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Dirty Tackle

Paralyzed footballer scouts for Middlesbrough by blinking

Dirty Tackle

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If you need a reminder that no matter what setbacks you experience in life, that with a bit of creativity and perseverance you can still do something you love, this should be it.

Former Middlesbrough defender and Blackpool youth team coach Gary Parkinson, now 43, suffered a stroke in the stem of the brain that left him paralyzed with locked-in syndrome in September of last year. It left him only able to communicate through movement of his eyes. In the time since, Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray has visited his old teammate on numerous occasions and decided to give Parkinson a role with the club that gives him "something to focus on" and utilizes his knowledge of the game and potential transfer targets. So, he made Parkinson a scout.

From The Northern Echo:

If Thornaby-born Parkinson really likes a player, he raises his eyelids to look up when [his wife ] Deborah goes through a scale of one to four with him.

If he looks up when she says "one", he is not impressed and Boro are advised not to push for a deal.

Deborah relays the message back to Mowbray, who uses the information to come to a final decision on players from around the world with the rest of his backroom team.

"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, who still lives in the family home in Bolton.

"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."

While serving in his new position, Parkinson, who won the Lancashire FA Youth Cup as a coach at Blackpool, has made improvements. He's made visits home and he could get his speech back after undergoing a vocal chord operation. But until Gary regains his ability to speak, don't be surprised if a couple of Boro's January signings are made as a result of the blink of an eye.

Photo: Getty

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