Hammer time for Parker

Known for his bite in the tackle and his willingness to get forward, Scott Parker began to earn plaudits early in his career and an England cap added to his value, writes Andy Hampson.

Former Charlton and Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker recently returned to London to join West Ham after a spell with another Barclays English Premier League club, Newcastle.

Parker was rated as one of England's brightest prospects as he grew up in London and came through the ranks at Charlton.

He graduated from the Football Association's now-defunct School of Excellence and had his first brush with fame at the age of 13 when he appeared in a TV commercial for McDonald's juggling with a ball.

He made his debut for the Addicks as a 16-year-old in August 1997 and signed his first professional contract soon after. It took him a while to establish himself, however, and he made only limited appearances over the next three years.

After Charlton were promoted to the Premier League, Parker moved to Norwich on loan in October 2000 to gain some first-team experience. It proved a success and when he returned to The Valley he managed to win a place in Alan Curbishley's side after captain Mark Kinsella suffered an injury. He took full advantage of his opportunity and soon went on to become a key member of the Charlton side. Known for his bite in the tackle and his willingness to get forward, he began to earn plaudits and it was not long before he was being linked with moves elsewhere. An England cap added to his value.

He held off other clubs for some time but eventually could not resist the lure of billionaire-backed Chelsea and their great potential. He moved across the English capital in what proved to be an acrimonious GBP10 million transfer in January 2004. Charlton did their best to keep him, as their reigning Young Player of the Year, but Parker's determination to leave led to him falling out with his boyhood club.

The move proved a bad one as he struggled to break into the Blues' side amid fierce competition. He made only 28 appearances and despite Chelsea winning the Premier League in 2005, he left for Newcastle for GBP6.5 million after just a year and a half.

Newcastle offered him the chance to revive his career and he took it to once again emerge as one of the Premier League's most potent midfielders. Injuries, however, curtailed him and a bout of glandular fever cost him the chance to compete for a place in England's World Cup squad last year.

He returned to form in 2006-07 and took over the Newcastle captaincy. He also returned to the England fold as he enjoyed a strong season but decided, for personal reasons, at the end of the campaign to return to London.

West Ham paid GBP7 million for his services, the move reuniting him with his former manager Curbishley.

Parker is married with three children, the third of whom was born shortly before he completed his move to the Hammers. He cited his family as one of the reasons why he wished to return to London.

Many cynics claimed they could have told Parker that his move to Chelsea would end in disappointment. The Blues offered the prospect of Premier League titles and UEFA Champions League football, but the reality was that he had to compete with international stars such as Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele for a place.

Parker made an encouraging start but he found himself marginalised early in the 2004-05 season and then a broken foot sustained in December of that campaign effectively ended his Blues career. Parker has splashed out somewhere in the region of GBP98,000 for a Porsche 911 Turbo. The stylish but exclusive sports car has a top speed of 192mph.

FACTFILE Name: Scott Parker

Position: Midfielder Club: West Ham DOB: 13/10/1980 England caps: 3 England goals: 0 England debut: v Denmark, November 2003

Moment to remember

Parker rescued Newcastle in a Carling Cup tie last November with an extra-time equaliser at Watford. The midfielder struck in the 116th minute at Vicarage Road as the Magpies forced the game to penalties at 2-2. Parker then scored from the spot as Newcastle won the shoot-out.

Moment to forget

Parker generally impressed at Newcastle until he was deemed surplus to requirements by new manager Sam Allardyce. There was one sour note, however, when Parker upset fans with a gesture last November. He sarcastically applauded the crowd as they booed the Newcastle players following a defeat by Sheffield United. "I know I shouldn't have done what I did at St. James' Park and I can only apologise to our supporters," he said later.

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