|Full name||Raymond Parlour|
|Date of birth||7 March 1973|
|Place of birth||Romford, England|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
He spent his career playing for Arsenal, Middlesbrough, Hull City. During his Arsenal career he was nicknamed "The Romford Pelé"; although the nickname was given with an ironic sense of humour, on account of his solid performance but unglamorous image. He has been described as an "unsung hero" and praised as a "fans' favourite" for his high-energy performances. He is now a pundit on television, as well as on radio stations BBC Radio 5 Live and Talksport. In 2012 Parlour briefly came out of retirement to play for Wembley in the club's FA Cup fixtures.
Parlour is most famous for his time at Arsenal, where he played for 14 years. He joined Arsenal as a trainee in 1989, and made his debut for the Gunners against Liverpool on 29 January 1992, where he conceded a penalty in a 2–0 defeat. Parlour continued to be a bit-part player for the next few years, and was more noted for several disciplinary problems (such as a run-in with a Hong Kong taxi driver while on tour). He did however make 12 appearances for the England U21 team during this time.
He properly broke through in 1994–95, and played in Arsenal's European Cup Winners' Cup final loss to Real Zaragoza that season (having been an unused sub in the Gunners' 1–0 triumph over Parma the previous season). However, Parlour only fully developed as a player after the arrival of Arsène Wenger as manager in 1996; he became a regular fixture playing on the right wing or in central midfield for Arsenal; in 1997–98 Arsenal won the Double and Parlour proved instrumental. He was man-of-the-match in the Gunners' FA Cup Final win over Newcastle United that season; he set up Nicolas Anelka for Arsenal's second goal in a 2–0 win. However, he missed out on the 1998 World Cup that summer (England coach Glenn Hoddle preferring Spurs' Darren Anderton instead).
Parlour finally made his England debut as a substitute in a Euro 2000 qualifier against Poland on 27 March 1999. He won ten caps for his country but did not score any goals; the closest he came was in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Finland on 11 October 2000. Parlour 'scored' with a 30-yard strike which hit the crossbar and was incorrectly designated by the linesman not to have gone over the goal-line; the match finished 0–0. Parlour did not feature in any tournament finals; a knee injury forced him to withdraw from England's squad for Euro 2000. His final cap came in a friendly against Italy on 15 November 2000; Parlour was called up into the squad several times by new coach Sven-Göran Eriksson, but he never made it onto the pitch under the Swede.
Parlour continued to enjoy success with Arsenal for another four years (winning another Double in 2002), but generally received little acclaim in the media compared with many of his more illustrious Arsenal team-mates, especially as he was almost constantly living in the shadow of Patrick Vieira for much of his time at the club. He finally claimed his place in the spotlight with a 30-yard strike to open the scoring in the 2002 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, which was famously pre-empted by Soccer AM's Tim Lovejoy with "Don't worry, it's only Ray Parlour"; Arsenal won 2–0, with the second goal from Fredrik Ljungberg. In total, with Arsenal, Parlour won three FA Premier League titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup and one European Cup Winners' Cup having played 464 games and scoring 32 goals in all competitions.
In March 2000, he hit a hattrick in a 4–2 away win at Werder Bremen in a UEFA Cup quarter final tie. Arsenal went on to reach the final of the competition that year. Parlour was the only Arsenal player successful from the spot in their shootout defeat to Galatasaray. Seven months later, he followed it up with another hattrick in a 5–0 demolition of Newcastle United at Highbury. In April 2001, he struck a spectacular 30-yard winner as Arsenal beat Valencia 2–1 in the UEFA Champions' League quarter-final 1st leg tie at Highbury. Another one of Parlour's finest moments in Arsenal colours came in November 2003, when as stand-in captain, he led Arsenal to a famous 5–1 win against Internazionale at San Siro. Finally, one of the crowning moments of Parlour's career was his goal from 30 yards in the 2002 FA Cup Final against Chelsea. These performances over the years have led many Arsenal fans to believe that he is one of the most under-rated players of his generation.
In July 2004, Parlour signed for Premier League club Middlesbrough on a free transfer. He signed a three-year contract at The Riverside. He played 60 games for Boro in two and a half years, and was an unused substitute in Middlesbrough's appearance in the 2006 UEFA Cup Final against Sevilla, which they lost 4–0. Parlour was released from his contract on 25 January 2007 and for a brief period trained with old club Arsenal to regain fitness with a view to finding a new club.
On 9 February 2007, he signed for Hull City until the end of the 2006–07 season. After helping City avoid relegation, it was confirmed on 1 June that Parlour was not offered a new contract and this meant he was released.
Parlour has emerged as one of the most influential players for The England Legends, a 16-man squad of former internationals who have played Italy, Germany, Scotland, Ireland and The Rest of The World.
In June 2012, he was one of several former professional footballers who agreed to join Wembley F.C. to play in their FA Cup campaign for the new season. Parlour and fellow former-internationals Graeme Le Saux, Martin Keown, Claudio Caniggia, and Brian McBride, plus David Seaman (goalkeeping coach) and former England manager Terry Venables (technical advisor), have come out of retirement to play for Wembley F.C. who will be featured in a television documentary as they endeavour to help the club play at Wembley Stadium. Wembley were knocked out in a replay by Uxbridge after initially setting up the tie by knocking Langford out in the previous round.
Parlour married his wife Karen in 1998; the couple had three children before separating in 2001. In July 2004, they agreed a divorce settlement which awarded Karen Parlour two houses and a £250,000 lump sum but the issue of maintenance was not agreed. Ray Parlour offered Karen £120,000 p.a. on the basis that this would meet all of her and their children's needs, but she wanted more. Initially the court awarded her £212,500 a year, but both parties were unsatisfied with this and appealed.
The Court of Appeal increased Karen's award to £440,000 p.a. However, this would only be paid for five years to enable her to put aside £250,000 each year to build up her own capital resources. The case brought with it media speculation that future divorce cases would bring people a more equal share in their former partner's future earnings, and a possible increased usage of prenuptial agreements.
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
(* Includes FA Cup match against Sheffield United of which the result was declared void, but Arsenal still include it in their statistics.)
- Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2003). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2003/2004. Queen Anne Press. p. 330. ISBN 1-85291-651-6.
- "Player Profile: Ray Parlour". Premier League. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- "Fan's Favourite – Ray Parlour". Arsenal Land. Retrieved 17 February 2007.
- "Parlour keen to meet his old friends". Independent on Sunday. 22 August 2004.[dead link]
- "Unsung heroes: Ray Parlour". Square Football. Retrieved 17 February 2007.
- "Ray Parlour profile". BBC Sport. 7 July 2004. Retrieved 17 February 2007.
- "England endure scoreless draw with Finland". RTÉ.
- "Arsenal Fans Talk About Under-rated Players". onlinearsenal.com.
- "Middlesbrough sign Parlour". BBC Sport (British Broadcast Corporation). 23 July 2004. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "Boro release Parlour". SkySports.com.
- "Tigers add Parlour's experience". BBC Football. 9 February 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- "Parlour not offered Hull contract". BBC Football. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- "The England Legends".[dead link]
- "Terry Venables' Wembley FC recruit former stars for FA Cup". BBC Sport. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- Silverman, Jon (7 July 2004). "Q&A: Karen Parlour divorce case". BBC News. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- Soar, Phil & Tyler, Martin (2005). The official illustrated history of Arsenal 1886–2005 Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-61344-5
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