Troy Parrott has not had the plain sailing career so many expected after a Premier League debut for Tottenham Hotspur at age 17. This Tuesday night in March realigns the expectations people have long held for a rare talent.
“I’m still shaking now, it was one of the best moments of my life,” said Parrott of the 97th-minute winner to beat Lithuania. “I had a feeling it was going towards the goal. To see it hit the back of the net was crazy. To score the winner that late in the Aviva, in front of the fans, maybe a mile or so away from me house, it is incredible.”
Now 20 and working his way back into eyes and ears of Spurs manager Antonio Conte, as best as he possibly can, Parrott spoke to the media last week about utterly changing his work rate at training with MK Dons, where he is trying to survive in English football.
“He was disappointed not to start but I spoke to him – I’ve a relationship with Troy now – and he hid his disappointment and channelled the disappointment the way you would want him to,” said Ireland manager Stephen Kenny.
“Having had a shot tipped over before the goal shows two characteristics – a brilliant technique and an ability to do it, not when you are two-nil up but to do it in the 97th minute when we are level.
“He is a terrific person and a good team-mate in the changing room.”
Parrott’s arrival just after the hour mark, alongside James McClean, brings into question Kenny’s initial starting XI where Will Keane struggled in his first start.
“Our front three were not as cohesive as they might have been but they still worked hard and gave everything to the team,” said Kenny. “Will Keane, it was his first start, he will get a lot from that. It is only natural that you are nervous in your first start. But certainly he is a good player.
“To be fair to the players, the ability to get late goals is a very important quality in a team. You cannot underestimate the value of persistence. It speaks to the humility of the group, even though I have never been involved in a game where four goals have been disallowed. You celebrate and then the flag goes up and you can’t believe it. Frustration could get the better of you, but it didn’t.”
“If Chieo Ogbene’s goal goes in early they have to come at you and we can open them up.”