Great Britain

I’m A Celebrity star Ian Wright secretly shelled out on football kits for kids at his old primary school

BIG-HEARTED jungle star Ian Wright secretly shelled out on a new football kit for kids at his old primary school.

The former Arsenal striker, 56, visited his former classroom last month before heading to Australia to unveil a commemorative plaque dedicated to his former teacher, Mr Sydney Pigden.

But during the trip to Turnham Academy, in Brockley, South London, the ex-England man discovered that the kids were playing matches in makeshift gear.

While being shown around the school, he said: “Hang on, the school I went to hasn’t got a football kit? That ain’t right!”

He then shelled out on an Adidas strip, including shirts, shorts and socks for the youngsters.

Generous Ian also bought goalie gloves for the keepers too.

A source said: “Ian couldn’t believe the school that gave him his football education didn’t have a proper kit for the boys and girls to play in so he doesn’t to make that right.

“He is involved in various charities quietly behind the scenes, but he’s not one to shout about it. The kids and teachers were delighted, as was Ian. He loves giving back.”

During the school visit, the Turnham Academy football team took on a penalty shootout with Ian playing manager, giving the pupils tips on how best to score against the school’s goalkeeper.

Ian, who capped 33 times for his country, was visiting his old stomping ground to honour his late headteacher Mr Pigden, who he credits for putting him on “the straight and narrow” and turning him towards football glory.

In Ian’s autobiography A Life In Football, which he dedicated to his late mentor, he said: “When I was about six, that’s when I met Mr Pigden, who not only gave me my first football coaching but was a fantastic teacher and became a real mentor to me. I can honestly say that if he hadn’t worked to put me on the straight and narrow, I wouldn’t be the person I turned out to be.”

Mr Pidgen survived more than 100 ground-attack sorties with No. 164 Squadron RAF Argentine-British, when flying Hawker Hurricane and Typhoon rocket-armed aircraft during the war.

Footage of Ian being reunited with Mr Pigden went viral having not seen him for 24 years – with the England man believing he had already passed away.

Ian broke down in tears, took off his hat and exclaimed: “You’re alive!” before embracing his mentor.

Mr Pigden died in 2017 aged 92 but said that even though he took part in the Battle of Britain flypast over Buckingham Palace at the end of the war seeing Ian play football for England was his proudest moment.

The plaque, unveiled by Wrighty, reads: “In Recognition of Sydney Charles Pigden for his dedicated service to the Lewisham community: WW2 Spitfire pilot, Teacher at Turnham school, Secretary Lewisham Primary Schools Football Association & Sports Coach and Mentor."

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