Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks will be the apprentice taking on the master if he gets to face Fulham’s Scott Parker in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday.
When Parker was leading Spurs into the Champions League under Harry Redknapp in 2012, Winks was 16 and still coming up through the club’s youth system.
Parker was a guiding influence on the talented teenager who, now aged 21, is enjoying a breakthrough season at White Hart Lane as third pick in central midfield behind only Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama.
It is perhaps no coincidence that Winks’ tenacity, efficiency and will to win are all reminiscent of Parker in his prime.
“He was a top player and a top person as well,” Winks said.
“He was great with me, always giving me advice, and his career speaks for itself and he’s a player I’d love to aspire to get one day.
“I think when I first trained with the first team he was near the end of his time at Spurs and I was in and out of the sessions.
“As a young scholar just looking up to someone like Scott and training with him it was more like I was in awe of him.
“Hopefully if I do get the chance to play against him it will be respect on both sides, but I will go out and try to win.”
Parker, at 36, is 15 years Winks’ senior and no longer a regular starter for Fulham, who sit eighth in the Championship.
Winks recalled how Parker called him in after training one time for some specific, individual feedback.
“Being a midfielder himself. He was coming to the end of his career at Spurs and he was looking more to the coaching side,” Winks said.
“Obviously he has a lot of advice to pass on and me being a young player coming through the academy I was just trying to get as much advice as possible. Scott just seemed to be perfect for that.
“I remember there was one session after training I went into a room with him and we watched clips back of his game and he talked me through what he thought was good in his game and what I needed to watch back and do myself.
“He is just an all-round midfielder. He has captained England, he is a top player – his passing, his tackling, his mentality.
“When he goes on the pitch, he always gives 100 per cent and that is what I like to emulate as well.”
It is typical of Winks’ own driven personality that he has never liked asking for an opponent’s shirt but he did say he would seek Parker out after the game to catch up.
“I probably won’t speak to him before the weekend but I might shake hands with him after the game and have a five-minute chat with him,” Winks said,
“At the end of the day he is an opponent and you want to win the game so I am not going to get distracted by the fact he is someone I look up to. I will just go into the game as normal.”
Tottenham need a victory at Craven Cottage to boost morale, following Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League defeat to Gent.
The surprise loss in Belgium means Spurs have now managed only two victories in six matches, having won their previous seven in a row.
“Nothing has changed. We’re still approaching every game the same but just the last two games we haven’t been firing,” Winks said.
“We’ve been in situations like this for the last two seasons and we’ve always come out and turned it around.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted on Thursday but we want to put that right against Fulham this weekend.”
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