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Dubliner Troy Parrott says playing in lower leagues was a 'shock to the system'

“A shock to the system” is how Parrott describes a first real taste of disappointment.

Troy Parrott at a Republic of Ireland training session preparing for his side's upcoming matches against Belgium and Lithuania. Photo: Sportsfile

Troy Parrott during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Troy Parrott during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Daniel McDonnell

Considering his teenage years only ended last month, Troy Parrott is far too young to be looking backwards rather than forwards.

Yet the hope for anyone invested in the progress of the Dubliner is that the lessons of the past 18 months will ensure that a player who has only known hype will go on to deliver on expectations.

When Parrott made his Spurs first team debut at the age of 17, there was giddiness that this star would continue to rise. Mauricio Pochettino left in the aftermath to be replaced by Jose Mourinho who appeared to be perplexed by repeated questions about the rookie.

It was more than just a green-tinted thing. Parrott’s loan move to Millwall at the beginning of last season was given the full social media treatment by the Championship club, a reflection of the belief a future star was going to dip into their world and set it alight.

Several goalless months later, they were sending Parrott back to Spurs and he bounced down a division to Ipswich where it didn’t go much better. “A shock to the system” is how Parrott describes a first real taste of disappointment. He doesn’t say it directly, but he admits that he underestimated the lower league challenge.

This year’s relocation to MK Dons has gone better, with a five-goal league return not telling the full story. Parrott started well and then suffered a loss of form that cost him his place in the side and fuelled whispers about where his career was going. He has bounced back to win praise from manager Liam Manning for his unselfish work in a side that is in the winning groove and pushing for promotion. The implication is that the penny is beginning to drop, and the player agrees with the sentiment.

“It just shows football is a weird sport,” says Parrott, “Anything can happen at any time and I think it’s just realising it’s not as easy as maybe I thought it was going to be when I was 16 or 17. Another thing I’ve learned is not to get too high and not to get too low. You can be in two completely different spots at the snap of a finger. So it’s just trying to keep level-headed.”

His reluctance to get drawn into discussion around Antonio Conte’s arrival at Spurs and where he stands there. Instead, the focus is on the day to day, quite literally. Parrott dismissed any suggestion that he wasn’t living his life right off the field. However, he concedes that the application away from match-day needed work.

“I think the most important thing is how you train,” asserts Parrott, speaking on Irish duty ahead of the double-header with Belgium and Lithuania.

“You should train how you play and that’s one of the things I have picked up while I have been out on loan. I just try to give my best and I will try to be one of the best players in training when I get back.

“I just realised that ultimately you get one shot at this football game and where I was at the time wasn’t helping me get to where I wanted to get to. I realised I just needed to do more, to grow up as a person and a player.”

He might have a chat with Harry Kane when he’s back there. Lofty comparisons can be unhelpful, yet there is encouragement to be taken from the fact that Kane’s loan journey was chequered before he suddenly took flight.

“It helps when you see stuff like that and realise it,” Parrott admits. “It didn’t happen for me at Millwall and Ipswich; it’s just realising it doesn’t happen in a day or a week or maybe even a season, it could take longer than that and that’s something I’m beginning to realise.”

Bad experiences can sometimes be as beneficial for development as the good ones, and Parrott’s priorities remain the same even if he’s accepted that it might take longer to get there.

He’s asked if he thought he had arrived when he was 17 and makes an important point. “At the time, I thought I was on the right track,” he says, before adding, “And even now, I still think I’m on the right track. “Maybe, at this age, I would have liked to have played more games for Tottenham but it hasn’t gone like that and I am where I am today, (but) where I wanted to be when I was 17 is still where I want to be now. It’s a good thing that I have realised it can go one of two ways, and the way I want it to go is up.”

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