Ray Parlour is an Arsenal legend playing under Arsene Wenger and George Graham. In total for The Gunners, Parlour won three FA Premier League titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup and one European Cup Winners’ Cup having played 464 games, scoring 32 goals in all competitions. He also won ten England caps.
Layth Yousif caught up with Parlour recently – who joined the Arsenal away fans on the Barclays Buses earlier in the season, a free-travel initiative to say thank you for their support – for a quick chat for The Daisy Cutter where he talked Arsene Wenger, George Graham, Eileen Drewery and Tim Lovejoy…
With the FA Cup Final fast approaching what do you think of Arsene Wenger?
I love him to bits. His record speaks for itself, I owe him a lot just like I owe George Graham. I made my debut up at Anfield [In January 1992 in a 2-0 loss] and I actually gave away a penalty. I thought I was in big trouble but he was great to me. Mind you he didn’t mind tearing a strip off you if he thought it was needed! To be fair I owe a lot to both of them.
Is the Eileen Drewery story true?
[Parlour – upon being told to sit down by Eileen Drewery, acting as faith healer for Glenn Hoddle, the England manager at the time in the run-up to the 1998 World Cup in France – as she intended to place her hands on his head, quipped, ‘I’ll have a short back and sides please’. Co-incidentally – or not as the case may be – he was never picked for England again.]
The short back and sides story? [Emphatically] Yes. That was true yes. It might not have had anything to do with me not being picked for the World Cup in France 98 but I had one of my best seasons that year 1997/98 in the lead up to that tournament. I got man of the mantch in the FA Cup Final against Newcastle United [In a 2-0 win that clinched the double for Arsenal] .
I got player of the season for Arsenal that year and even if I wouldn’t have played in France I think I should have been in the squad for England for that tournament.
You only need a bit of luck then, to get on the pitch, to do well and keep your place, to score a goal for England – you just never know. It’s always your dream to play in a World Cup final tournament and obviously I didn’t play – whether that had anything to do with it, whether it’s because of that – well I don’t know [laughs]
Have you ever met Tim Lovejoy?
[Smiles] Yes I’ve met him at Ian Poulter’s stag do or something, he’s actually a good lad even if he has had loads of stick over the years for what he said!
[As all Gooners know, as the ball fell to Ray 30 yards out in the 2002 FA Cup Final against Chelsea at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, Soccer AM’s Tim Lovejoy shouted: “Don’t worry, it’s only Ray Parlour” as The Romford Pele memorably fired home from 30 yards to score the first goal in a 2-0 victory which clinched the FA Cup.]
I did send him a poster later on which said: “It’s only Ray Parlour” which was a little bit of fun but he’s actually a good lad – and to be fair it’s probably right what he said about me because if you look at the quality in our side, with the likes of Bobby Pires, Bergkamp, Henry, Vieira, people like that – they probably would have thought that they would be far more likely to score than me.
It’s funny but I used to score goals like that every week in training, I really did – but you always want to do it in a big game. Luckily enough it was a cracking goal – but it was an important goal too because I think at that time Chelsea were coming into it and Dave Seaman had made a couple of important saves that kept us in it. I think the first goal was always going to win the game for either side so luckily enough it was a very important goal for us to help win the FA Cup.
Ray Parlour was speaking after his trip with the Arsenal away fans on the Barclays Buses – a free-travel initiative from Barclays to say ‘thank you’ to groups of Barclays Premier League away fans that travel the length and breadth of the country supporting their team. Join the conversation on social media using #YouAreFootball and watch the full story at www.youtube.com/barclaysfootballtv
Layth is a freelance journalist who has written for The London Evening Standard, The Islington Gazette, Four-Four-Two, When Saturday Comes, & World Soccer amongst many others.
Follow him on twitter @laythy29