From Capello's snub to leading his country… the rise of captain Parker
What an amazing rise to power. It was only in May 2010 that Scott Parker was considered too timid to secure a place in England’s World Cup squad.
Fabio Capello studied the then West Ham midfielder during that pre-tournament training camp in Austria and concluded he could offer nothing to his country in South Africa.
New man: Scott Parker poses in a photoshoot for FHM ahead of being named England captain
Not everyone on Capello’s staff agreed. Franco Baldini thought him the perfect alternative to Gareth Barry and given Barry’s fitness concerns, the then general manager of the England team would have had Parker on the plane.
The player himself, by then approaching 30, thought his chance with England had gone, not least because Capello had not even offered him the chance to impress in the pre-tournament warm-up matches.
But Parker responded by returning to West Ham and impressing week after week in the Barclays Premier League.
Leading the way: Parker trains with England at Wembley on the eve of the Holland match
His team were struggling, slipping
ever closer towards relegation, but Parker continued to battle in a
manner that made him a worthy recipient of the footballer writers’ Footballer of the Year award.
In the end, even Capello cracked, with a European qualifying encounter against Wales in March 2011 the audition that Parker had craved.
In the holding role he looked a natural, and a player capable of handling the pressure of international football, given how much was at stake for him personally that day.
Since then, Parker has established himself in the national team to the point where he is now one of the first names on the team-sheet. Jack Wilshere so enjoyed having him alongside him he urged Arsenal to buy him ahead of Tottenham last summer.
Decisions: Stuart Pearce chose Parker over Steven Gerrard (left) for the role
Read an interview with Scott Parker in this month’s FHM Collections supplement – free with FHM – on sale on Thursday
After a dreadful start to their
Barclays Premier League campaign, Tottenham won the transfer race for
Parker and his presence in the side proved pivotal in their rise up the table.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp certainly sees Parker as the most important signing he has made since arriving at White Hart Lane.
Stuart Pearce would have seen all of this as he would have seen how Parker has established himself among England’s international footballers.
He commands respect but he also has the qualities that Pearce has been talking about when discussing what he looks for in a skipper.
He is selfless, he is a team player and he also leads by example. As Alan Curbishley remarked at the Footballer of the Year dinner last May, he is also the last player who will need a super-injunction.
Clearly, Steven Gerrard would have been the popular choice and it will be interesting to see this evening against Holland if Parker’s selection as captain has been influenced by Pearce’s desire to start with Gerrard on the bench.
But even if the two midfielders do start alongside one another for the first time in an England shirt at Wembley, no one can deny that Parker is also perfect captaincy material.