Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
TOWIE star Mark Wright goes back to his roots at Boots & Laces
Mark Wright in action for Essex United at Southend United's Boots and Laces training ground on Sunday
MENTION Mark Wright and most people’s first thoughts will be of him appearing in The Only Way is Essex and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.
But before Wright’s rapid rise to fame was a spell as a young footballer with Southend United.
And Wright has happy memories of his time at Roots Hall .
“Southend was the last professional club I was with and I had a good time while I was there,” said Wright, 25.
“The team was doing well at the time, winning promotions and there was just a really good feel around the place.
“There was a great set of lads with the likes of Duncan Jupp and Mark Bentley there and it really was a good family club.”
Wright was an unused substitute for Blues three times during the 2005/06 season when the team, managed by Steve Tilson , went on to win the League One title.
But, at the end of that season and with Southend preparing for life in the Championship, Wright was allowed to depart.
After a loan spell at Lewes, the left-back ended up at Grays Athletic before falling out of love with the game.
“Growing up I was with Tottenham and really wanted to have a career in football but I started to lose interest in it a few years after leaving Southend,” said Wright. “I decided to try other things and fortunately it’s gone quite well for me.”
That is something of an understatement from Wright who, after appearing in TOWIE, now has his own reality show Hollywood Nights on ITV2.
Interest in him remains huge with 1.7million followers on Twitters and he continues to hit national newspaper headlines on a regular basis.
However, despite his new lifestyle, Wright remains determined to keep his feet on the ground.
“It’s important to keep things real and I definitely do that,” said Wright.
“I’m lucky that the TV show I was on went well and it opened up other things for me which I’ve really enjoyed.”
Wright has now rekindled his interest in football too and he regularly turns out for Essex United, a team which includes a number of his friends.
They were at Southend United’s Meet the Blues Day at the club’s training ground on Sunday.
And Wright, who scored twice in his side’s 8-4 win over a team made up of former Blues players, enjoyed being back on familiar ground.
“It brought back a lot of good memories and I really enjoyed playing,” said Wright.
“I’d like to thank everyone who turned out to watch it because we were there to raise money for Haven House Hospice which is a fantastic charity.”