Jon Parkin: The Beast On His Love Of Greggs, Lobbing Casillas And The Attitudes Of Young Footballers
He’d be the very person to admit that he doesn’t live life like most modern day footballers, but for York City striker Jon Parkin, he’s built his reputation on scoring goals and not being hampered by the stresses of the game.
Speaking exclusively to TheSportsman.com’s Perfect 10 Podcast, Parkin showed why he’s one of English football’s most honest characters and why he’s received a cult-figure status at many of the 14 clubs he’s played for across his 20-year career.
After making his professional debut for his boyhood club Barnsley as a centre-half in 1998 at the age of 17, Parkin has gone on to play for the likes of Stoke, Cardiff, Preston and Hull City to name a few.
Throughout his career he’s become renowned for his large frame, his relaxed approach to dieting demands and of course his impressive goalscoring record in England’s lower leagues.
Claiming that getting his hands on a Gregg’s pepperoni pizza slice at 4 o’clock in the morning is like “winning the lottery”, was just the first hint we had during our interview that Parkin is not like any other footballer.
Despite his relaxed approach to his daily routine, in the early stages of his career, Parkin told the podcast that his main objective was “to not f**k up”, even claiming that he had tears rolling down his face and considered twisting his ankle on purpose to get out of a game against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane as an 18-year-old.
Eighteen years on and it’s impossible to ever envision a time when ‘The Beast’ suffered from pre-game jitters, considering that he admittedly sees football as just a job.
Now in the twilight of his career, Parkin has already made steps towards securing his future after football, starting his own podcast with former Blackburn forward Chris Brown, as well as fellow podcaster...Chris Brown.
Parkin’s autobiography ‘Feed the Beast’, which was released in September of this year, is full of some of the funniest anecdotes that football has to offer, and he was kind enough to share a select few of them on our podcast.
One of the most amazing stories the striker shared, was the time his Stoke City side faced Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly in Austria.
He was inches away from a moment that some footballers can only dream of, beating former Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas with an audacious attempt.
“I chipped Casillas from 40 yards and it hit the top netting,” Parkin explained.
Despite the opportunity missed, Parkin was able to provide World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro with ‘one of the proudest moments of his career’ by swapping shirts in the warm down after the game.
“After the game, we’re having the warm down and I ask for his shirt. I’ve got the shirt, I’ve shook his hand and I’ve turned away,” the striker then detailed how the Italian looked puzzled at Parkin neglecting to exchange his own shirt in response.
“I thought, 'is this player for real?' I didn’t like getting my body out at the best of times, especially in pre-season. So yeah, I gave him my shirt.”
Parkin then went on to explain how he almost missed the game against the Madridistas, after an incident involving a golf buggy that could have left himself and goalkeeper Steve Simonsen seriously injured.
“I’ve never really grown up, so I just thought I’d see how fast this can go down this hill,” Parkin said before pausing and showing us how the buggy span out of control by using his sandwich packet as a prop.
The incident left Simonsen dazed, but Parkin was able to roll to safety and make himself available for the Madrid friendly.
Despite his notion that he’ll never really grow up, Parkin did voice his annoyance at youngsters within the game.
“It’s the attitudes of kids today that boil me,” bemoaned ‘The Beast’.
“I was playing for Forest Green away at Braintree. The ball’s going out for a throwing, and one of our young lads has fouled him in the corner.”
After Parkin voiced his annoyance at the stupidity of the foul, the youngster's response of ‘wind your neck in’ left him irate.
“I didn’t concentrate on the ball for ten minutes, the ref had to pull it and stop the game.” The backchat from the youngster led to a physical altercation between the pair as well as a tongue lashing from the forward.
Parkin, however, admitted to not having shown the perfect application himself throughout his career.
"Alan Irvine was a right stickler for being late,” claimed Parkin, before detailing his most astonishing tale during the podcast.
“My timekeeping isn’t the best, and I used to travel from Barnsley to Preston. I’ve set off towards the M62 and it’s gridded, it’s carnage. I get to 9 o’clock and I know there’s no way I’ll be in time for training. I wasn’t going to get in until 12 so I thought 'f**k it, I’ll just tell them I’ve been in a car crash.'”
The forward was handed a £250 fine from the club, who questioned his fib, but after a detailed account of the ‘crash’ from Parkin and a defence from his pal Sean St Ledger, the striker escaped a hefty fine and was able to keep the secret under wraps until his time at Deepdale had come to an end.
In one of our most hilarious podcasts to date, check out our entire encounter with ‘The Beast’ below and hear more from one of the most relatable footballers in the country: