My piece on Troy Parrott – Far more than just a goalscorer:
Back in the year 1897 a young man from County Wicklow in Ireland made the trip across the water to England, to try and forge a career in the beautiful game. That gentleman’s name was Jack Kirwan and he was the first ever Irishman to play for Spurs, for those of you who are good with your history then you will know that Kirwan was an important member of our 1901 FA cup winning side after joining the Lilywhites from Everton in 1899. Some 120 years later another young Irishman is following in the footsteps of the legendary outside left, at a club which has such a strong connection with the country of Ireland. This young mans name is Troy Daniel Parrott, and for many Spurs fans his name will need no introduction. I first heard the name Troy Parrott back in the February of 2017. I was at the Lamex Stadium in Stevenage waiting for our FA youth cup fifth round tie against Norwich City to start, when I decided to flick through an Irish newspaper. In this particular newspaper there was a story claiming that Spurs had signed a young Dubliner and Ireland under 15 international called Troy Parrott, from Dublin club Belvedere FC. In this article it had claimed that Spurs had fought off a whole host of top clubs to secure the young centre forwards signature. Due to the frequency of such stories which are published in tabloid newspapers I was sceptical to begin with. However, after a little bit more research I found out that the highly sought after teenager was covering a lot of inches in the sports pages of many a Dublin newspaper. I also found out that he had already been on trial with a number of top clubs in both England and Scotland, of which included Everton, Celtic and Southampton to name but a few. Parrott of Buckingham street in Dublin’s north inner city was starring for renowned Irish schoolboy club Belvedere FC on a weekly basis, the physical and highly competitive centre forward, to put it quite mildly, was scoring goals for fun and he was attracting the attention of many a top club in the process. However, it was Mauricio Pochettino’s club who had managed to convince the young Irishman to join them. Since joining Spurs as a schoolboy during the 2016/17 season the former O’Connell school pupil has seen his reputation grow amongst the Tottenham supporters despite his young age.
Parrott was a regular for our under 16’s during his first season at the club, but he would only hit the headlines for his achievements for both the Ireland under 15 and 16 national team that season. During the 2017/18 season Troy Parrott represented Ireland at the prestigious Victory Shield, he would also go on to play for their under 17 side, where he played a big part in helping them to qualify for the 2018 Under 17 European Championships in England. Parrott would go on to score three goals for his country at the tournament, helping Ireland to reach the quarter finals of the competition, I attended three of the matches that Parrott was involved in. However, I am not prepared to go on about their infamous elimination to the Netherlands! The 2017/18 season was also a big one for Troy at Spurs, after starting the season in our under 16 side the Dubliner would have to wait until the February of 2018 before he could make the step up to Scott Parker’s under 18 side, as he had to wait until his 16th birthday before he could represent them. Shortly after turning 16 Parrott made his under 18 league debut, completing 90 minutes of a 0-0 draw with Swansea City. For many Spurs fans it was the first time that they would have heard of the young Irishman. Parrott put in a very competitive performance against Swansea, impressing with his movement, work rate and willingness to get stuck in and bring other players into the game. The schoolboy would go on to feature on three more occasions for Parker’s under 18 side that season, most notable of which was his inclusion in the starting 11 for our Under 18 Premier League Cup Final against Chelsea, in the absence of our top scorer that season, Reo Griffiths. Parrott would score his first goal for our under 18’s in a 2-1 league win over London rivals Fulham, in April 2018. Troy also netted a remarkable ten goals from five appearances for a Spurs under 17 side at the Borgaro Maggioni Righi tournament in Italy that Easter. The teenager would then go on to star for his country at the Under 17 European Championships before returning to Spurs to represent our under 19 side, at the post season Terborg tournament, before he enjoyed a well earned summer break.
Troy signed his two year scholarship at Spurs during the summer of 2017 and since returning to training at Hotspur Way in July, Parrott has made remarkable strides for Spurs so far during the 2018/19 campaign. The physical centre forward spent majority of that pre season with our development side, featuring first for them in a friendly against non league club Enfield Town, before then going on to link up with Wayne Burnett’s side in France for the annual Tournoi Europeen. Parrott was the only first year scholar to travel out to France with our development side and he got plenty of game time for Burnett’s team. Despite not managing to score from open play, Parrott impressed against much older and more physical players. He certainly held his own. The young Dubliner has come a long way since last summers tournament in Brittany. Parrott has made ten competitive appearances for our under 18 side so far this season, netting 12 goals and assisting a further six for our high flying under 18’s. In addition, Troy has already made nine appearances for our development side since making his PL2 debut against Liverpool at Anfield, back in August. The tall centre forward has also featured prominently for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League, scoring three goals from five appearances in the competition this season. His impressive performances at youth level for Spurs and for Ireland at under 19 level, has also resulted in him being named as the 19th man for Mauricio Pochettino’s first team on a number of occasions this season. Parrott’s statistics at youth level for Spurs during the 2018/19 campaign make impressive reading. The Ireland under 19 international has been directly involved in 24 goals from 24 appearances for the various Spurs youth teams this season. As somebody who has watched Troy play extensively for our various youth teams and for his country at youth level, I will be going in to great detail about Parrott the footballer in the following piece, as I talk about this special young talents qualities as one of Spurs‘ most promising Academy players.
Although Parrott has played in numerous positions he is a traditional centre forward in the Harry Kane mould. However, he has also shown that he is adept at playing in central midfield, out on either flank and as a number ten or CAM. The 17 year old from Dublin’s north inner city is a very physical and tall centre forward who doesn’t allow centre backs to bully him. I don’t like to draw comparisons with young players to household names in the game however, one of Troy’s footballing heroes is a certain Harry Kane. And it is the Tottenham centre forward who he reminds me of the most in regards to his style of play. Young Troy is a centre forward who possesses a tremendous work rate, and he has a wonderful understanding of the game for somebody so young. Parrott is an aggressive and tigerish number nine who likes to get in the faces of opposition defenders. Parrott is what I would call a confrontational centre forward and he manages to do that without being arrogant. He is constantly high pressing and always on the move. Like Kane he likes to drop deep to influence the game and he can often be seen all over the pitch, particularly inside his own half helping out the defenders. Some of the Dubliners most impressive traits include his ability to hold the ball up well, his razor sharp movement, unselfishness, versatility, vision, passing and his clinical finishing. It’s very difficult to describe Parrott as a centre forward because he is such a well rounded player who is always very adaptable to games. He scores all different kinds of goals, from instinctive poachers finishes to bullet headers and outrageous free kicks. I like how he plays with both flair and grit, although he is still a student of the game I personally find it quite remarkable how good his all round game is. In terms of his finishing ability I think that he is one of the best finishers from his age group in the country alongside Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood. Parrott is a very intelligent striker and if like me you watch his off the ball movement during matches, then you will appreciate just how good his positioning and awareness is. He likes to mix up his game but no matter what kind of game it is he always makes sure that he is involved in the thick of the action.
Parrott is a good poacher and a lot of his goals come from inside the oppositions penalty area. He is constantly on alert, peeling off the shoulders of defenders or trying to make runs in and behind them. He has the ability to sort his feet out quickly and to adjust his body in time, the 17 year old is also relatively quick over four or five yards, just like a certain Robbie Keane was. He likes to strike the ball early and when he finds himself in a one on one situation with the goalkeeper, I like how composed he manages to be. Another Kane-esque trait of Troy’s is his ability to get the ball out of his feet quickly before striking it. Parrott is good in the air and he has scored a number of goals with his head this season, he is also an expert penalty taker and a real threat from set pieces with his trademark, side footed, up and over the wall free kicks. The first year scholar is good at timing his runs and he reads the game well, and he is one of those players who is constantly looking over his shoulder. The vast majority of Parrott’s goals this season have been what you would call poachers finishes. In addition to his clinical finishing and movement, Troy is a very positive player who likes to try his luck on goal from long range. However, the Dublin born centre forward is a lot more than just a goalscorer. So often when I’ve seen Parrott play I’ve been impressed by how unselfish he is, and how he try’s to bring other players into the game. Linking back to his footballing brain, the 17 year old who can always play as a number ten, has quite often been the game changer for our under 18’s this season. He is a very creative player who is good at spotting and picking out teammates, who are in good positions (Troy has assisted nine goals in all competitions so far this season). He also has a good range of passing, as well as an impressive array of skills. Parrott is a good dribbler and his close ball control is yet another of his many impressive traits. On the field Troy is a very confident young man who is a natural born leader and an effective communicator, he is also a very passionate player who won’t stand for any nonsense from the opposing teams players. Some of you may remember Troy getting himself sent off for our under 23’s in their PL2 match against Arsenal back in August, after he decided to shove the ‘ Gunners ‘ captain Julio Pleguezuelo to the floor in second half stoppage time.
For all of Parrott’s natural talent and his impressive goal scoring statistics and assists that have helped get him to where he is today, there is one part of his game which is even more impressive. That aspect of his game is his extraordinary work rate and stamina. Like his fellow countryman James McClean, Parrott is one of the hardest workers you’ll ever see on a football pitch. He is always on the move, pressing players aggressively and tracking back after him to help out the team. Troy is a real team player and it is his unselfishness and desire to get stuck in and go out of his way to help out his teammates, which is something which leave him in very good stead over the coming years, as it’s something that Mauricio Pochettino will love. Back in December our under 18’s faced Leicester City in a league game at the ‘ Foxes ‘ Belvoir Drive training centre. Deep into the second half of the game we were were leading 4-0 with Troy scoring two of our goals. The Dubliner had worked his socks of all game and even though we were in total control of the game he could be seen tracking back the whole length of the pitch to make a challenge on a Leicester player inside the Spurs box, before then driving forward with the ball. That is just one of many examples of Troy’s excellent work ethic, which I could use from this season alone. The proud Irishman has demonstrated extraordinary maturity during his time at the club, he has shown that he can do the unexpected in games, score goals and create chances while also working his socks off like a young Harry Kane. Once a keen GAA player Troy seems to have incorporated that toughness into his game as a footballer. There is a lot of hype which has been surrounding young Troy this season from the media as well as from Spurs fans. And while the hype is completely justified some of it is a bit too much to heap on such a young and developing player. Parrott is currently recovering from an operation on one of his toes, after he sustained an injury in our under 23’s 2-0 defeat to Brighton last month. When you take into consideration the fact that he is away from his country in a big city like London and plying his trade with one of the biggest teams in Europe, I think that he should be extremely proud of how well he has done for Spurs so far this campaign considering all that he has achieved.
The former Belvedere FC schoolboy has all the attributes he needs to become a top class centre forward in the future. However, he is still very young and I think it’s remarkable how he has stepped up for both our under 19’s and 23’s, and Ireland’s under 19 side so far this season. Parrott is an exceptionally talented player and it is completely justified that he is being labelled as the most exciting young player to come out of Ireland since Robbie Keane. His maturity, footballing intelligence and ability to get himself into good positions to score goals, is of the very highest quality. Fans of both Spurs and Ireland should appreciate just how special a player the first year scholar is. He has been an absolute privilege to watch play this season. I wish Troy a speedy recovery from his injury and I hope to see him back in action in the near future.