SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Sockers will honor Paul Wright Sunday when the team officially retires his number three jersey. Wright played 10 seasons with the Sockers and becomes just the seventh player in franchise history to have his number raised to the rafters – something he calls a dream come true.
Wright stepped onto the San Diego Sockers pitch nearly 30 years ago with the vision to one day have his number three jersey retired — once a dream turned into reality.
“As a young man coming into there, I would always look up into the rafters and hope that one day that would happen and work towards that but that’s just something that’s unbelievable once it’s here and it’s just more overwhelming than I ever thought it would be,” Wright said.
Wright chose the number three to honor the address of his family home in England. Coming to the United States, Wright says it was important to him to remember where he came from.
“Coaches battled with me sometimes to wear different numbers, but that’s the number that I’ve always worn and that’s brought me the best luck and so now it’s going up there in the rafters and I just couldn’t be happier,” said Wright.
The Englishman was selected after a vote by fans, alumni, media and current players. He spent 18 years playing with eight different Major Indoor Soccer League teams but signed with the Sockers four separate times, calling the franchise and the city his home.
“A lot of cities, a lot of countries,” he said. “I played over in England, Kansas City with the MLS and a lot of places with indoor but I’ve always come back to San Diego. I always knew San Diego was going to be my home.”
Wright scored 435 goals, recorded 421 assists in more than 600 games in his career, which included seven championships with the Sockers — a feat he remembers well.
“Just dominating, winning championship after championship,” he said. “Just the brand, the soccer and imposing it all over the country, everywhere we went, we were feared. Everyone was trying to beat us, we were the top dog.”
After he retired in 2013, Wright started Speed To Burn, an elite performance school that focuses on speed and agility training in all sports at any level.
“I’m just really into developing athletes now and getting them to really achieve their goals athletically and be that mentor, show them that path, kind of how I got there,” said Wright.
With hard work, sacrifice and good health, Wright says his long-lasting, successful career came with one big takeaway — live in the now.
“Not looking ahead, not even looking back and just ready to take the next year on and the next challenge,” said Wright. “So I think that was what helped me play as many years as I did.”
A lifetime of experience which the Sockers won’t ever forget.