||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2010)|
|Full name||Garry Ronald Parker|
|Date of birth||7 September 1965|
|Place of birth||Oxford, England|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
(first team coach)
|2001||Leicester City (caretaker)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
As a player he was a midfielder from 1983 to 2001, notably in the Premier League for Aston Villa and Leicester City. He also played for Luton Town, Hull City and Nottingham Forest. He was capped by his country at under-21 and B international level. In 2001 he became caretaker manager of Leicester City.
Parker was a cultured midfield player through whom teams would gain their creativity in goalscoring chances. He signed as an apprentice with Luton Town in 1982 and made his first team debut the following year.
Parker's progress under David Pleat at Luton was gradual owing to the presence in the midfield of England international Ricky Hill. Although Parker featured in 33 League matches over the next two seasons – plus a starting place in the 1985 FA Cup semi final defeat to Everton – he became frustrated at the lack of regular football and looked for a move in the summer of 1986.
Parker joined Hull City, a club outside the top flight, who were managed at the time by Parker's former captain at Luton, Brian Horton. At Hull he was an automatic choice and rebuilt his career to the extent that he was called up to play for England at under-21 level. His only downside was a lack of goals – he didn't score at all in his first two seasons at Hull. His third season, however, racked up eight goals – including a memorable clincher at rivals Leeds United and a free kick against Plymouth Argyle in what turned out to be his last game for the club. A 260,000 pound offer came in from Nottingham Forest. This was accepted by Hull and so, in the spring of 1988, Parker was back in top-flight football.
Parker struggled to make the team initially at Forest, with Brian Clough preferring a partnership of England internationals Neil Webb and Steve Hodge in the centre of midfield. However, over the Christmas period of 1988, he was given a role on the left wing and proved so successful that he stayed there for the rest of the season. He wasn't an orthodox winger – he didn't have great pace to beat full backs – but he had good crossing ability as well as his known eye for an incisive pass, and this galvanised Forest's midfield.
Parker won his first domestic honour that season as Forest won the League Cup at Wembley, beating his old club Luton. He had scored the winning goal in the semi final against Bristol City. A week after winning the League Cup, he was in the Forest team which took to the field for an FA Cup semi final against Liverpool which was abandoned as the Hillsborough disaster unfolded. He was in the team for the game when it was re-scheduled at Old Trafford, although Forest lost 3–1 and he was substituted.
He also scored twice at Wembley as Forest took the dimly-remembered Full Members Cup in a 4–3 win over Everton. One of Parker's goals was a full-length run of the Wembley pitch with the ball at his feet after it was cleared to him on the edge of his own penalty area. But for the relative insignificance of the occasion, the goal would be recalled as one of the stadium's best.
Webb left Forest for Manchester United that summer and Clough paid Leeds United three-quarters of a million pounds for John Sheridan, a Republic of Ireland international midfielder as an earmarked replacement, but Parker had already taken a chance to fill Webb's role in the centre of midfield – his preferred position – and Sheridan was unable to get a game. Three months later he was sold on to Sheffield Wednesday and Parker remained in place. He was in the side as Forest retained the League Cup at Wembley with a 1–0 win over Oldham Athletic.
The next season, Parker maintained his midfield place and when a teenage Irish midfielder called Roy Keane emerged at Forest, again it was the international star – this time Hodge – and not Parker who made way in the midfield. Parker played one of his best games for Forest as they defeated West Ham United 4–0 in the FA Cup semi final. It was his third such game (after the semi finals of 1985 and 1989) and the first in which he had emerged victorious.
The following season, Parker was sold to Aston Villa and was a hit in their midfield, contributing to the team which came close to winning the FA Premier League in 1993. He later struggled to maintain a place in the side under Ron Atkinson and was sold in February 1995 to Leicester City, by which time Brian Little (who had arrived at Villa from Leicester) had taken over from the dismissed Atkinson.
His first season ended in relegation, but they bounced back through the play-offs the following year (with Parker scoring in the final), and Parker won his third League Cup winners medal when Leicester defeated Middlesbrough in the 1997 final after a replay.
Parker's last game for Leicester was in 1999.
In the 1990/91 season, Parker was called up once by England coach Graham Taylor to the full squad, although he didn't feature in the team and never won a full cap, although a number of appearances at 'B' level came his way.
Parker retired as a player and joined the coaching staff at Leicester after a brief spell as a peg salesman. He took over briefly as caretaker manager after the sacking of Peter Taylor in 2001. His only match in charge was a 6–0 League Cup loss to Leeds United.
- "Garry Parker Leicester City FC". Football Heroes. Sporting Heroes Collections. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
- Courtney, Barrie (10 January 2004). "England – U-21 International Results 1986–1995 – Details". RSSSF. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
- Courtney, Barrie (21 March 2004). "England – International Results B-Team – Details". RSSSF. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
- Mjallby, Thompson and Parker team up with Lennon Celtic FC, 1 July 2010