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Parker: No concerns over Balotelli

23 Jun 2012 08:17:36

Parker: No concerns over Balotelli

Scott Parker is determined not to let the spectre of Mario Balotelli spoil what he feels is likely to be his only shot a major prize with England.

Parker reasons that as he will be 33 when the World Cup is held in Brazil, he might have been shunted into the international sidings. It is not something the combative Tottenham midfielder is simply prepared to accept, merely the reality as Parker sees it. However, a shadow hangs over Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final with Italy.

It is the reminder of Balotelli's outrageous stamp on Parker at the Etihad Stadium in January, not spotted by referee Howard Webb at the time, but ultimately deemed worthy of a four-match ban. The pair meet again in Kiev, but Parker is focused solely on the task at hand. He said: "The Balotelli incident is long gone."

He continued: "He got punished. Whether it was meant or not, whatever happened has happened and that is it."

The response is perhaps predictable for someone who shuns the limelight.

Perhaps less so is that observation about an international career that has only taken off since the shambles of South Africa, after which Fabio Capello realised it was not wise to keep ignoring someone whose contribution to a relegation season at West Ham was such he landed the prestigious FWA player-of-the-year prize as consolation.

"Playing for England is a massive honour for me," he said. "It's something I dreamed of as a boy. I have to pinch myself to feel I have a quarter-final coming up on Sunday. Long may I stay in the competition.

"I'm not getting younger so this may be my one time in the tournament. Realistically, I'll be 33 at the World Cup. I'll try my hardest to get there, but realistically, this is really it."

Parker may be underestimating his importance to England's cause. In this celebrity-driven era, it is rare for someone who showed enough talent as a youth team player to represent his country at every level from under-15s upwards to be willing to sacrifice himself for the common good.

Yet Parker declares himself happy to do the dirty scuffling work, breaking down opposition attacks and funnelling the ball onto more high-profile team-mates. He said: "I understand my role and responsibilities. It's not the most flattering role, but it's the one I have to play."


PA

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