From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.22 :: Jun. 02, 2011

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FOOTBALL

Parker shining bright

Scott Parker has been a revelation at Upton Park ever since he returned to the capital from Newcastle United for GBP7million back in 2007. By Liam Brown.

AP

There has been little for West Ham fans to cheer this season but there is no doubt that their campaign would have been even worse without Scott Parker.

If there is one player that highlights the never-give-up attitude that is needed by a club in West Ham's situation this season, it is the talented midfielder, but sadly those qualities have too often been lacking in his teammates.

Parker has been a revelation at Upton Park ever since he returned to the capital from Newcastle United for GBP7million back in 2007.

He has spent his entire footballing career in the spotlight, having first appeared on British television screens in 1993 when, at the age of 13, he starred in a McDonalds advert.

He caught the eye of Charlton Athletic and four years later signed his first professional contract with the London club, making his first-team debut in a 4-1 defeat by Sheffield United. Perhaps most tellingly, he was on the pitch for less than 20 minutes but still managed to get booked.

He took a while to establish himself at Charlton as they returned to the English Premier League but was handed a new four-year deal and represented England under-21s at the European Championship.

A first call-up to the senior England team followed during the 2003/4 season and he then made his debut against Denmark at Old Trafford.

His form had also not gone unnoticed by the bigger clubs and Chelsea, only too happy to splash the cash following Roman Abramovich's takeover, invested GBP10million in taking him to Stamford Bridge as he was named PFA Young Footballer of the Year. He helped the Blues finish as runners-up in the EPL but he dropped out of favour when Claudio Ranieri was replaced by Jose Mourinho. A broken bone in his foot did not help his cause and he was offloaded to Newcastle in a GBP6.5million deal.

It was on his return to London with West Ham that his career really took off though, as he cemented his place in the centre of midfield under his former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley initially, and his impressive performances this season were recognised when the 30-year-old picked up the much-vaunted Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award.

It is a prize which so often goes to a player who has been part of a team challenging for silverware, so to be successful in a side at the wrong end of the table makes the achievement even more impressive.

Parker believes he has never played better and his enjoyment since moving to Upton Park makes the poor run of results even harder to take.

“From the minute that I signed for West Ham I learned what a good club they are, the history, the fan base,” he said. “They're a massive club and it's a great shame that, over the past few years, they have been dogged by one problem after another.

“When the current owners took over it looked as though there would be more stability but then came this season and the poor results on the pitch.

“It's very disappointing and it hurts me a lot. I have the utmost respect for the fans. Yes, I'm winning awards because I'm playing the best football of my career.

“Why? Because I feel wanted here and it feels like home.”

Parker signed a new five-year contract in September 2010, making him the highest-paid player in the club's history. However, his future is unclear after West Ham co-owner David Gold revealed he would let the club's England internationals leave following relegation.

And while Parker professes to feel at home at West Ham, he admits dropping to the Championship could see him move onto pastures new. “I'm like every player, I want to be playing at the highest level I can and in the Premier League,” he said. “I don't know what the future holds for me”

He is married to Carly Parker and the couple have had three children together. Parker bought a GBP160,000 James Bond-style Aston Martin Vanquish when he was set to join Chelsea.

FACTFILE

NAME: Scott Parker

Position: Midfielder

Club: West Ham

D.O.B: 13/10/1980

England Caps: 5

England Goals: 0

England Debut: v Denmark, 2003

Moment to remember: Being named Football Writers' Association Football of the Year this season.

Moment to forget: Being part of the West Ham side that were relegated this season, despite his own high standards.

© PA Sport, 2011, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.



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