WHEN Josh Wright woke up three Mondays ago he could not have been happier.
The midfielder was preparing to make the short trip from his Essex home to Leyton Orient to complete his transfer from Bradford back to the club he has followed since he was a boy.
2 Wright's world came crashing down on learning of Edinburgh's deathCredit: Instagram
2 Josh Wright had only just put pen to paper on a deal to return to Leyton OrientCredit: Leyton Orient
His world was then blown apart when he received a call telling him his friend and O’s boss Justin Edinburgh had suffered a cardiac arrest and was in hospital.
It signalled the start of one of the worst weeks of the player’s life.
Today, in an exclusive SunSport interview, Edinburgh’s final signing in football tells us how devastated he was by the death of the man who was not only his manager and his mentor but also his mate.
And reveals the pain and pride he will carry with him playing for Orient in League Two next season.
Wright, the brother of TV presenter and ex-Towie star Mark, said: “He wasn’t just my gaffer he was my friend.
“There aren’t many people you can trust in football, it is such a competitive and cut-throat world. But the gaffer was one of them for me. I could always lean and rely on him.
“I played under him at Gillingham, where he made me captain.
“I got to know him and his family really well. They came to my wedding on Majorca last year and have been at family parties and meet-ups since.
Justin was one of the main reasons I signed, that and the fact I was coming back home to Leyton Orient, the club closest to my heart. It was a dream come true.
Wright on his return to Orient
“Justin, Kerri, Charlie and Cydney, they were the Edinburghs. Simple as that.
“Justin was one of the main reasons I signed, that and the fact I was coming back home to Leyton Orient, the club closest to my heart. It was a dream come true.
“I spoke with him the Friday before the Champions League final. He was excited about going to Madrid to watch Tottenham vs Liverpool.
“He said some kind words about signing me and what he hoped we could achieve next season — which will remain private — and said he would see me at the club on Monday to complete the signing.”
Wright, 29, did not know then that would be the last time the pair would speak.
On that Monday, as he was getting ready to meet his boss, Wright received a call from Edinburgh’s son Charlie, who said his dad had been taken ill.
Wright revealed: “He said he wanted to speak with someone. He told me what had happened.
“Charlie is an unbelievable fella but he was in a bad way and I didn’t quite know what to do if I am being honest.
“I have known him, his dad and family a long time. So I just tried to calm Charlie down before he had to get off the phone and be with his family.
“When I came off the phone I was thrown, all I could think about was the man and his family. I don’t mind admitting I broke down.
“I was shocked — and the last thing I was thinking about was going in to sign. I was just concerned about the gaffer.”
O’s director of football Martin Ling called Wright’s agent and told them to come in to complete the transfer formalities.
Wright said: “They, like everybody, expected Justin to recover and knew he would be annoyed had we not finished the deal.
“Football can work now where managers don’t always play a part in transfers, but this was the gaffer’s deal. He played a huge part in signing me.”
With Edinburgh in an induced coma, Charlie told Wright to go ahead with his planned family break to Dubai — in the belief the former Spurs star would recover.
After twice-daily calls to the UK to check on his manager’s condition, Wright got a call from Charlie on the Saturday to tell him his father had died. He was 49.
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Wright admitted: “I was in paradise and my world came crashing down.”
He flew back days later and his signing was officially announced by Orient on Friday.
Wright said: “I’ve been back in training to get my fitness back up and I still can’t believe the gaffer isn’t there.
“Every time I do a sprint and turn I look up and expect him to be shouting at me to go faster.
“He was so demanding but had one of those personalities that made you want to work for him. I’m gutted he didn’t get the chance to finish the brilliant job he was doing.
“Being his last signing is an honour, but it hurts as well.
“I will wear it next season with pride and pain and I am sure he will be looking down on us. Hopefully we can make him and his family proud.”