WALKING has never been so popular – but few will have put in the miles that Tommy Wright has during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new Kilmarnock boss received a notification on his Fitbit that told him he had walked the length of the Sahara Desert during the numerous lockdowns and as a result he has lost 16 kilos along the way.
“I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more” the Proclaimers once said, but for Wright 3,000 miles was enough steps in the tank to realise that it was time for a return to football management.
The Northern Irishman departed St Johnstone in May and this week returned to the game after agreeing a deal with Kilmarnock to become their new manager.
Speaking to the press for the first time since his appointment, Wright said: “It was the right time for me to leave. It was my decision. I thought I needed a break. I didn’t actually get the break I envisaged because of Covid. I had holidays planned and trips to clubs abroad and in England to keep improving as a coach and a manager.
“I was able to do some stuff online through the FA so that was good. The Fitbit has informed me I have walked the length of the Sahara Desert, so I think that’s far enough. I’m ready to get back.
“I played a lot of golf when I could, I started to walk. Unfortunately, with my knees I cannot do any running, so I did a lot of walking. I built up to 70kms a week – my actual training shoes have done more kms than my car over the last period of time.
“I lost a lot of weight. I lost about 16 kilos. Maybe the Hibs fans were right to call me a fat so and so! The one thing is people out there stay safe, but I tell you what it’s good for you!”
Wright arrives at Rugby Park after missing out on the Northern Ireland international job as well as the Motherwell position that was offered to Graham Alexander.
Despite an obvious disappointment at being overlooked, Wright believes Killie are the perfect club for him at this moment in time.
“You can never pick and choose but the Kilmarnock job coming up at a time when I felt I was ready to get back in was a really good time for me. It was a good opportunity for me,” he told and Times Sport.
“If I think it’s right for me to move on, as I did at St Johnstone, it’s right for me to move on. I made the decision. You don’t make a decision like that thinking ‘what if I don’t get back in?’
“I’ve never had any qualms about it being the right decision. The fact that I missed out on the Northern Ireland job or missed out on other jobs … there are other jobs I missed out on that were for my reasons as well.
“There was never a stage where I got worried because the decision to leave a job where I could probably have stayed for the next five years was my decision. So when you’re comfortable with that decision, you’re never uncomfortable with the fact that you might not get back in.
“You’ve made that decision. Of course, I wanted to get back in but it was never going to give me sleepless nights. I’m pleased to be back in. I think this is going to be another good fit for me.”
Wright is only two days into his new role but he has already been impressed by the squad at his disposal.
Killie welcome Motherwell to Rugby Park tonight and ahead of the match, he said: “I know every manager would probably say this but yes they have impressed me. I know a lot of the players – I tried to sign two or three throughout my time at St Johnstone.
“They have not trained like a team who have not won a game in so many weeks and are on a poor run. The attitude and enthusiasm have been magnificent. Not that I needed any convincing in terms of the decision, but it re-affirms it’s a good squad and it’s a squad that we just need to re-focus and concentrate on these 11 games and try and look up the table.”