Whatever happened to Paul Parker?

In a career that lasted over 15 years, Paul Parker was one of the finest English right-backs. Whenever I see Paul Parker or had the chance to watch him play the game, one of the things that always stood out was how he made up for his lack of height. At just 5ft 7in he must be one of the shortest players in the last 20 years. However, he made up for this with his ability and had that trait of being nippy just as many short players do. Even though he represented eight different clubs, Parker made his name at Manchester United and at two west London clubs in Fulham and Queens Park Rangers. So just what has happened to Paul Andrew Parker?

1982 was the year when Parker joined his first professional club- Fulham. He played in 153 games for the Cottagers before he went on to join neighbours QPR. The spell at the club lasted from 1987-1991, and with there being a World Cup in 1990 it gave Parker a chance to show he had the credentials to be part of England’s squad in Italy. After learning his trade with Fulham and having impressed with QPR, the then England manager Sir Bobby Robson took him to the World Cup. After having only played five games for his country, Parker was selected for England’s second match at the tournament. In the semi-final loss to West Germany the right-back set up a goal and also seemed to score an own goal.

By this time Parker had entered the final part of his QPR career as the 1990-91 season was to be his last one with the London club before Manchester United came calling. During his time at Old Trafford he helped the club win their famous title after waiting 26 years to have that feeling, in the 1992-93 season, and also won the Double of the league and FA Cup. United paid £2m for his services and Parker was to prove to be a success. Earlier in his career he had the versatility to play as a centre-back and even though he still possessed that skill at United he was primarily a right-back. After it started so well for Parker with a league cup success in 1992, the Premiership a year later and the Double a year after that, it was his inability to stay fit that probably cost him a lengthier career at United. As his England career drifted away, so to did his time at United by the time of the 1994-95 season. Gary Neville’s emergence meant that Parker was no longer first choice for club or country and, despite regaining fitness for the 1995-96 season, he was subsequently sold. His next destination was Derby County.

As so often happens to players that leave United, Parker found that the step down ultimately meant that he was no longer the same player. Over the course of the next year, along with Derby, Parker was to end up playing for Sheffield United, Chelsea and although he signed for Farnborough Town in 1997 he never played a game for them. The fact that a big club like Chelsea did not work out for Parker probably confirmed the fact that he retired from the game in the year of 1997.

Parker was to take the natural step of doing some coaching and went in to the non-league. He stayed in that region of football as he became manager of Chelmsford City in 2001 before going on to take charge of Welling United. His non-league connections have seen him become an ambassador for the Blue Square Premier League. He is also in the punditry field and uses that croaky voice of his on either MUTV or occasionally Sky Sports News.

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