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Name Ray Parlour
Spelling The Romford Pele
Gender Male
Ethnic English
Job English Footballer
Desc Ray Parlour, affectionately known as ‘The Romford Pele’, embodied the transformation Arsenal underwent under Arsene Wenger. Parlour had been expected to be one of the first names out the door under the Frenchman but instead stayed on to vastly improve as a player


Org xxxx National Team
Club as Player Arsenal FC

2015 08 20 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour on Thierry Henry] Character-wise, Thierry Henry was a winner, you could tell that straight away. But he had everything on the ball as well, he had skill, trickery, he could go past a player, and he had an eye for goal

2015 08 21 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour on Thierry Henry] He always had so much talent but he improved so much. He was an athlete as well – 6’1”, 6’2” but he could run once he got into his stride. He was an absolutely fantastic player. But his finishing – that was his main strength

2016 02 14 Retrieve

[On Gianfranco Zola] Little Franco was [….] a brilliant No.10 who would open teams up with a simple but deadly pass

2016 02 18 Retrieve

[Quotes on Paul Gascoigne] We all loved Gazza and there haven’t been many finer English players in my lifetime. No one dropped their shoulder like Gazza

2020 02 18 Retrieve

[Parlour says Arsenal have to get Saka tied to new contract but feel-good factor is back] He [Nketiah] struggled a bit first half – holding the ball up, and that’s what Lacazette does so well. He holds the ball up and brings other players into play, while Eddie was a little bit of a struggle first half. Second half, he did much better, he had a couple of opportunities. That is where managers have to make big decisions. At least he is showing that he will give the youngsters a go.

Saka was excellent again on the left-hand side, he had another really good game. I think he has to get tied down now on a new contract. I think they are trying to organise it at the moment. At the moment Arsenal are 10th in the table, which isn’t good enough, but Lacazette’s goal and how the players celebrated, they knew he needed that. There are a lot of changes that need to be made at Arsenal but there is a feel-good factor again. I think the supporters are getting behind the team and suddenly they are thinking: next season, could we really have a go? I think fifth place is still wide open for quite a few clubs, so big game Sunday against Everton.

2020 02 21 Retrieve

[Former Gunners winger Ray Parlour is eager to see an extension put in place] I think Bukayo Saka has to get tied down now on a new contract. I think they are trying to organise it at the moment

2020 03 27 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour on how Dennis Bergkamp winding up Martin Keown led to Arsenal signing flop Igors Stepanovs] Arsene was so clever at identifying great players to come in, but there were one or two gambles that didn’t quite come off.

In the summer of 2000 a player turned up on trial at our pre-season tour. He was a tall centre-half. Now, Martin Keown was always worried about people coming in to steal his position. If we had a centre-half on trial, Martin would say he was useless. This big guy from Latvia, Igors Stepanovs, turned up. He was a unit, but seriously, he was not up to standard.

[He actually had one of the Premier League’s best-ever win ratios. Anyway, on with the story!] A few of us were on the bench watching as he played in this trial game. Stepanovs is out there and every single pass he made, the boys started applauding, just because we knew Martin would be getting a bit steamed up by it. Dennis Bergkamp was sitting behind Arsene and kept doling out these compliments about this defender – ‘Great header! Unbelievable tackle!’. “Igors kicked this one ball 20 yards away from where it was meant to go but it still went to one of our players so we all stood up clapping.

Martin’s muttering: ‘He’s not that good.’ He started to point out where he missed a tackle or a header.

That night we went for dinner and laughed about it as we were only trying to wind Martin up. We all knew Igors was nowhere near the standards set by Tony Adams, Martin and Bouldy.

But Martin is such an easy target because he bites. Once someone bites it’s too tempting. Dennis seldom missed a trick because Martin would kick him every day in training. He always came out with a blinder to explain it to Dennis: ‘I’m just getting you ready for what you are going to face in the match.’

Martin was a great player, a great character, a great winner. I think we all cared so deeply. When we got back to the training ground at London Colney a week later we had a surprise though. Igors was sitting there.

I said: ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘They signed me,’ he said. ‘Four-year contract.’

Arsene didn’t know we were just trying to tease Martin. He just kept listening to us heaping praise on this player. And if Dennis Bergkamp stands up and says: ‘What a player’, Arsene would be entitled to take a bit of notice. I suppose it looked like a bargain at around £1m.

No disrespect to anyone from the lower leagues but Igors was a yard behind us on the pitch, it was like taking my brother to training.

The next thing we know we’ve got the biggest injury crisis we’ve ever had at centre-half. And the only fit centre-half we’ve got is Igors and who are we playing at the weekend? Man United at Old Trafford.

Going into the game our back four looked a bit dicey really. Oleg Luzhny, Gilles Grimandi, Igors and Ashley Cole, who had to go off at half-time.

Dwight Yorke ran us ragged. Seriously, it was humiliating. They scored the first goal and we managed to equalise. We thought: ‘OK, we’ll take that’. And then all of a sudden the goals started pouring in and we were 5-1 down by half-time

There is a massive walk to the tunnel at Old Trafford and you could see Arsene was fuming. He hardly every swore or shouted but he did that day. I remember doing the long walk to the tunnel alongside Dwight Yorke and he asked: ‘Where the hell did you get that centre-half from?’ ‘Look,’ I said. ‘It’s a long story … ‘” “We sat down in the dressing room and it could’ve been 9-1 as David Seaman actually had a blinder in goal.

Arsene started letting off and he’s not a swearer, it just doesn’t suit him, and I’m really desperate to laugh. I’m making no eye contact and I could see Pat Rice in my peripheral vision sending me a look that said: ‘Don’t laugh. Whatever you do. Do. Not. Laugh

Arsene was going mad. And that was the only time, in the eight years I played under him, he went crazy at half-time. He was always focused on being calm, recovering and keeping concentrated on what we needed to do. We lost 6-1 and poor Igors barely played again