Troy Parrott has described Aaron Connolly’s double breakthrough into the Premier League and Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifying campaign as a source of inspiration, as the young Spurs hot shot prepares to make his own senior debut against New Zealand.
“It was kind of motivation for me because a month before, me and Aaron played together against Armenia and Sweden (for the U21s),” he said.
“I was at the game against Spurs when he played and did well (for Brighton), and then it was great to see him go on and play in the full internationals. It just made me think: I want to do the same. It’s good to be on the other side of the fence now.
Coming in here is a huge achievement for me, and the training has been good as well. Luckily enough, the opportunity has come about this time and hopefully I’m able to take it with both hands. I just can’t wait to get out there.
It has been well-documented that, at 17, Parrott will become the third-youngest debutant in Irish football history when he steps out at the Aviva Stadium against the All Whites..
Aged just six-and-half when the evergreen Glenn Whelan was making his own debut back in 2008, Parrott was busy helping the DDSL to victory in the Kennedy Cup in 2016 when Ireland were at their last European Championships. Now, just three years later, he finds himself in a position to stake a claim to help the team qualify for the next Euros.
“Yeah, it’s crazy what can happen in a couple of years,” he told FAI TV. “The Kennedy Cup was great. A great week, a great bunch of lads, great coaches – just all ‘round enjoyable. When we were down there, we went to watch the Ireland-France game so it just goes to show a lot can happen in a short period of time.”
Especially for someone who is reliable at finding the back of the net.
“For me, striker is where I want to play,” he said. “For me it’s about scoring goals. That’s all I want to do, to be honest. If someone can score I think it helps to go up the levels quicker.
When I went to the U21s I scored on my debut. And I’m not planning on stopping now.
And he acknowledges that it helps, on his introduction to the senior set-up, to have Ireland’s record scorer Robbie Keane as a mentor.
“It’s good, yeah. Because he came from Spurs and obviously he was a top, top player and we play in the same position, it’s good to have people like that around that I can learn off and take advice off, that I can just listen in and try to tap into his knowledge.”
It also sounds like he has inherited Mr Keane’s penchant for belting out a song. Reminded that he sang a One Direction hit when he made his debut for Ireland at U15 level (“I can’t remember which one: even if I could I wouldn’t say”), Parrott isn’t fazed at the prospect of his senior initiation ceremony.
“It’s another chance to get the vocals out,” he said. “Listen, I’ll put on a show. I’ll give all the boys a laugh.”
Followed by another show against New Zealand?
“That’s the plan.”