History: Arsenal’s ever loyal midfielder dynamo Ray Parlour

Ray Parlour-midfield dynamo

In 1973 one of Arsenal’s finest Invincibles was born, the legend that is Ray Parlour.

The midfielder became a trainee at Arsenal in 1989 where he famously spent 15 years at. He would have to wait three years before making his debut in January 1992 in a 2-0 beating by Liverpool.

By 1994/95 Parlour cemented his position in the side which reached the 1994/95 Cup Winners Cup final versus Real Zaragoza which Arsenal lost 2-1 despite pulling a goal back to make things even.  The previous season he missed out on The Gunners 1993/94 Cup Winners Cup victory over Parma.

When Arsene Wenger walked through the mighty doors of Highbury in 1996 Parlour retained his position in the side at right-wing or in central midfield.  Parlour played a paramount role in the 1997/98 double winning season which saw Arsenal lift the Premier League and FA Cup against Newcastle United in the final in which Parlour achieved Man of the Match and assisted Nicolas Anelka’s goal in the game which saw Arsenal run away 2-0 victors.

Despite being a strong arrow in Arsenal’s attacking line-up Parlour wasn’t wanted for England in the 1998 World Cup in France.

In March 2000 the winger scored a hat-trick away at Werder Bremen in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup which Arsenal won on aggregate 6-2. On top of that he was the only player to find the back of the net in the big final against Galatasaray in the penalty shootout which Arsenal lost. Just over half a year later Parlour embraced another hat-trick against Newcastle United in a 5-0 home obliteration.

In April 2001 he grabbed a 30-yard cracker which proved to be the winner for The Gunners who beat Valencia 2-1 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarter finals. The next season he won his second double in 2002 after The Gunners clinched the Premier League and FA cup yet again in which he netted the opener in the 2-0 win over Chelsea. In November 2003 he was the skipper of the Arsenal team who thrashed Inter Milan 5-1 at the San Siro. By the end of the season Parlour and The Gunners had gone the season undefeated being the only team to win a Golden Premier League trophy in 2003/04.

All in all Parlour collected 466 appearances for Arsenal, striking on 32 occasions in all tournaments.  Whilst at the North Londoners he picked up four FA Cups, three Premier League titles, one League Cup and one Cup Winners Cup. Currently his tally of 333 Premiership matches has not been overtaken by any other footballer in Arsenal folklore.

In the summer of 2004, Parlour left Arsenal for Middlesbrough who he would play 60 matches for over two and a half years, in January 2007 he returned to Arsenal.

At the start of February 2007 he went to Hull City until the finish line of the 2006/07 campaign.

In June 2012 Parlour was one of a number of retired footballers including once teammate David Seamen who played for semi-pro side Wembley helping them in that seasons FA Cup run. Unfortunately the side failed to get past the second match of their FA Cup campaign after losing to Uxbridge in a replay.

Earlier on in his career he was called up for England, originally in the U-21 side in May 1992 where he played the full 90 minutes versus Hungary in a 2-2 draw. He was included in the team that played in the Toulon Tournament in 1992 and 1994; The Three Lions would eventually triumph in the latter. Parlour secured the Prix Special award for his fine displays of the competition. Altogether he made 12 games for the U21s without finding the back of the net. In February 1988 he featured for the B-team in a 1-0 defeat to Chile at The Hawthorns home of West Brom.

He later made his first team debut coming off the bench in a UEFA Euro 2000 qualifier versus Poland in late March 1999, he picked up ten caps for England overall without grabbing any goals again. Unfortunately he didn’t appear in any major tournaments for his Nation.

At the age of 50 Parlour expresses his opinions on BBC Radio 5 Live and Talksport regularly.

At Arsenal he remains beloved for his natural attacking flare and constantly joyous personality which contributed to the clubs ultimate success in the early 2000s in the Premier League and FA Cup.

Liam Harding


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  1. RAY PARLOUR! Infectious personality, loyal team man massively committed when playing, likeable, not esp gifted in IQ however, and almost everyones friend, both on TALKSPORT, where he is a regular and on his speaking tours a year or two ago.

    I adore his total self honesty and consider him a rare and special human being.

    For me, he is PRECISELY the sort of TRUE ARSENAL LEGEND that I only wish we still had IN OUR TEAM, THOUGH OF COURSE WAY BACK WHEN IN HIS PRIME.

    1. @jon Fox….Couldn’t have put it better myself, loved him then, love him now. His book, The Romford Pelé is a must read.

  2. I remember his goal in the FA cup final along with Freddie Ljunberg’s goal. Great team player.

  3. Ray Parlour epitomises just why i support Arsenal.Great to have in the changing room wholehearted player loved him

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