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From Point to Premiership: Lewis-born Matthew Wright reflects on pathway into Ross County’s first team

Ross County striker Matthew Wright celebrates netting against Rangers
Matthew Wright celebrates netting against Rangers.

Matthew Wright has racked up the miles through his youth career, but he insists his first team journey is only beginning at Ross County.

Young striker Wright hit the headlines last weekend, when he came off the bench to net a sensational late equaliser in a 3-3 draw against Rangers.

It was the 19-year-old’s first appearance since returning from a loan spell with Highland League Brora Rangers, where he netted 21 goals.

It caps a remarkable route through the Staggies youth ranks for Wright, who hails from Point on the Isle of Lewis.

Looking to build up Premiership minutes after ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ commitment

Wright was an unused substitute in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Aberdeen, however, he hopes his late strike against the champions can be the start of a stronger foothold in Malky Mackay’s side.

Matthew Wright.

He said: “I am intelligent enough to know that I wasn’t coming back here to start every week, but hopefully I can build on the goal against Rangers.

“It’s about picking up game time week after week, hopefully seven minutes on Saturday can turn in to 10 and 10 in to 15 and we take it from there.

“It’s still small steps for me and having the goals in the Highland League is great, but that’s past and gone.

“I’m now looking at the next step in the process and how I can build on it in the Premiership.”

Football runs in Wright’s family, with his father Alex having played as a goalkeeper for hometown club Point for more than 30 years.

Wright has paid tribute to the dedication of his relatives to transport him on the three-hour ferry over the Minch to Ullapool.

Another hour’s drive would follow to Dingwall in order for Wright to train and play in youth matches for the Staggies.

He added: “I was in the academy for a period of time before I was 16 and it was challenging logistically, but to have the opportunity to be part of a Premiership club was so exciting.

“If we were coming over for training, it was literally planes, trains and automobiles. Normally it was the ferry over to Ullapool then car down, and the same routine back home.

“I would spend a lot of the travel time either doing homework or sleeping. It was certainly a challenge, but I’m really grateful to my family for the support and giving up so much to enable me to do it.”

Cowie is ‘proof’ Highland youngsters can go right to the top

The progression of Lewis-born players to the top level of Scottish football has been a far from common occurrence.

Wright is joined in pushing for a Staggies’ first team place by Adam Mackinnon, while the Staggies also sold fellow Lewis-native James Graham to Rangers in 2020.

Wright takes huge pride in his roots, adding: “It’s incredible to represent Lewis and the Highlands in the Premiership. I think sometimes football and young footballers in the Highlands can be written off very easily.

“But we have Don Cowie here. When you look at him, he is proof that if you do things the right way you can be successful and can achieve your ambitions.

Don Cowie.

“I think you also have to appreciate the people that put so much in to our academy and it makes you give the same effort and commitment back.

“Steven Ferguson has given so much to the club’s academy and is a huge driving force in why we develop so many young players, for example Josh Reid who came through last year.

Ross County chief executive Steven Ferguson.

“If it wasn’t for people like Steven the club wouldn’t have such a professional development platform for young guys like me. Ross County have put a lot in to the islands over the years.

“I am also really grateful to Point FC, because they gave me my first steps in football and they have so many dedicated people to football on the islands.

“My dad played for them for 30 years and took me along when I was 12 to get my first taste of men’s football.”

‘I’ll maybe leave my next trip home a bit longer now’

With a strong Rangers fanbase on Lewis, Wright knew his late impact would not sit well with all of his friends back home.

He added: “It’s been really overwhelming from friends, family, team mates and ex-team mates. It’s really humbling to receive all the messages and have so many people reaching out.

“I think I would have been cursed further than Lewis, but we did what we wanted to do which was get the point at that stage in the game.

“I’ll maybe leave my next trip home a bit longer now though. I’ll leave it to my family to deal with the backlash over there.”

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