HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls very nearly didn't land Shaun Wright-Phillips, the former English international who they unveiled on Tuesday at a press conference. It had nothing to do with playing in MLS, length of contract, dollars or endorsements.
Instead, it was a wedding location that nearly derailed everything.
The older brother of Bradley Wright-Phillips, the Red Bulls star forward who led the league in goal scoring last year, Shaun has a long and storied pedigree having played 36 times for England and suiting up for clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City. Last summer, he was very strongly linked with a move to the Red Bulls but he decided to stay in England.
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Now he came over last month to be a part of his brother's wedding and ended up staying for well over a month as he daily trained with the Red Bulls. After a couple weeks, Red Bulls management saw his class and decided to offer him a contract. On Tuesday, he stood on the field at Red Bull Arena, clutching a No. 98 jersey for a throng of media who gleefully snapped photos.
All because he decided to attend his little brother's wedding – a wedding that almost didn't take place in New Jersey and could have thrown off the chain of events that led to this marquee signing.
“We were going to get married in England when we decided to have it in New Jersey and Shaun plays for the New York Red Bulls now,” Bradley said on Tuesday.
“We live here now, we love New Jersey. England's got terrible weather.”
After the wedding, Shaun traveled to see his brother player at the Houston Dynamo in what became a loss for the Red Bulls. In the airport, he talked with Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch who invited him to come practice and stay fit.
Shaun was out of contract after completing the English Premier League season so he took Marsch up on the offer to train and stay fit. One thing led to another and the brothers are now teammates.
All because a wedding was held in New Jersey and not England.