Freshly-minted 2011 Footballer of the Year Scott Parker talks to FourFourTwo
Congratulations on being named the Football Writers' Footballer of the Year. How does it feel to be recognised for individual performances?
I feel proud because it’s a huge honour. I didn't realise how special it was until the ceremony. There were so many special people in the room and when you see pictures of past winners on the wall it brought it all home. It was very humbling.
You're the first West Ham player to win it since Bobby Moore...
We all know how great he was, so that feels special. I've been playing well, ?but I'm always shocked when I win something, whether it's voted for by fellow professionals or the press. That's just the way I am. I thought Charlie Adam played exceptionally well this season, along with Nemanja Vidic, Gareth Bale… so many different players could have won it.
Does it seem greater winning it with a team that was fighting relegation rather than chasing honours?
I suppose so. It's strange winning a personal award when the team was struggling, but I couldn't have won it without my West Ham team-mates.
Were your family proud?
My son was very impressed! Normally it's Wayne Rooney this and Steven Gerrard that, but I think I went up in his estimation when he found out I'd won!
What was your favourite moment of the season?
Scoring against Liverpool was good and I was proud to play for the team just ?after my dad died.
What kind of impact did your father have on your career?
He was a huge influence. The only way I could handle [his death] was to play and the Spurs game, which came just after it happened, proved a good distraction and allowed me to think about something else. It's difficult knowing he's not there to talk to, but life throws things at you. I've tried to deal with it as best I can and football has been a huge release.
West Ham's relegation battle seemed to galvanise you personally this season...
Things have gone against the team and that helped develop a siege mentality. I just kept my head down, dug in and tried to play football.
Is it difficult relaxing away from the game when you're at the bottom?
It can be stressful. Even when we won there were occasions when we got back ?on the coach and found out other results had gone against us.
Carlton Cole spoke of your inspirational half-time speech against West Brom [West Ham came from 3-0 down to draw 3-3]. What did you say in the dressing room that was so rousing?
I got caught in the moment. I can't remember the words, but I was really angry. That’s not like me and I suppose it was that, rather than what I said, that shocked everyone! As a senior player you have a role. You have to help the manager and endorse his messages.
You're 30 now, but you still seem to have the energy of a 20-year-old. Is there a secret to staying in shape?
I’ve always been naturally fit, but we have excellent fitness and sports science staff these days who find different ways to train us. If you give 100 percent, hopefully their methods will help you improve. I do gym work, general maintenance and I train hard every day. Plus you have a game each week, which keeps you ticking over. Football has got a lot quicker and demands more from your body, but this is probably the best I've felt in my career. I’m sure there'll be a day when I’m a bit older and things don’t work as well as they used to and I’ll need to adapt my game, but I'd like to think that’s a while off!
The fans have always spoken highly of you at every club you've played for. Why do you think this is?
The way I play helps. The English mentality is to work hard and try your best. I'd like to think there's more to my game than that, but the fans get everything from me and I think they appreciate that.
Were you motivated by missing out on England’s World Cup squad last year?
I don't think I had anything to prove, put it that way. Maybe it did serve as a motivation, but the manager made his decision and I can see why he made it.
What was it like watching the tournament, when England looked like they could use a bit of bite in midfield?
I didn’t think 'what if?'. When I knew I wasn't involved I switched off and took some down-time. I supported the boys, ?but I put it behind me. I've worked hard to get back into the squad and getting that chance against Wales was massive.
After that performance in Cardiff, do you feel the position is yours for the foreseeable future?
I thought I did OK. It was a good team performance in a tough game. To go to Wales and play like that was great, but we have so many world-class midfield players and I know how quickly things can change.
Do you feel you're making up for lost time on the international stage?
I just feel I've been given a chance and it's up to me to take it. Every time I'm involved I'm going to try and impress and give the manager every reason to include me. I hope I've made a good impression.
Interview: Nick Judd. From the July 2011 issue of FourFourTwo.