Life begins at 30 for Scott Parker

Scott Parker has been a Premiership player for over 10 years, the subject of three multi-million pound transfers and made his international debut seven years ago, yet one day he may look back on his career and realise that it all really began on February 12, 2011. On this day, West Ham overturned a 3-0 half-time deficit to draw 3-3 with West Ham and, post-match, Carlton Cole revealed Parker to be the motivation behind their comeback. “We were diabolical, but at half-time Scott was inspirational, if you were there you would have had a tear in your eye,” claimed Cole, “sometimes you need your captain to step up like that.” He was duly awarded the player of the month award soon after, started his first competitive international fixture since 2006 against Wales in March and the campaign for him to be crowned player of the year is gathering momentum.

The rapid emergence of Jack Wilshire has also been very good for Parker’s England prospects, as this once in a generation talent will require protection on the pitch – the pair appear to be ideally suited and dovetailed perfectly on Saturday against Wales. Parker actually made his England debut back in 2003, replacing Wayne Rooney in a friendly loss to Denmark, starting on a bench containing the likes of Ian Walker, Danny Mills and James Beattie. His international career appeared to have received a terminal blow in the 2006 European Championship qualifier loss in Croatia, his reputation tarnished by his role in Steve McClaren’s ill-advised 5-3-2 formation.

The recent upturn in Parker’s career has been portrayed as something of a renaissance, but the truth is that he’s been performing to his current high standards for many years and should have featured more frequently on the international stage. His first four caps were received playing for four different clubs and despite his unique talents as a tenacious, ball-winning, box to box central midfielder, consecutive England managers have all looked elsewhere. He was deemed Charlton’s Player of the Year in 2003 and named PFA Young Player of the Year in 2004, he has also captained both Newcastle and West Ham. He has been named Hammer of the Year by West Ham’s fans in the last two seasons and will surely be a shoo-in for this season too. Had a mooted transfer to Tottenham Hotspur materialised, Parker’s current stock would surely be even higher, with Spurs in the midst of a memorable Champions League campaign.

With eight games to go and leaders Manchester United up next on Saturday, only goal difference currently stands between West Ham and the relegation zone and if West Ham manage to survive, much of the credit will go to Scott Parker. Having been unavailable for selection for the 2006 World Cup due to glandular fever, then selected for the preliminary squad for last summer’s World Cup but cut from the final selection, should England secure qualification and Parker maintain his current form, he has a very good chance of representing his country in Poland and Ukraine next year. Whether or not Parker is crowned Player of the Year, 2011 could still turn out to be the defining year of his career.

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