"I've come across loads of them in my time as a coach" - Brian Kerr's sage advice to Troy Parrott
Troy Parrott knows that, even though he's just 20 years of age, the years won't be long slipping by.
Football is a young man's game and, with time on his side, he knows that now is the time to make shapes. It's a good job he does because, with Ireland in need of a goalscorer, the Dubliner is stepping up and he's doing what we need him to do.
First time around, Tottenham was a mixed bag for the striker. It was a time of great hope, expectation and excitement when, as a 17-year-old, he ripped it up in the UEFA Youth League, on one occasion scoring four goals against Red Star Belgrade. From there, he hit an obvious peak the following year when, after signing a professional contract, he made his Premier League debut against Burnley and, at the end of it, was handed the match ball by Jose Mourinho.
He never kicked on from there with Mourinho losing faith. The Portuguese manager was concerned that Parrott was getting ahead of himself and made the damning verdict that, "Every time he was playing with the kids (23s), he was playing with the mentality of, ‘I shouldn’t be here’ or, ‘I am too good to be here."
So he was shipped off to Milwall on loan but in a whole season, only played 11 games and never scored. Next stop, MK Dons and it's there where Parrott appears to have learned his lesson. He has 34 appearances for the in-form League one club since joining last year, scoring five goals along the way and, in an interview a couple of weeks ago, he made it clear he's making the most of his talent and opportunity now.
"I just realised I couldn’t sit around and let it go by. I needed to make every time I was on the pitch count, and give it 110% every game
"Ultimately, you get one shot at it, and I want to be a footballer. I want to play at a high level, and I realised that I couldn’t just let it go by," he said.
Parrott made the difference for Ireland last night, scoring a brilliant late winner against Lithuania and speaking on Virgin Media, Brian Kerr gave him some sage advide.
"There's lots of young players that it doesn't click with them until it's too late.
"One part of being a great player is having the dedication, commitment and being able to accept discipline of the lifestyle"
Brian Kerr after Troy Parrott's match-winning cameo.#IRLLIT #COYBIG pic.twitter.com/3biSyWe8Jr
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) March 29, 2022
"There's a lot of young players that it doesn't click with them until it's too late and they end up out of football, or out of a good level of football, even though they've all the talent and skill.
"I've come across loads of them in my time as a coach, fellas with loads of ability, but if you haven't the right attitude, that's part of being a great player. You often here people say 'aw your man's a great player,' and I'll say 'one part of being a great player is having the dedication, the commitment and the ability to accept discipline of lifestyle that coaches want from you.
"He had a spell at Spurs where people felt he should have been getting a chance with him. Mourinho wasn't happy with something about him, they loaned him out to Milwall, didn't go well there but now he seems to be playing regularly at MK Dons and he's scoring some goals.
"Now, continue on from that, do your stuff, keep your head on the game and improve and keep working at your game to improve."
Parrott certainly seems to be doing that, and the signs for the future are exciting.