Nobody summarised the ups and downs of Shaun Wright-Phillips's career quite as well as former England teammate Emile Heskey. Asked about what he made of the ongoing speculation linking Liverpool ace Raheem Sterling with a move to moneybags Manchester City, the former Kop forward gave a candid response.
"He has grown with Liverpool and established himself, but if he does want to leave then he is denying himself the opportunity to grow and to develop to become a top, top player for Liverpool," the 62-cap Englishman said. "But he should also be mindful of what has happened to other bright talents in the past, like Shaun Wright-Phillips.
"Shaun was England's hottest prospect after coming through and doing so well at Manchester City, but then he moved to Chelsea where he was not playing anywhere near as regularly."
It may be a harsh assessment, but it is also a true evaluation of Wright-Phillips's career, or more specifically, what could have been had he stuck rather than twisted.
© Getty Images
Like Sterling, SWP left one Premier League club for another, albeit departing a City side who at this stage were a world away from the title-challenging force they are in the current day. In another similarity to the Reds' wideman, Wright-Phillips left for an inflated transfer fee of £21m, penning a long-term deal at Stamford Bridge.
The then-23-year-old impressed from an early age with the Citizens, winning the club's Young Player of the Year award four years in succession, but once Chelsea came calling in 2005 the lure of returning to his native London proved too much to turn down. Competition for a starting spot, again much like the recently-ended transfer saga concerning Sterling and City, would be tough alongside the likes of Arjen Robben and Damien Duff.
Unperturbed by this battle for a berth on the wing, the England international was indeed relishing the challenge of making a step up in his career at a side that had just claimed their first ever Premier League title. "Competition is just healthy really and will help make me a better player," he told the club's website at the time.
"I just want to try and get some medals and be a regular part of the team. I want to play well for myself and for the fans, and for the coaching staff."
The parallels between Wright-Phillips and Sterling did not stop there, either, with the former being withdrawn from his side's tour of the Far East, having previously pulled out of a friendly squad due to illness.
© Getty Images
Son of prolific striker Ian Wright, the want-away winger tried his best to angle a move to Manchester City, which finally went through on this day 10 years ago. After leaving Man City on the back of a season which had seen his performances earn a first-ever senior international call-up, with 11 goals to his name in total, the pressure was on to prove his worth as the Blues hunted successive Prem titles.
However, just three seasons later, having made a grand total of 43 league starts for the Blues and completely fallen out of the England reckoning, Wright-Phillips was back in Manchester. City well and truly splashed the cash during that off-season, spending some £122m on 11 new faces, as the likes of Vincent Kompany, Robinho, Nigel de Jong and Craig Bellamy joined the revolution taking place at the City of Manchester Stadium.
While the signing of Robinho in particular was a true breakthrough moment for City in terms of their global profile, many were excited to see one of their former stars return. Wright-Phillips was unable to make an impression on his second coming, though, and in 2011 he was shipped off to Queens Park Rangers.
© Getty Images
Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic and Stoke City were also in the running, but it was QPR - themselves looking to spend big in an attempt to make an impression in the top flight - who won the drawn-out race.
There was to be no dream return to his previous best form, however, and as the days tick down towards the 2015-16 season, SWP is currently seeking a new club. A move to Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls, where brother Bradley Wright-Phillips has hugely impressed during his time there, now beckons.
It will always remain a case of what could have been for the blossoming star; a scenario Raheem Sterling will certainly hope does not repeat itself over the coming years.body check tags ::