Parker thankful to return to England fold
Parker has recovered from an Achilles injury to be named in Roy Hodgson's 23-man EURO squad and the Tottenham Hotspur star is widely expected to feature alongside Steven Gerrard in England's midfield in their opening group match against France on 11 June.
It is a remarkable renaissance for Parker, who just two years ago feared his England career was over when he took a call from then coach Fabio Capello to inform him he would not be going to the FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.
Parker had been named in Capello's preliminary squad but did not play a minute of two pre-tournament friendlies against Mexico and Japan and was axed by Capello when he trimmed his group for the tournament. At that point, Parker felt he may never play for England again but injuries gave him one last chance and he seized it in a friendly against Denmark in Copenhagen in February 2011.
"I had reached a point where I had nothing to lose," Parker said of the Denmark match. "I could either not play well and it would be a massive struggle to get back in or I could go out with no fear and do the best I could. If that was good enough, brilliant. Thankfully it has worked out quite well."
Now Parker is well established in the international set-up and fulfilled a childhood ambtion when he captained England for their friendly defeat against the Netherlands at Wembley earlier this season. He admits it would have been easy to sulk and blame Capello for his spell on the sidelines but that is not his style.
Instead, Parker just redoubled his efforts at club level and then made the most of the opportunity when Capello came calling. "The most important thing was to concentrate on my own game," he said yesterday. "I realised if I was playing well I could get in the squad.
"In terms of the public support, that obviously helped. You would much prefer to see nice things being written about you, rather than the negative things.
"After 2010 I knew it was going to be quite difficult for me to get back in. But I don't kid myself. I realise whether I am doing enough or not and I had to push myself. I supposed it was a bit unexpected that things did turn around. I should have realised things can change very quickly in football."