Parlour pictured in December 2006
|Full name||Raymond Parlour|
|Date of birth||7 March 1973|
|Place of birth||Romford, England|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
He spent his career playing for Arsenal, Middlesbrough, Hull City. During his Arsenal career he was nicknamed "The Romford Pelé"; although the nickname was given with an ironic sense of humour, on account of his solid performance but unglamorous image. He has been described as an "unsung hero" and praised as a "fans' favourite" for his high-energy performances. He is now a pundit on television, as well as on radio stations BBC Radio 5 Live and Talksport. In 2012 Parlour briefly came out of retirement to play for Wembley in the club's FA Cup fixtures.
Parlour is most famous for his time at Arsenal, where he played for 14 years. He joined Arsenal as a trainee in 1989 and made his debut for the Gunners against Liverpool on 29 January 1992, where he conceded a penalty in a 2–0 defeat. Parlour continued to be a bit-part player for the next few years, and was more noted for several disciplinary problems (such as a run-in with a Hong Kong taxi driver while on tour).
He properly broke through in 1994–95, and played in Arsenal's European UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final loss to Real Zaragoza that season (having been an unused sub in the Gunners' 1–0 triumph over Parma the previous season). However, Parlour only fully developed as a player after the arrival of Arsène Wenger as manager in 1996; he became a regular fixture playing on the right-wing or in central midfield for Arsenal; in 1997–98 Arsenal won the Double and Parlour proved instrumental. He was man-of-the-match in the Gunners' FA Cup Final win over Newcastle United that season; he set up Nicolas Anelka for Arsenal's second goal in a 2–0 win. However, he missed out on the 1998 World Cup that summer (England coach Glenn Hoddle preferring Spurs' Darren Anderton instead).
Parlour continued to enjoy success with Arsenal for another four years (winning another Double in 2002), but generally received little acclaim in the media compared with many of his more illustrious Arsenal teammates, especially as he was almost constantly living in the shadow of Patrick Vieira for much of his time at the club. He finally claimed his place in the spotlight with a 30-yard strike to open the scoring in the 2002 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, which was famously pre-empted by Soccer AM's Tim Lovejoy with "Oh, it's all right, it's only Ray Parlour"; Arsenal won 2–0, with the second goal from Fredrik Ljungberg. In total, with Arsenal, Parlour won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup and one European Cup Winners' Cup having played 464 games and scoring 32 goals in all competitions.
In March 2000, he hit a hat-trick in a 4–2 away win at Werder Bremen in a UEFA Cup quarter final tie. Arsenal went on to reach the final of the competition that year. Parlour was the only Arsenal player successful from the spot in their shoot-out defeat to Galatasaray. Seven months later, he followed it up with another hat-trick in a 5–0 demolition of Newcastle United at Highbury. In April 2001, he struck a spectacular 30-yard winner as Arsenal beat Valencia 2–1 in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final 1st leg tie at Highbury. Another one of Parlour's finest moments in Arsenal colours came in November 2003, when as stand-in captain, he led Arsenal to a famous 5–1 win against Internazionale at San Siro. These performances over the years have led many Arsenal fans to believe that he is one of the most under-rated players of his generation. As of May 2016, he holds Arsenal's all-time Premier League appearances record of 333.
In July 2004, Parlour signed for Premier League club Middlesbrough on a free transfer. He signed a three-year contract at The Riverside. He played 60 games for Boro in two and a half years, and was an unused substitute in Middlesbrough's appearance in the 2006 UEFA Cup Final against Sevilla, which they lost 4–0. Parlour was released from his contract on 25 January 2007 and for a brief period trained with old club Arsenal to regain fitness with a view to finding a new club.
On 9 February 2007, he signed for Hull City until the end of the 2006–07 season. After helping City avoid relegation, it was confirmed on 1 June that Parlour was not offered a new contract and this meant he was released.
In June 2012, he was one of several former professional footballers who agreed to join Wembley to play in their FA Cup campaign for the new season. Parlour and fellow former internationals Graeme Le Saux, Martin Keown, Claudio Caniggia, and Brian McBride, plus David Seaman (goalkeeping coach) and former England manager Terry Venables (technical advisor), came out of retirement to play for Wembley who were featured in a television documentary as they endeavoured to help the club play at Wembley Stadium. Wembley were knocked out in a replay by Uxbridge after initially setting up the tie by knocking Langford out in the previous round.
Parlour made 12 appearances for the England under-21 team. He made his England debut as a substitute in a UEFA Euro 2000 qualifier against Poland on 27 March 1999. He won ten caps for his country but did not score any goals; the closest he came was in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Finland on 11 October 2000. Parlour 'scored' with a 30-yard strike which hit the crossbar and was incorrectly designated by the linesman not to have gone over the goal-line; the match finished 0–0. Parlour did not feature in any tournament finals; a knee injury forced him to withdraw from England's squad for Euro 2000. His final cap came in a friendly against Italy on 15 November 2000; Parlour was called up into the squad several times by new coach Sven-Göran Eriksson, but he never made it onto the pitch under the Swede.
Parlour married his wife Karen in 1998; the couple had three children before separating in 2001. In July 2004, they agreed a divorce settlement which awarded Karen Parlour two houses and a £250,000 lump sum but the issue of maintenance was not agreed. Ray Parlour offered Karen £120,000 p.a. on the basis that this would meet all of her and their children's needs, but she wanted more. Initially the court awarded her £212,500 a year, but both parties were unsatisfied with this and appealed.
The Court of Appeal increased Karen's award to £440,000 p.a. However, this would only be paid for five years to enable her to put aside £250,000 each year to build up her own capital resources. The case brought with it media speculation that future divorce cases would bring people a more equal share in their former partner's future earnings, and a possible increased usage of prenuptial agreements. Parlour has been in a relationship with his current partner, Joanne Jones, since 2001 and they have two children together.
|Club||Season||Division||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Wembley||2012–13||Combined Counties League||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|England national team|
- Premier League: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04
- FA Cup: 1993, 1998, 2002, 2003
- Football League Cup: 1993
- FA Community Shield: 1998, 1999, 2002
- UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1994
- Toulon Tournament: 1994
- Parlour, Ray; Lawrence, Amy (2016), The Romford Pelé, Century, ISBN 9781780895048
- Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2003). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2003/2004. Queen Anne Press. p. 330. ISBN 1-85291-651-6.
- "Ray Parlour profile". BBC Sport. 7 July 2004. Retrieved 17 February 2007.
- Parlour & Lawrence 2005, p. 281
- "Middlesbrough sign Parlour". BBC Sport. British Broadcast Corporation. 23 July 2004. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "Tigers add Parlour's experience". BBC Football. 9 February 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- "Parlour not offered Hull contract". BBC Football. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- "Keegan names Euro 2000 squad". BBC Sport. 1 June 2000. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- Silverman, Jon (7 July 2004). "Q&A: Karen Parlour divorce case". BBC News. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- "Ray Parlour: If camera phones were around in my day, Arsenal would've sacked me". The Sun. 24 April 2016.
- Ray Parlour profile at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
- Ray Parlour at Soccerbase
- "Ray Parlour". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
- "Ray Parlour: Overview". Premier League. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- Parlour & Lawrence 2005, p. 279
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