Paralysed ex-pro spotting talent in the blink of an eye

A PARALYSED former professional footballer is helping Middlesbrough scout players by rating them using a system of blinks.

Gary Parkinson was a youth team coach at Blackpool when he suffered a stroke in September 2010 which has left him with locked-in syndrome.

Middlesbrough boss and former team-mate Tony Mowbray is helping his recovery — and tapping into his knowledge — by sending DVDs of players who are then rated by the 43-year-old former right-back. One blink means the potential target is not worth a contract, four blinks mean sign him now, a club spokesman said.

Parkinson’s wife Deborah passes the information to Mowbray who includes it in his assessment of a player.

In the match programme against Blackpool on Saturday, Mowbray spoke about his support for Parkinson, who he said is held in great affection by both clubs.

He said: “We were determined to give Gary a role, where he could feel involved. Not only that, I genuinely value his opinions about the game.”

Parkinson played in the famous 1986 Boro side — a major part of the club’s history when it folded and the old ground’s gates were locked. Mowbray was captain at the time. Boro coaches Stephen Pears and Mark Proctor have also been to visit regularly.

A club spokesman said: “Gary has an amazing rating system. Deborah his wife sits there and they go through the players and if he blinks four times it means ‘Sign him’.”

She told the Northern Echo newspaper: “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.”

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