Trainee goes commercial

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Teenager Scott Parker is a new face in Charlton Athletic's first- team squad this season, but supporters who reckon they have seen the young midfielder somewhere before would not be mistaken - indeed, he used to pop up almost nightly on television screens across the country.

While the idea of a career in professional football was still a dream, Scott had an early taste of fame as the star of a 20- second commercial for fast-food giants McDonald's.

He had to show off his ball- juggling skills as a football-crazy youngster as part of a campaign geared to the 1994 World Cup finals, for which McDonald's was among the sponsors.

"I was only 13 at the time," Parker says. "I was going to Charlton's school of excellence at the time and when an advertising company contacted them to ask for kids to audition for the part they put me forward.

"I was one of 50 kids from different schools and clubs who went to the original audition. That came down to 20 before we did a screen test inside a studio, where I eventually was picked.

"On the day it was filmed, it took about six hours of takes and retakes to get the commercial right but I didn't mind - I was paid pounds 600 for taking part."

Since then, Parker has spent two years in residence at the Football Association's national school of excellence at Lilleshall, where he struck up a friendship with Liverpool's fledgling striker Michael Owen. Charlton have now rewarded him with a YTS contract.

Now 16, Parker made his Nationwide League debut at Bury last month, going on as substitute for the last six minutes. It was as big a thrill, he says, as being picked for the ad campaign.

"When I was told I was travelling I couldn't believe it. I never imagined I'd actually be on the bench."