Darren Bent pays tribute to the men and women who inspired him

For most football fans, the club you support is more important than any one player. But that’s not the case with Darren Bent.

“I grew up in Thornton Heath, which is the Crystal Palace area,” Bent said. “My dad used to take me to see Crystal Palace and I went there to see Ian Wright.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, what a player.’ I wanted to be a center. I wanted to wear No. 8 like him.

“So when he moved to Arsenal, I went to see Arsenal play and I just fell in love with the club and watching him play in that shirt.

“I was a Palace fan when he was there and then when he went to Arsenal I became an Arsenal fan.

“He’s someone I really respect. I’ve watched all his videos before. I like his character, his demeanor.

“His attitude is that he doesn’t mind what people say to him and he’s going to keep doing what he does. People have given him a little bit, given him a little dig and he’s stepped up to it. He’s not going to take it. He is my biggest inspiration.”

Ian Wright 1

Bent was speaking as part of a Black History Month series interviewing Premier League footballers about the people who inspire them. Wright’s influence on Bent is still felt today.

“Now I’m happy to be working with him,” Bent said. “Even though I’ve worked with him hundreds of times, I still feel the same way I did as a kid.

“I wasn’t saying that to him, but I was thinking, ‘I don’t know if you know this, but you are the reason why I want to be a footballer, why I support Arsenal, why I wear the number 12 shirt.’ My Sunday League team scored eight goals and that’s why I love scoring goals.” It’s all about him.

“Even when I work with him now (in media) and he’s talking, I just look at him like, ‘How is he saying this? What is he saying? ‘I almost feel like I’m a kid again, Try to learn from him. “

Bent Wright Broadcasting
Trail Blazers

While Wright was his inspiration as a young player, Bent said his father, Mervyn, helped him better understand the struggles and discrimination faced by those who had previously blazed a trail.

“My dad always used to talk to me about the athletes of his era,” he said. “I know racism is still prevalent and it’s difficult but at the time my dad was talking about people like Cyril Regis and these players at West Brom have to do what they have to do.

“It was Muhammad Ali, it was this era. My dad was like, ‘Read this book about him. Study him. Listen to Bob Marley. Listen to the lyrics. Look what he had to endure.’ There was so much many.

“So it’s not just about football. I probably grew up being influenced by the broader concept of, ‘This is what you have to deal with.'”

“I have to say, there’s a lot of black influence that got me to where I am now.”

Tribute to the Williams sisters

This year’s Black History Month theme is “Celebrating Our Sisters,” recognizing the outstanding achievements of Black women in shaping history, inspiring change and building community.

“Serena Williams is one of my five greatest athletes of all time and the greatest tennis player of all time,” Bent said.

“What she did, what she had to deal with… when you look at the way she dresses on the tennis court and the way she wears her hair. She’s someone who says, ‘I don’t’ I really Don’t care about this. I’m going to do what I want to do, the way I want to do it. “

“She and her sister (Venus) also pushed each other. Even though she was the greatest, I would have a hard time mentioning Serena without mentioning Venus.”

Serena and Venus Williams
“Strong Black Women”

Closer to home, Bent thanked his mother, Shirley, and his three sisters for providing an environment in which he could thrive as a footballer and young man.

“Strong, powerful black women,” Bent added proudly. “My mom supported me from day one, wouldn’t let anyone talk crap about me, and she taught me how to be myself. She’s probably still fighting some of my battles now! She’s an inspiration People – tough, strong.

“My parents were divorced. My dad was still always involved and he was always fulfilling his responsibilities, but I lived with my mom full time, so she had to bear with everything that happened to me growing up. She was definitely me ‘s mother.” is the driving force behind my success and all that I have accomplished.

“She also has three sisters who support her. Being in their environment has always been what I love about them because they stay the way they should be and do (things) the way they should be done.”

Also in this series

Part 1: How the Premier League is fighting racism
Part 2: How Sal’s Family Prepared Him for Success
Part 3: West Ham meet Premier League equality standards
Part 4: How clubs and players can support the No Room for Racism campaign
Part 5: Ogbene: Teaching diversity to the younger generation is important
Part 6: Danjuma: My greatness comes from suffering
Part 7: How Wolves educate young people about inclusion
Section 8: “Everyone has a responsibility to take action against discrimination”
Part 9: Caicedo: Learning through diversity helped me reach the top

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