Wright: I’ll emulate my hero Eto’o

Nicknames are an integral part of
Caribbean culture. Most people have one, often two and even three.

Roma United midfielder Dwayne
Wright is best known as ‘Gaza’ here, but in his Jamaican homeland he was always
‘Eto’o’ after the brilliant Inter Milan forward Samuel Eto’o.

Since starting playing football
seriously at 15 everyone has likened his fast, skilful style to the Cameroonian
maestro.

It stuck right the way through
until he arrived in George Town a year ago and joined Roma. Team-mates realised
he loved dancehall star Vybz ‘Gaza’ Kartel’s material so much, it became his
new, reluctant name.

Used to Gaza now, Wright wants to
revert back to Eto’o and try to achieve something like the success of his idol.

At 21, blessed with a sweet left
peg, cannon-like shot and an abundance of skill, Wright is anxious to reach a
higher level than Cayman’s Premier League.

Wright also thinks he can do as
well as Jamaica’s national captain Ricardo Gardner, another left-footer, who
has spent 12 successful years at Bolton Wanderers.

Despite a niggling groin injury
since November, Wright is Roma’s top scorer with 14 goals. (He’s actually
scored 16 but two didn’t count because the match against Elite at the Ed Bush
stadium was abandoned.)

 He could have left struggling Roma in the
January transfer window but loyalty and wanting to keep them in the top flight
prevented him from moving on.

An automatic choice for Jamaica’s
Premier League side Waterhouse before reaching here, he has his sights set on
the English version eventually.

He trains every day and although
works for KFC his 6ft 1in frame is a lean 165 pounds so there is no fear from
his employers that he’s eating into their profits.

Roma officials are grateful for
Wright’s input. President Bobby Sairsingh says: “Wright has made a very big
impact on the team and club. He’s youthful, has good skills and an uncanny
ability to put the ball away. Most of his goals are excellent. One spectacular
one I remember was against Elite.

“With his level of skills I think
the sky’s the limit. In the right environment he can improve greatly.”

Player-coach Phil Gayle says: “As
long as he adjusts himself he’ll do well because he is very skilful.”

Roma vice-president Mark Campbell
says: “Dwayne is definitely an asset to any club and team. He has good
technique and is a young, promising player who is so dedicated that he trains
by himself as well as with the team.

“He has the attributes to get to a
high level and would definitely be able to survive in the pro ranks. We don’t
like to hang to players who have higher aspirations so would not be surprised
if he moved on.”

Born in Kingston, in January 1989,
Wright moved to Portmore aged five. Football was an obsession from the moment a
ball touched his feet.

Not a bad
kid, he nevertheless lost count of the number of licks he got for playing
football and dirtying his school uniform, sneaking out for matches without
permission and getting home late. It was all worth it, as far as he is
concerned.

At 15 he excelled for local sides
Passagefort and Ascot and was picked to represent his St. Catherine parish who
won the island-wide championship.  

Wright’s early development he
attributes to his coach for the first four years, Kenneth ‘Lick Hot’ Anderson.
That nickname stems from when reprimanding a kid he was not averse using to
resorting to a hot lick.

At 16 Wright was playing in
Jamaica’s Super League, the next one down to the Prem, for Dunbeholden and
holding his own against seasoned players.

Before joining Waterhouse he was at
Naggo Head. In Waterhouse’s Under-21 side, he played left wing making plenty of
crosses and providing numerous assists.

Throughout his development in
Jamaica, Kirk Ramsey, the respected player was Eto’o’s mentor. They are still
in regular touch today.

“Kirk always instilled in me that
anything I put my mind to I can do it,” says Wright. Another inspiration was
his cousin Ramon Stewart who modelled himself on Chelsea hard man Michael
Essien.

Having grown up with his father,
Devon Wright, Dwayne yearned to get to know his mother Winsome Morrison better
so decided to come to Cayman and joined her and his four half-brothers and
sisters.

“Someone from Elite saw me
practicing and invited me to join them. But they were a winning team and I
wanted more of a challenge.” So he plumped for Roma.

Despite their lowly position and a
temptation to move on, Wright decided to stay mainly because team-mate Adrian
Dawkins pleaded with him not to go.

Wright’s goal haul is the third
best in the league. Only Tex Whitelocke (George Town) and Fabian Malcolm (Scholars
and George Town) have scored more.

Totally disciplined and dedicated,
Wright has only been booked once in all his time in football. That was this
season when he was supposed to have feigned injury after being crunched by two
opponents coming in separate directions. Yet the ref called for medical attention
as Wright writhed in agony on the floor!

“I believe in good sportsmanship. I
give what football deserves: respect,” he says. Wright by name and right by
nature.

He’s made a mental note of the
antics of bad boys of the Premiership, past and present, like Paolo Di Canio,
Robbie Savage and El Hadj Diouf and is not going to copy.

Manchester United is the English
team he admires most. “I like the way they use their wingers Nani and Valencia
and I liken my style to Nasri of Arsenal.”

But it is a certain striker who
remains firm favourite. Even his email address starts: etoo. “When I make it as
a pro, I’m always going to wear a shirt with Eto’o’s image under my jersey.

“But I won’t take my top off,
because I’m not interested in getting another yellow card.”

SPORTwrightSTORY

Wright is one of the most skilful players to come out of Jamaica.
Photo: Ron Shillingford
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