Being the flag-bearer of Manchester City Academy is an honour Shaun Wright-Phillips has always been rightly proud of.
City’s Academy status was confirmed in 1998 and in August 1999, Wright-Phillips became the first youngster from the newly-formed youth set-up to play for the first team when he made his debut against Burnley aged 17.
Shaun went on to become a hugely popular figure among the City fans and he made 275 appearances over two spells, spending almost a decade in sky blue and is currently with Phoenix Rising in the USL.
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Fast forward 20 years and Shaun’s son D’Margio Wright-Phillips is preparing for Thursday night’s FA Youth Cup final against Liverpool as the Blues look to lift the prestigious Under-18s trophy for only the third time.
So, what’s it like for SWP, seeing the Wright-Phillips dynasty continue at City.
“It’s a delight in all honesty and the same for any parent that is proud of the job their son or daughter is doing,” said Shaun.
“The fact that D’Margio is doing something I was doing is fantastic and the fact he plays with a smile is the most important thing for me.”
Is D’Margio in his dad’s image as a player? Shaun says there are similarities, but he can also see traits of his own father, Ian Wright and his younger brother Bradley Wright-Phillips.
“At times he does, with his personality during games and the way he can sometimes affect a match, but he has his granddad and, his uncle and he has me so he’s got three different mentors and three players who played differently which has to give him some kind of advantage because even I didn’t have all that when I was growing up.”
One thing Shaun remains passionate about is the conveyor belt of talent coming through to the first team must continue, not only for City’s future but for England’s as well.
“It’s massively important that clubs like City continue to invest heavily in youth because that is football’s future and it’s England’s future,” he said.
“If we don’t discover exciting talent coming through such as Phil Foden, then we cut off the lifeblood of the national team and we start to go backwards.
“From club to club, the youth team graduates are viewed differently – some want them to come through and play for the first team, some need to sell them to generate money.
“The way City do things is to try and develop players for the first team – it’s a bit tougher here, as it is at most top clubs, but that’s expected - and the players are up for the challenge and are relishing it.”
And Shaun believes D’Margio is progressing on his own terms and doesn’t think that his dad being so popular at the same club will ultimately make any difference.
“Does the Wright-Phillips name help him? No, I don’t think so,” said Shaun.
“Where football is at now, you can’t just get on by having a well-known name – you have to be among the best – it might have helped in the past a little, but not anymore.
“It’s about what you do on the pitch and your potential to develop into something special, especially at City.
“So, he has to maintain his consistency, work hard and see where that takes him.”
And on Thursday’s final, he added: “I’ll be watching the game from somewhere, though I’m not sure where I’ll be. But I’m still in the UK so I’ll see what happens and obviously I’ll be rooting for City to win, as I always do.
“After that, it’s back to Phoenix – Manchester’s too cold for me these days!”