LONDON, England, March 2 – England captain Scott Parker admits he is desperate to lead his country at Euro 2012 after getting a first taste of the job in the 3-2 friendly defeat against the Netherlands at Wembley.
Parker only discovered he would be skipper when caretaker boss Stuart Pearce revealed his decision after a team meeting just hours before kick-off on Wednesday morning.
The Tottenham midfielder was a surprise choice given the presence of Steven Gerrard in the team and he admitted hearing the news was one of the best moments of his life.
Even the disappointment of Arjen Robben’s stoppage time winner for the Dutch couldn’t ruin Parker’s day.
Now his attention will turn to holding onto the armband and, asked if he would like to keep the armband, Parker said: “Of course I would. I would like more really. I am going to keep working hard.
“I also understand there’s many a player – no-one more than Steven Gerrard and a couple of others – who’ve obviously been there before and done it.
“It’s going to be difficult for me but I would obviously relish the chance to lead the country out again and take it into the Euros.
“Whether that’s me or it’s not me, I know I’ll be fully behind whoever it may be, determined to make England succeed.”
Parker revealed Liverpool captain Gerrard was one of the first players to offer his congratulations even though he may have been annoyed at the snub.
“He (Pearce) named his team in a meeting at 10.15 and after the meeting he said I would be captain. That was the first I knew of it,” Parker said.
“All the players said congratulations, but Stevie was one of the first to come up to me and congratulate me.
“He said I deserved it and he would support me. He was really pleased for me.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from Stevie. He is a fantastic player and a fantastic professional.”
Whether Parker will be deemed captaincy material by whoever the Football Association choose to replace Fabio Capello remains to be seen.
It would clearly help his cause if it is his club manager Harry Redknapp — currently the bookmakers’ favourite — but even if Parker doesn’t keep the job, he will forever cherish this moment.
Just 12 months ago, the 31-year-old was very much a fringe player at international level and was fighting a losing battle to keep West Ham in the Premier League.
“I could only dream about being England captain as a boy. To get the nod and lead out my country was great,” Parker said.
“You don’t think about leading the team out until it literally happens and you are standing there. That’s when it hits you exactly what the occasion is and what you are doing.
“It’s definitely up there, not only in my career but obviously in my personal life, probably behind the birth of my kids. My family are very proud.
“A lot has definitely happened for me in a short period with England. It’s all gone very quickly.
“I had a long time to think about things today. Obviously I knew at 10.15. I just turned my phone off and turned the television off and thought about it all. It’s been massive. Long may it continue.”
Although Parker was pleased to see England fight back from 2-0 down, the ruthless Dutch finishing showed him they will need more than just spirit to enjoy a successful Euro 2012 campaign.
“It was a tough game against a very good team. They were World Cup finalists. We knew how good they would be,” he said.
“At 2-0 I thought we could have gone into our shell a little bit. Wembley is difficult at times and at 2-0 it could have been hard.
“So I think we need to take a lot of positives that we got back into the game at 2-2 and obviously we are a little disappointed to have let one in at the end.
“But I think we all realise it is not just courage and commitment that is going to win you tournaments. You have to have a little bit more.
“I like to think over the course of time we can do that. I think this is a good step.”