In Focus: Scott Parker

Scott Parker was born on 13th October 1980, currently first team manager with Fulham, played as a midfielder for West Ham United for just over 4 seasons scoring 12 goals in 129 appearances.

Parker began his career at Charlton Athletic in a 0-0 draw on 23rd August 1997, coming on as a substitute. After sporadically making appearances as a substitute Scott was loaned to Norwich in the Championship before returning to Charlton and quickly returned to the first team squad replacing the injured Mark Kinsella. Parkers form was such that after recovering from injury, Kinsella could not get back into the Charlton starting line up. Parker established himself as key player with his tackling, ability to carry the ball from defence into attack and to play some telling passes that created many chances for his teammates.

Parker moved to Chelsea on a four and a half year contract for £10m fee, but the then Charlton manager, Alan Curbishley, criticised Scotts attitude following the news of Chelsea’s interest. Initially signed for cover for Claude Makelele and Frank Lampard, his time at Chelsea proved frustrating with Parker limited to League Cup appearances and then suffering a broken metatarsal. Despite only 4 league appearances Scott collected a Premier League winners medal in the 2004-05 season. 

The following summer Parker was sold to Newcastle in July 2005 for £6.5m becoming a regular in the first team, showing consistency during a difficult season for the Magpie’s. But later in the season Scott was diagnosed with glandular fever, which came at a rather unfortunate time that ended any hopes Parker had to make the England squad for the upcoming 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Parker replaced the retired Alan Shearer as captain and his performances earned Scott a recall to the England squad after 2 years and led Newcastle to the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2006 before moving to West Ham United in June 2007 for £7m fee. Injuries limited Scott’s start until December 2007 where Parker scored a last minute winner in a 2-1 victory against Middlesborough.

Parker then played a major role in West Ham’s 2008-09 season earning the first of three Hammer of the Year by the clubs supporters and retained the award for the following season, which was highlighted by Scott’s winning goal against Wigan Athletic in a 3-2 victory that secured Premier League status for another season.

Scott signed a new 5 year contract in September 2010, despite interest from Tottenham Hotspur, where David Sullivan stated that Parker was not for sale for any price. Considered one of the most consistent English midfielders there were calls for Scott to feature regularly for the national team. Carlton Cole praised Parkers inspirational team talk at half time when 0-3 down against West Bromwich Albion that finished 3-3 after a Hammers comeback.

Despite relegation Parkers performances throughout the season and his recall to the England squad, Scott was placed on a six player shortlist for PFA Players’ Player of the Year, but he missed out but to be voted FWA Footballer of the Year.

Parker had started the new season in the Championship playing the first four matches for West Ham, scoring against Watford on 16th August before moving to Spurs on 31st August 2011. Parker handed in a hand written transfer request saying saying “I have had a fantastic four years at West Ham United and will never forget all the support I have had from the fans and everyone associated with the club.” “The manager and board have tried hard to convince me to stay but at this stage in my career, I need to be playing in the Premier League, especially now that I am involved with England.” “I hope the fans will understand and respect my decision and I wish the club every success in their fight for promotion this season.”

Latterly Parker spoke of his time at West Ham, and despite building a close affinity with the club and its fans, the former midfielder felt it necessary to move on for the benefit of his own career after relegation in 2011, but the connection remains strong.

“It’s a fantastic football club where I had four unbelievable seasons,” Parker has said “It ended in relegation but that disappointment will not dampen the memories I take from that place. The fanbase is incredible, Upton Park was a special place, so I’ve got many fond memories.”

Parkers playing time at Spurs was again limited due to injury for the start of the 2012-13 season after being named Player of the Year in the previous year. Scott moved to Fulham on 19th August 2013 and the Cottagers were relegated to the Championship. Parker retired from playing at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Journalist William Saletan wrote ”Parker doesn’t score or get credited with assists. He leaves that to the guys up front. What Parker does instead is win games. He does this not by punctuating the match but by controlling it. He smothers oncoming attacks. He forces opponents off the ball. He orchestrates distribution out of the back, setting in motion a Spurs onslaught that will culminate 60 yards downfield … You can’t watch the game up close without noticing Parker.”

Rice recently spoke highly of Parker, believing he has the ability to mimic Parker’s style of play:

If you look at Scott Parker and his career, I think he was so under-appreciated and he wasn’t spoken about enough, because he was actually such a top, top, top player.

“In terms of the way he played, he would rat around people, his passing ability was unbelievable and the way he used to lead the team showed he was a top player, so if I could have a career like Scott’s I’d be delighted.

“He was a fantastic player and a great person as well.”

Parker played arguable some of the best football of his career during his time at West Ham and as he hung up his boots he said:

“When was a boy I dreamt of becoming a professional football player and I feel very honoured to have accomplished my dream. I have always tried to set high standards on and off the pitch. I hope most of all throughout my career I have been a good role model not only to my sons but also to all of my teammates who played with me as well as all those who supported me.”

Enjoy Scott Parkers goals for West Ham.

Published by dawudmarsh

Photographer based in London.

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