When Blackpool Head of Youth Gary Parkinson suffered a severe stroke in September 2010 that left suffering from locked-in syndrome, it appeared his involvement in football was over.
But current Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray has found a way of tapping in his knowledge. Parkinson, who has been receiving specialist care at a rehabilitation unit in Bury since September last year, has been rating potential transfer targets for the Championship club manager.
Parkinson watches DVDs of potential signings for Mowbray and subsequently communicates by blinking to his wide Deborah. He has devised a ratings system that enables him to give a verdict on individual players.
“Tony and his coaching staff, like Mark Proctor and Stephen Pears, have been fantastic for Gary,” Deborah told the Northern Echo.
“When Tony first came to see Gary, he could see Gary was still aware of everything that was going on around him. So he asked Gary if he wanted to do some scouting for him.”
“A DVD comes down to us, with a sheet of paper. There is a description of the player, his name, his age, his position and the clubs he has played for,” said Deborah.
Mowbray, speaking in Middlesbrough’s match-day programme on Saturday, said:
“We were determined to give Gary a role, where he could feel involved. Not only that, I genuinely value his opinions about the game.”
As a player, Parkinson made more than 450 league appearances, the bulk of which came were made in the colours of Middlesbrough, Burnley and Preston North End.
Deborah added: “Gary still loves his football, knows all about youth football from his time as the youth team coach at Blackpool, and you can see he picks up when he is doing it. I have done it with him and so has my son, Luke.”