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A different Wembley walk for Parker

4 August 2020

Scott Parker is no stranger to leading a team out at Wembley as he recalls the night he captained England against the Netherlands in 2012.

Parker was handed the armband by caretaker Three Lions boss Stuart Pearce, with the midfielder describing it as a ‘special’ night for him. It might not have been a result to remember but it is a day that will live long in the memory for the former England international. 
Now he looks forward to a different stroll onto the Wembley turf, as he leads his Fulham side out in the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final against West London rivals Brentford.
The football shirt and boots have been replaced by a suit and a pair of black shoes, the armband replaced by a tie to fix up his suit, but the pressure remains the same - winning is everything for Scott Parker. 
“I am extremely proud of leading the team out, there are no two ways about that - but I am proud of my team and my staff for everything that we have gone through this season,” said Parker. 
“We have been on a journey and I am proud of every single one of them. I see a real improvement and I see people improving week-in-week-out, we have had to win a lot of football matches to get to where we are now and we have managed to do that. 
“Tuesday will be a proud evening for me and like the game in 2012 - you have got a job to do, that is 90 minutes where you have to perform and that doesn’t change for me now that I am the manager, we have to perform and make sure we get that win on the night.” 
Parker and his side finished level on points with Thomas Frank's Brentford in the final league standings, with the Bees missing the opportunity to clinch automatic promotion on the final day of the season, as relegation-threatened Barnsley took all three points at Griffin Park. 
A result like that might surprise you in other league’s around the world, but not the Championship. The 39 year old spent the final three seasons in his football career in England’s second division and says it is one of the most entertaining league’s in the world. 
“I think it is a fantastic league and the entertainment that you get is up there as one of the best - the Premier League with the quality it brings and the entertainment in there as well, but in terms of the relentlessness, the Championship is huge,” Parker admitted.  
"How the season ended is a perfect example of how great this league is, every team on their day can beat each other and it is entertaining, I think we can all realise that. 
“There are some top, top teams in this division, a lot of established outfits that have played Premier League football for a long time, so it just goes to show how big this competition is.” 
Fulham were victorious the last time they took part in the Championship Play-Off Final, recording a 1-0 win over Aston Villa through a Tom Cairney effort. 
With a large majority of that squad still at Craven Cottage - albeit under a new manager - Parker is confident that their experience is this fixture could give them the edge over Brentford on Tuesday night. 
“The squad here have walked the walk before and I only see that as a positive, at the same time there is going to be more to this game and more to the dynamics of this game that a little bit of experience, but that experience will be helpful,” he added. 
“Experience certainly isn’t going to be a hinderance, getting that knowledge of big games and the magnitude of those games will certainly help because you have been there and done it, smelt it and understood it. 
“We have players in this football club that have done that and I can only see that as something that is going to help us, it could be a part of a big picture for us. But on the other side to that you have to turn up, and I will be making sure my players do that.” 

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