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Last-minute call pays off

22 March 2017

Interview with Dean Parrett

During a recent programme article, Dean Parrett revealed that he turned down interest from elsewhere to join AFC Wimbledon and he talked extensively about his time here so far.

For those who may have missed it, this article is reproduced in full below:

Dean Parrett says he’s certainly not regretting his last-minute decision to join AFC Wimbledon after coming so close to joining another club. A League Two club even had a shirt number ready for him ahead of his potential signing last summer, before Neal Ardley came calling to bring him to Wimbledon.

“I’d been talking to a couple of other clubs and was actually finalising details with one of them,” said Dean. “I had to turn down someone I know quite well, and we had a bit of a discussion about it afterwards. I felt quite bad about it. I said, ‘Listen, I want to play in the league above, against better players in better stadiums.’ I told him I wanted to try and work my way up the leagues if I could, and he understood in the end. It was really close because they a number ready for my shirt.

“I had a great chat with the manager here, and I also knew a few of the boys here from my days at Stevenage, including Darius. They spoke highly about playing here, and I also did a bit of research about the club. One of my close pals, Ronnie Henry, is a mate of Bazyo’s, and everything about coming here was really positive. I love people like Bazyo – I’m a bit like that myself!

“It seems like a normal club – it doesn’t seem like a fans’ club because it’s well run. The only difference is that you can feel it’s a family club. It’s nice that everyone appears to know each other, something you perhaps don’t get at bigger clubs. I’ve really enjoyed it here so far – everyone seems to have taken to me, and that helps.”

Dean showed lots of potential during his teenage years. Tottenham Hotspur spotted him playing for the England U14s in the Victory Shield, alongside the likes of Jack Wilshere and Jack Rodwell. Making the switch to Tottenham from QPR paved the way for more England youth appearances, and playing for Spurs in Europe at Shakhtar Donetsk. After a taste of top-level football with Spurs, Dean resurrected his career at Stevenage, and he hopes that his best years as a midfielder are still to come.

“After the first two games in the Victory Shield I got signed by Spurs. At Spurs there were four or five lads I used to go away with on England duty. That was a good little group we had there, and it went on from the U16s until I played in the U20 World Cup in Colombia. A few of those carried on into the U21s and played in the Premier League.

“I went in a different direction, but I still keep in touch with quite a few of the lads. I’d say I was a bit unlucky at Spurs. Every time I got into the first-team squad, the manager got the sack! I played a game for Harry Redknapp, and he got sacked. Then I was training with the first-team squad every day and thinking I may get an opportunity, but then Juande Ramos left. I had to start again, and it didn’t quite work out. But I don’t regret anything I’ve done, because all the experiences have made me a stronger person.

“No one can tell you what the next couple of years are going to bring. Usually as a footballer you just concentrate on the next game. As long as I keep learning and trying my best in training every day, hopefully the peak years in my career will come.”

Dean believes he is in the right place to achieve that, with manager Neal Ardley and his coaching staff offering a different kind of approach to what he had become accustomed to.

“My first couple of years at Stevenage were under Graham Westley, and his philosophies are a lot different to other people’s. You had to really get your head down and grind it out, whereas the manager here is massive on recovery. He’s big on making sure that when you’re training, it’s done to full intensity. We’re told to put the effort in, and then we’ll get the time to rest. That’s the difference here – at other places it was just a grind. You were just trying to recover on your own, but this club looks after you to try and keep you fresh for games.

“I’ve just been trying to adapt to what the manager wants from me on the pitch. He wants me to work off second balls and throw-ins, but also to be demanding of people around me. At other clubs I’ve mainly had a more defensive-minded midfield player who sits in behind and lets me play with freedom. I feel I’ve a lot more responsibility here for the defensive side of the game and the people around me.

“I’ve quite enjoyed the pressure of trying to be a bit more demanding of other players. It makes you grow up a bit as well. That comes if you’re helping other people around you. I was always of the mentality that I just had to get my own game right, as that’s the way I was brought up to play. Here, the other players they are always talking on the pitch and getting on your case, no matter how well they are playing. They talk you through it, and maybe I need to add that to my game too.”

Dean’s big break came after a successful trial at QPR, which he still remembers vividly. “I had a one-day trial there, and I can recall getting kicked in the head, but then scoring two ‘worldies’. I was just a shy little eight-year-old until then. But I saw red and ended up getting signed! My parents and my brother have always been there for me. They go to all my games, wherever the team are playing. They’re football through and through and they’ve been with me all the way, driving me all around the country. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve become a professional footballer.”

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