It was 18 years ago that Scott Parker was selected by the Football Association as one of its elite young footballers and at 32, and back among the elite, the Tottenham midfielder said this week that he was determined to play more than one tournament for his country.
Parker was one of the Lilleshall boys at the now defunct FA national centre that turned out so many future internationals although, given his prodigy status then, he probably did not expect to wait until he was 31 to play in his first international tournament.
At St George's Park for the first time this week, ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, Parker said that the new centre reminded him of his days at Lilleshall as a contemporary of Alan Smith and Franny Jeffers, who featured in an ITV documentary on the school in the mid-1990s. Injury and form mean that until last week Parker had not been selected in a squad since Euro 2012.
"I don't get the age argument," he said. "I watched Ryan Giggs against Real Madrid in the Champions League the other day and he was doing more running than anyone else. I just think if you are good enough, if you are fit enough and the manager feels you are good enough to do the job, you do it. I was brought up going to Lilleshall at 14. I was there for two years, so I have an understanding of football, an understanding of what we were about. Lilleshall shut down and there was no real identity. It [St George's] does bring back those memories.
"I owe a lot to where I am today [to Lilleshall]. My mentality, the way I am, not just as a player, but as a person, I owe to Lilleshall. It was a very good grounding for me – gave me an understanding of what life would be like as a player and what I needed to do to get there."
Parker said that he believes England, two points behind qualifying group leaders Montenegro, have a squad strong enough to reach the World Cup finals. "At Tottenham, if I think, 'Our next game is against Swansea, and if we lose that we could be not looking at fourth', you can't go in with that mentality.
"When you have that mentality and those doubts, that's when you probably will start losing, start worrying, stress hits and you don't do the things that normally come natural to you."Reuse content