Scott Parker is desperate to win the Europa League with Tottenham Hotspur, so that he has a medal which he can call his own. This evening, Parker's Spurs will face FC Basel in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. After a long season they are just four games away from a European final in Amsterdam in May.
Parker, understandably, would be desperate to be there. He has tasted success before, but only as a peripheral part of the Chelsea squad which won the League Cup and the Premier League in 2005. Parker was awarded two medals that season, but does not feel particularly attached to either of them, and does not know where they are.
"In the Carling Cup, I played in a few games before that and then I got to the final and I got injured," Parker explained, yesterday. "That was the one where I just thought I contributed quite a bit. But still didn't really feel at the bottom of my heart – and it was the same in the league – I didn't really feel I had any sort of contribution to it. I got a League medal as well but I don't know if it was official because obviously you have to play a certain number of games."
Parker, who made just four league appearances that season, does not even know where it is. "There were four of us who didn't play enough games but I think the club got replica medals made. I wouldn't know where it is now, though. I wouldn't have a clue. It says a lot I suppose, doesn't it?"
So Parker is desperate to win something which he can be proud of and if Spurs are Europa League champions this year he would certainly have been a big part of that. Then he might feel more confident about putting a medal on display. "It would have to go on the fireplace, wouldn't it?" Parker joked. "That would go somewhere a little bit more special. I'm not like that, but I'm sure I would treasure that a little bit more than my league one."
And Parker, now 32 years old, must be aware that he does not have infinite time left at the top level. "It's something that I'd love to do and at the end of my career, to look back and say 'This is what I did and this is the time we had'."
Parker's focus to win this trophy is matched by his manager, who has always been a frank supporter of the Europa League. "He told us from the outset that we were going to try and win it, that we were going to go strong and it was a part of our season that we needed to look at," Parker said.
"It's a big competition, there's big teams in it as well. If you've come away at the end of the season and you've won this competition you've done bloody well. You deserve a lot of credit, as a squad and as a team to achieve that. Because it's difficult, playing Thursdays and Sundays, there's big teams coming into it when the Champions League boys get knocked out. It's a very tough competition."
A real winning mentality would help Spurs but Parker feels the emergence of one after recent results. "Winning becomes a habit," he explained. "When I was at Chelsea we used to ground out results when we weren't playing well. There's a know-how. On Saturday [at Swansea] that was the case. I don't think we deserved to win the game but we did."
Tottenham v Basel
KO 8.05pm, White Hart Lane
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