As he helps prepare the young keepers for Friday's game, Tony Parks explains how he became a coach.
UEFA Qualifying Tournament
7.45pm, Friday 12 October 2007
Doncaster Rovers FC, Keepmoat Stadium
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As England U19s prepare for Friday's UEFA Qualifying Tournament opener with Iceland, TheFA.com spoke with Assistant National Goalkeeping Coach Tony Parks, who is currently with the team in Leeds, about his career in football.
After looking at his playing days on Thursday, we now turn our attention to his life as a coach at The FA.
Most footballers face a tricky conundrum at the end of their careers - 'what will I do now?'
Tony Parks found himself in that boat when he finally brought the curtain down on more than two decades as a professional.
A UEFA Cup winner with Tottenham Hotspur, Parks played for 15 different clubs including Brentford and Falkirk although it was during his time at Halifax, his last club, where he began to lay down the foundations for a career in coaching.
"As your career progresses you think about what to do next," said Parks. "I was a player-coach at Halifax for three or four years, almost doing my apprenticeship while I was getting my badges. The advent of goalkeeping coaches became more evident and that seemed a way to go. I took my coaching badges in the hope something would come up."
But the path into coaching was not an easy one and involved a return to the classroom.
"I was never that great at school," said Parks. "I always wanted to be a footballer and put all my eggs into one basket. Luckily it worked out as I didn’t pay much attention to my academic life.
"To gain the goalkeeping qualifications, you have to do the outfield coaching qualifications too. You become really rounded as a coach. Getting my qualifications, for someone who didn’t do that well at school, is quite an achievement. I’m proud of that. I then set about trying to forge a career as a goalkeeping coach."
The term 'goalkeeping coach' is a relatively new one but Parks insists it's a role which has improved standards.
"We didn’t really have goalkeeping coaches when I played," said Parks. "We used to do what most of the lads did – warm-up, shooting practice, 11-a-side, five-a-side. It’s more specific now so you can work on technique.
"Perhaps I would have been a better goalkeeper if that coaching had been available when I was playing."
After doing some part-time work at The FA, Parks joined the organisation in October 2002 as Assistant National Goalkeeping Coach.
Along with Martin Thomas, Parks travels with the England youth teams coaching the cream of the country's goalkeeping talent.
"I love my job," added Parks. "But I am still learning. Working with Martin Hunter, Dick Bate, John Peacock, Martyn Thomas has helped hugely. You pick out who are the best coaches to work with and these people have been a real influence. Every time I watch Peaky coach I pick up something new."
Click here to read about Tony Parks' career as a professional, which including winning the UEFA Cup with Tottenham.