Sunday 23 September 2018

Ireland U-17 star Parrott dreams of imitating Kane success at Spurs

Ireland's Troy Parrott. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Troy Parrott. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

For someone who plays with his socks down and chin up, Troy Parrott carries a refreshing outlook in an era when the fabric of football in this country is being questioned.

Damien Duff has justifiably cited the onset of the digital age as counterproductive to producing players, a trend his previous manager Brian Kerr highlighted in his Irish Independent column.

The natural habitat for youngsters to learn the basics of the game by practising on a daily basis in their locality has long gone.

Fortunately for the Irish game, Parrott didn't conform to social changes during his upbringing.

Just as Wes Hoolahan from nearby Portland Row did, the younger graduate from the same Belvedere club filled his free time away from the PlayStation on open ground mastering the football.

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane could appreciate on Tuesday the nonchalance with which the now 16-year-old has as his hallmark.

Few players on the pitch would have, with only five minutes gone, dared to try their luck with an audacious 25-yard shot which swept into the Denmark net for the only goal of Ireland's second game at the U-17 European Championship finals.

Kerr has wondered aloud whether we'll see the likes of Wes again in an Ireland team but, while he possesses different attributes, the armoury of Parrott is encouraging.

Hoolahan was always one of the smallest on his team yet Parrott's imposing figure doesn't make him look out of place a year ahead of his age-group for the U-17s.

That's one of the reasons why, unlike Hoolahan, a major Premier League side in Tottenham Hotspur made it a priority to broker a three-year pre-agreement for the Dubliner when he was just 14.

"Wes is from my area and I've had a chat with his father a few times," explained the teen from Buckingham Street in Dublin's north inner city.

"Although I'd say our styles aren't similar, Wes is a brilliant player. Whether I was out on the road or in the local park with my mates, I enjoyed having the ball at my feet. My mother couldn't get me in off the street every day.

"Becoming a professional footballer is all I've ever hoped for. I don't want to do anything else."

Parrott's background should make his imminent transition into a full-time environment at Tottenham more manageable.

His commitments with the international squad will extend into next week at the earliest should Ireland avoid defeat in their final Group C game against Bosnia-Herzegovina tomorrow.

Awaiting them in the quarter-finals on Monday would be a Netherlands team that have beaten Germany (3-0) and Spain (2-0) in their first two games.

Getting the chance to test himself against the Dutch won't faze a player capable of delivering on the big stage.

"I'm well used to playing against older players by now," said Parrott, eligible again for next year's tournament which Ireland qualify automatically for as hosts.

"Stepping up to U-17 level this season is an experience I've really enjoyed and want to help the team qualify from this group. We'll be going for the win against Bosnia, no matter what's needed to get us through."

The broader picture for Parrott is the aim of becoming the first Irish player to make an impact at Spurs since Robbie Keane.

The former Ireland captain's eventual replacement up front, Harry Kane, is the poster boy for the club's academy and Parrott believes he's in the best place to achieve his objective.

"I was always a Liverpool fan but Tottenham won my heart," said the recently-crowned FAI U-15 Player of the Year.

"Harry Kane has done unbelievably well for them and he's someone I look up to and can learn from him as a striker.

"With the staff and top players around me at Spurs, I know I'll have the best chance of progressing at. They're a club that have always brought young players into the first team."

Irish Independent

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