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'I realised that ultimately you get one shot at this football game' - Parrott takes flight beneath the radar

Troy Parrott has just turned 20 but has learned of football’s harsher realities on loan at MK Dons.

Troy Parrott, speaking to the Irish press.
Troy Parrott, speaking to the Irish press.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

NOT ALL PARROTTS repeat themselves: some are determined to discover something new. 

Hence Troy dropped down to League One for a third loan spell from Tottenham to meet the game’s harsher realities and learn more about himself. 

Third time’s a charm.

An initial Championship stint at Millwall carried such similarities to Harry Kane’s path that the clubs’ press departments disapproved of any questions toward Kane, but the outcome was altogether different and Parrott was bumped mid-season to League One Ipswich. Again that underwhelmed so this time Parrott went to MK Dons for what has proved to be altogether more fruitful. 

The start augured poorly: manager Russell Martin left to take the Swansea job the day after Parrott joined. But he worked his way into the favour of the new manager, Liam Manning, who has made Parrott a regular on the right of his three-man attack. That was a process, too: when Parrott saw red for an altercation against Leyton Orient in a Cup game in November, Manning publicly rebuked Parrott for a “lack of discipline.” 

A spell out of the team followed, but Parrott has re-established himself since the end of January and hasn’t played less than 70 minutes in any league games played since.

Manning has said the 20-year-old is maturing. 

“I’ve seen he’s said that and I agree with it”, says Parrott. “I think it’s just realising some stuff and growing up as a person and as a player.

“When I was in and out of the team I just realised that ultimately you get one shot at this football game, and where I was at the time wasn’t helping me get to where I wanted to get to and I realised I just needed to do more. I needed to be playing if I wanted to get to where I wanted to get to.”

He says it was just a case of knuckling down. 

“I didn’t need to change anything off the pitch. I was living how I should have been. I have my family around me which is good for me so most of it was just one the pitch stuff.”

“I think it was more just something in myself. I obviously wasn’t going to let it go by me, and [needed to] give it 110% every game. Obviously working hard for the team is what kept me in the team for a lot of those games, and the the goals and the assists will come if I keep giving it 110%.

Ultimately I think people go on loan to improve as a player and hope that it develops them in the long run, and seeing what League One and Championship is like is really good. I thought the levels would be a lot different when I first went out on loan but it turns out they’re not. The Championship is a really tough league and so is League One but I am just happy I am out and getting game time. 

“The last couple of pre-seasons I have done at Spurs so it is just picking up little things. I think the most important thing is how you train. You should train how you play and that’s one of the things I have picked up while I have been out on loan. I just try to give my best and try and be one of the best players in training when I get back.” 

While admitting he wants to add more goals and assists to his game – he has five goals and three assists this season – Parrott is also adamant they will come as a consequence of his work rate. 

He is also relaxed about his decision to leave Spurs on loan, in spite of Antonio Conte arriving and becoming impressed with another academy product, Dane Scarlett. 

“I’m not really worried on that to be fair. I’m out, I am playing a lot of games and gathering as much experience as I can and hopefully it will do me the world of good when I get back.” 

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tottenham-hotspur-v-burnley-premier-league-tottenham-hotspur-stadium Parrott is given the match ball by his then-manager Jose Mourinho after his Premier League debut. Source: Daniel Hambury

He will return to Spurs at the end of this season, and says his ambition remains to break into their first team. 

 The shorter-term focus is t0 impress Stephen Kenny, as he has linked up with the Irish squad ahead of Saturday’s friendly against Belgium and the subsequent clash with Lithuania on Tuesday. 

“It’s always big”, he says at the prospect of a tenth senior international cap. “Playing for Ireland is the peak, what you grow up dreaming to do. I just love every appearance that I make.” 

A new episode of The Front Row, in partnership with Guinness, is out now. After Ireland’s Triple Crown win, Murray Kinsella gives us the rundown on his team of the tournament. Ireland international Sene Naoupu also joins the panel to chat about her career and look ahead to the start of the Women’s Six Nations. Click here to subscribe or listen below:

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Gavin Cooney

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