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'Nothing fazes him' - Ireland's 16-year-old striker who has the world at his feet

Tottenham teenager Troy Parrott could have a big future in the game if his recent form is anything to go by.

Parrott up against Inter Milan's Irish defender Ryan Nolan in the Uefa Youth League.
Parrott up against Inter Milan's Irish defender Ryan Nolan in the Uefa Youth League.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

2018 WAS THE year Irish football fans stood up and took notice of Troy Parrott.

Still only 16, the boy from Buckingham Street in Dublin’s north inner city has shone at underage for both club and country to earn a reputation as one of the hottest young prospects in the game.

He was the star of Colin O’Brien’s Ireland team that reached the quarter-finals of the U17 European Championships back in May — scoring three goals before they bowed out to eventual winners the Netherlands in controversial circumstances.

Swiftly promoted to the U19s, the striker bagged four goals in three games to help the Boys in Green qualify for the elite qualifying stages. That side, which features the likes of Adam Idah (Norwich City), Aaron Bolger (Shamrock Rovers) and Lee O’Connor (Manchester United) topped their group thanks to a 2-1 victory over the Dutch.

A product of Dublin District Schoolboy League outfit Belvedere, Parrott reportedly received interest from the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Celtic, before deciding that Tottenham was the best place to step up his development.

Having agreed to join the north London club in 2017, he made the switch across full-time and signed his first professional contract over the summer.

Source: FAI TV/YouTube

Darragh O’Reilly, who coached Parrott at Belvo for six years alongside the likes of Brandon Holt (St Patrick’s Athletic) and Alex Dunne (Shamrock Rovers), remembers chatting to the youngster when he and his family had a big decision to make.

“Troy went over to a few different clubs when the interest started,” O’Reilly tells The42. “Each time he came back from Spurs, I’d be asking how he got on and you could tell straight away that he liked it there.

“The family he’s living with are very nice and his own family were happy with him going over to stay there.”

O’Reilly recalls coming across Troy for the first time as a boy. He had been playing the year above his age group and immediately caught the eye. 

“You could see from early on that he had a bit about him,” he explains.

He’s a quiet lad until he has something to say, and he would have been popular with his team-mates over the years. He’s just an all-round good kid, who was never any bother to any of us.

“Troy is confident without being arrogant, and he takes things in his stride — whether that is training or playing games. He would do some outrageous things with a football and then laugh it off. It just come naturally to him.

“Whenever he is in a pressure situation, nothing fazes him. He’s still like that now.”

Troy Parrott and Bram Franken Facing the Dutch with Ireland's U17s. Source: Simon Stacpoole/INPHO

Deployed mainly as a centre forward and, occasionally, on the left side of a front three, Parrott had a knack for scoring goals but his willingness to close down and lead the line with tireless running is what often set him apart.

“He’s always been hard-working,” adds O’Reilly. “You can see it in the way he plays now. He’s not the kind of player who will just wait up front and take all the glory. One of the things that stands out is how much of a shift he puts in.

“For a kid who was always one of the most talented in his group, he has a remarkable team ethic. It was never ‘me, me, me’. If he was moved to a different position, he would slot in not a bother — he just got on with it.

I can’t emphasise it enough, he was a pleasure to coach and I wouldn’t be the only one to say that. His attitude is great off the pitch too, so he deserves what he is getting now.”

In a relatively short space of time, the teenager appears to have adjusted remarkably well to life at Spurs. 

This season, he has scored nine goals and created three assists in six matches for their U18s, which led to a string of appearances for the reserves. 

It is in the Uefa Youth League (the equivalent of the Champions League for U19s), however, that Parrott has arguably made the biggest impact.

A number of fine performances and goals against Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven have earned him rave reviews from Tottenham fans. 

A front man who can hold up the ball well and bring others into play, he shares the same agency as Harry Kane (Unique Sports Management), and recently earned comparisons with the Spurs and England skipper after his display against Millwall in the FA Youth Cup.

Source: JakeMantonTHFC/YouTube

Granted, it is extremely early days in his professional career. We have seen Irish players such as Conor Clifford and Jack Byrne unable to fulfill their true potential in recent years, having been tipped for big things after blossoming in the youth teams of top Premier League clubs.  

O’Reilly knows Parrott has yet to achieve anything in the game, but his future looks bright if he can continue to develop over the coming seasons. 

“He was always talented within his own age group but you never really know how far they’re going to go. I would have had hopes privately that he could go on and fulfill his potential, but you can’t take it for granted.

“Considering he’s only there full-time less than a year, he’s flying at the moment. You have to remember he’s still only 16 and he has a long way to go. He would tell you the same himself as he’s a very level-headed young lad.

You would ask him how a game went and you’d know you weren’t going to get a rose-tinted view of it. He would tell you if he had a good or a bad game. That’s a good quality to have.”

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino rates Parrott highly and promoted him to the first-team squad for the Premier League trip to face Leicester City earlier this month. 

With a forward line worth hundreds of millions in front of him, breaking into the side will be enormously difficult and, like many young players, he may have to drop down a league or two to get first-team experience. 

“I keep in touch with him fairly regularly,” says O’Reilly, who is currently coaching Bangkok FC’s U19s and U15s. “When I found out about him getting into Tottenham’s first-team squad for the Leicester game I called him up and again over the weekend. The following day he was travelling to Barcelona.

“He always wanted to play football full-time and he does seem to be enjoying it now. He has earned that chance so good luck to him.”

It’s 20 years since the recently-reappointed Mick McCarthy handed a 17-year-old Robbie Keane his international debut. While Parrott hasn’t yet done nearly enough to warrant his first senior Ireland cap, he has got time on his side and it would be remiss of the Ireland manager not to closely monitor the striker’s progress going forward. 

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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