Mark Bright – professional footballer and BBC sports pundit.

Mark Abraham Bright (born 6 June 1962) is an English former footballer who is now a sports pundit on BBC and British Eurosport, as well as a coach at Crystal Palace.

He made the move from non-league Leek Town to Port Vale in 1981, where he remained for three years before he signed with Leicester City. In 1986 he transferred to Crystal Palace, where he would score 92 league goals over the next six years. Joining Sheffield Wednesday in 1992, he stayed with the club for five years before moving to Swiss side FC Sion in 1997, following a short loan stay at Millwall. He returned to England later in 1997 to play for Charlton Athletic, before he announced his retirement in 1999. A forward, he scored 167 goals in 463 league games throughout an 18-year career in the Football League. He played in one League Cup and two FA Cup finals, all of which ended in defeat. He helped Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic to win promotion to the top-flight via the play-offs.

Football Career

After a spell working in a factory and playing part-time at Cheshire County League outfit Leek Town, Bright moved to John McGrath’s Port Vale in October 1981, a club that had previously released him from their youth team at the age of 16.[2] He made his full debut on the last day of the 1981–82 season, in a 2–0 win over Torquay United at Vale Park, two weeks after coming on as a substitute in a goalless home draw with York City on 1 May 1982.[1] He played just once in the 1982–83 Fourth Division promotion campaign, scoring Vale’s second goal in a 2–0 home win over Hereford United on 9 October.[1] Bright came to prominence for the “Valiants” under the stewardship of new boss John Rudge towards the end of the 1983–84 season, scoring ten goals in 31 games, though this was not enough to save the club from relegation out of the Third Division.[1] Graham Barnett advised him to reject John Rudge’s offer of a two year contract, and in June 1984 Bright was sold to Leicester City for £33,333.[3] This fee was later doubled due to a top-up clause.[1]

Gordon Milne’s “Foxes” struggled in the lower half of the First Division table in the 1984–85 and 1985–86 seasons. Bright scored six goals in 42 league games in his two seasons on Filbert Street. He was sold on by new manager Bryan Hamilton early in the 1986–87 season.

Bright was signed to Crystal Palace by manager Steve Coppell for a £75,000 fee in November 1986. The “Eagles” were pressing for promotion out of the Second Division, but finished two points outside the play-offs in 1986–87. He earned the Golden Boot for the highest scorer in the division in 1987–88 with 24 goals, though again the club finished one place and two points outside of the play-offs.[4] A third place finish in 1988–89 secured them a play-off place. In the play-offs, he scored in the semi-final victory over Swindon Town, which helped Palace to reach the play-off final; Palace then beat Blackburn Rovers 4–3 on aggregate, to win promotion to the top-flight.

His 12 goals in the First Division in 1989–90 were an important part of Palace’s creditable showing, and it was Bright’s crashing drive at the start of the second-half that began Palace’s recovery against Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final and ultimately helped them to get to the final at Wembley. Their victory over Liverpool was particularly remarkable as they had lost 9–0 at Anfield at the start of the season. After a 3–3 draw in the original tie, Palace lost 1–0 to Manchester United in the replay of the final.

As Palace impressed in the First Division throughout 1990–91, Bright proved his predatory skills at the highest level with a sequence of seven top-flight goals in just ten midwinter games as the “Eagles” secured their highest ever league finish of third. The potency of Bright and Ian Wright’s partnership was demonstrated on 25 September 1990, when both players scored hat-tricks in an 8–0 win over Southend United at Selhurst Park in the League Cup. Even after Wright had left the club Bright continued his great form for Palace, and his 17 First Division goals in 1991–92 was, at the time, a record return for a Palace striker in the top-flight; he was also the division’s seventh highest scorer.

Bright left Palace for Sheffield Wednesday in September 1992 in a cash plus player exchange deal involving fellow striker Paul Williams. He finished as the club’s top-scorer for three consecutive seasons, taking pressure off club stalwart David Hirst. He eventually became the “Owls” highest goalscorer in the Premier League to date, scoring 48 goals between 1992 and 1996.[4] After scoring six goals in the League Cup, Bright played in the League Cup Final, which ended in a 2–1 defeat to Arsenal. One of Bright’s notable goals came in the All-Sheffield FA Cup semi-final in 1993, Bright’s extra-time header sealing a place in the final. He fared far less well in the final itself, controversially elbowing Arsenal defender Andy Linighan in the face, causing a broken nose. Later, with the scores level in the last minute of extra time, a heavily bandaged Linighan out-jumped Bright from a corner to score the winning goal.[5][6]

With 19 goals, he was Wednesday’s highest scorer and the Premier League’s seventh highest scorer in 1993–94. He then hit 13 goals in the 1994–95 season, in manager Trevor Francis’s last season in charge. Bright played in the 1995 UEFA Intertoto Cup, scoring goals against Polish club Górnik Zabrze, German side Karlsruher SC, and Danish side AGF. The Hillsborough outfit then finished 15th in the league in 1995–96 under the stewardship of David Pleat. Bright then fell out of the first team picture in 1996–97, and was loaned to Second Division side Millwall, before joining Swiss club FC Sion in January 1997.

Bright joined Alan Curbishley’s Charlton Athletic towards the end of the 1996–97 season. He helped the “Addicks” to finish fourth in the second tier in 1997–98, and played in their dramatic win over Sunderland in the 1998 play off final,[4] which was won 7–6 on penalties after a 4–4 draw. He left The Valley and retired from professional football at the end of the 1998–99 season.

Media career

After retiring, Bright became a football correspondent on The Big Breakfast. He currently works on the BBC show Football Focus.[7] He also commentates on some international matches, often alongside Jonathan Pearce and Steve Wilson on Match of the Day.[4] He is also the sports correspondent for BBC London News.[4] He has also written for Match magazine, appeared on 6-0-6 phone-in show, Fighting Talk radio show, 5 Live Sport radio show, and on television programme Final Score.

In 2013, Bright agreed to join the British Eurosport team to commentate on the live African Cup of Nations matches.

Bright featured as himself in a television advert for Prostate Cancer UK in January 2013 alongside impressionist Jon Culshaw, who featured as Tiziano Crudeli.

Coaching career

In summer 2009 he joined the Crystal Palace academy set-up, along with his former teammate John Salako.[8]

Personal life

Bright’s father was Gambian and his mother was English, he was raised in his mother’s hometown of Stoke-on-Trent.[9]

He met British singer and actress Michelle Gayle in 1995, the couple later married in Las Vegas and in 2000 had a son they named Isaiah. They separated in 2007, though remain on good terms.[10]

In his spare time he enjoys playing golf[11] and riding motorbikes.[4]

Bright has completed six half marathons since his retirement in 1999, all of them in the Great North Run.[4] He is also a regular competitor in the London Marathon, raising funds for cancer research in 2000, the Willow Foundation in 2005 and The Rhys Daniels Trust in 2006.[4] In 2006 he starred in Cirque de Celebrité, only to be the first person to be voted off. In March 2007, he scored the first goal at the new Wembley Stadium for a “Geoff Thomas Foundation Charity XI”, in aid of his captain at Palace, Geoff Thomas; his team won 2–0 (Simon Jordan scoring the second goal).[4]



  • PFA Second Division Team of the Year: 1987–88
  • Crystal Palace Player of The Year: 1990

with Port Vale

  • Football League Fourth Division third-place promotion: 1982–83

with Crystal Palace

  • Football League Second Division play-off Final: 1989
    FA Cup runner-up: 1990

with Sheffield Wednesday

  • Football League Cup runner-up 1993
  • FA Cup runner-up: 1993

with Charlton Athletic

  • Football League First Division play-off winner: 1998


[1] a b c d e f g Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 41. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.
[2] “Football: Top players must lead way on ref respect, says Vale hero Bright”. The Sentinel. 11 February 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
[3] Kent, Jeff (December 1991). Port Vale Tales: A Collection Of Stories, Anecdotes And Memories. Witan Books. p. 30. ISBN 0-9508981-6-3.
[4] a b c d e f g h i “Mark Bright”. BBC Press Office. April 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2009.
[5] “New season will begin again minus a Linighan”. The Northern Echo. 11 May 2001. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
[6] Francis, Dan; Alford, Mark (30 April 2009). “VIDEO SPECIAL: Unlikely heroes – John O’Shea and other defenders who became strikers when it mattered most”. Daily Mail (London).
[7] “Mark Bright”. BBC Sport. 25 March 2004. Retrieved 12 May 2009.
[8] “Palace Legends Join Academy Set Up”. 11 September 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2009.
[9] “Former Port Vale star returns to school to help African children”. The Sentinel. 11 June 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2009.
[10] “Ex-EastEnder Michelle love split”. The Sun. News Group Newspapers. 24 Feb 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2009.
[11] Rookwood, Dan (4 July 2003). “Mark Bright”. The Guardian (London). Retrieved 12 May 2009.

Taken from Wikipedia - 1st April 2013

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