Tony Parks reflects on seven years at The FA, as he prepares for his final game before joining Spurs.
England U16 v Scotland U16
Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.40pm, Friday 28 November 2008
Sincil Bank, Lincoln City FC
As Tony Parks prepares for his final game as a National Goalkeeping Coach at The FA, TheFA.com spoke to the man who is now joining Tottenham Hotspur after seven years at Soho Square.
Parks will work with the U16s as they complete their Victory Shield campaign against Scotland on Friday evening, before joining the White Hart Lane club where he enjoyed a number of memorable years as a player.
Parks admits that it is an opportunity he is hugely excited by. "Of all the things that people say - 'Christmas has come early', 'It's like my birthday', 'It's like winning the lottery' - it really does feel like an exciting opportunity for me.
"The big influence in this is Harry Redknapp. It's not every day that someone of his managerial standing calls you up and says that he'd like you to come and work for him.
"I sat down with the Chairman Daniel Levy who really impressed me with where he wants the club to go, and what they feel is right for the club.
"The cherry on top is the fact that it is Tottenham Hotspur, and they are really close to my heart.
"I went there as a 12-year-old kid and came through the ranks. Those days are done as a player, though. I don't want to go back there as a returning former player, I want to go there as the new Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeping coach and make my mark there.
"It's fresh and you only have to look at the results they have picked up since Harry's been at the club. It's amazing and I want to be part of that."
Having worked at The FA for seven years, Parks admits that there are many highlights - but seeing players progress through the ranks remains the most rewarding aspect of his work.
"The highlights for me are looking now at the likes of Joe Hart, Tom Heaton and Scott Carson, who have come through the development ranks and progressed," Parks explains.
"Seeing the players in the system now like Jason Steele at Middlesbrough and Ben Amos at Manchester United, who have had first-team recognition at their clubs.
"I know they're fantastic goalkeepers and I like to think that I've had a hand in their development when they've been with England.
"That's the real highlight. Having an influence on players and the response I've had from them. Because I have worked across all the teams, I have been to eight European Championships, two World Cups.
"I've had an influence on coach education, and I've worked alongside, for me, probably the best goalkeeping coach around in Martin Thomas. He's been a huge influence in my coaching career since I've been at The FA.
"There's loads of positive experiences and it was not a job I could leave lightly. It was just the fact that this kind of opportunity does not come along every day. It was one that was really, really exciting for me to go for."
Parks also made special mention of Heurelho Gomes, a goalkeeper who he feels will prove his great talent here in England as he grows in confidence.
Parks said: "Having seen and worked with Gomes, who is an absolutely fantastic guy and a really talented goalkeeper, he's just having a lapse in his confidence at the moment which is fully understandable.
"For me in the short-term it's up to me to rebuild his confidence and keep him playing well, and getting a clean sheet on Sunday will help that.
"There's some great players and a great staff there and obviously it's a great chance for me to go in and make my mark at senior level."
His one final duty for The FA will be the England U16s match with Scotland on Friday at Lincoln City, the decisive match in the Victory Shield.
"I spoke to Ray and Trevor and they agreed that it's a good opportunity for me and they wouldn't stand in my way," Parks added.
"The one thing I had in my diary was the U16s match with Scotland on Friday, and Trevor and Ray were keen that I do that and rightly so.
"I finish here after Friday's game and then start my first real day at Tottenham on Saturday. Although I was in and around the club at the end of last week, I wasn't able to do the game with them on Sunday.
"I just want to get in there and get cracking straight away. My first game officially as the goalkeeping coach will be Sunday against Everton."