent ever CB.