By Jeremy Walker
When Alex Parsons put pen to paper on his switch to Sydney FC, he was stunned to discover he would be sharing the spotlight with an England international he grew up watching bamboozle Premier League defences.
The 22-year-old winger from Ipswich arrived from Brisbane Roar in early August – in the same week former Everton hero Jack Rodwell agreed a move to the Allianz Stadium.
And Parsons is relishing the opportunity to play alongside Sydney FC’s new centre half.
“I supported Everton because my dad is from there and is a supporter, my whole family is, so I didn’t really get a choice!” Parsons explained.
“It’s pretty crazy, my whole family are mad Evertonians and obviously Jack played for them.
“I was quite young at the time but I remember watching him play on the tele and he’s a fantastic player.”
In addition to lining-up alongside Rodwell, Parsons is eager to learn from other experienced players in the squad, paying close attention to the likes of Adam Le Fondre and new signings Róbert Mak and Joe Lolley.
“I think you’d be silly not to try and learn and pick up little things here and there. Obviously you try and soak up as much information from them as you can,” Parsons added.
“Every day I look to see the little things they do in training, how they strike a ball, how they move, I think you have to pick up little bits of information from these experienced players to improve.”
Growing up in Ipswich just outside of Brisbane, Parsons spent a lot of his time at his local football club, Western Spirit FC—devoting countless hours on the football pitch.
With his parents also working at the club, Parsons was constantly involved in football from a young age.
“It was pretty crazy growing up in a football family and Western Spirit is one of those grassroots clubs that has hundreds of juniors,” the winger said. “My parents worked within the football club and obviously I was there all the time kicking the ball around.
“It was a place where as a kid you could just go and play football and not have to worry about anything else.”
Previously playing for the Brisbane Roar, Parsons has scored five times and bagged three assists from 28 A-League appearances—12 of which he made the starting line-up.
Breaking through as a 20-year-old at the Roar provided the youngster with the confidence to play at the top level, going on to experience finals football with the Queensland outfit.
“I think I broke through at a good time at Brisbane because you obviously had very good players around and the team was doing very well when I came through and went into the finals,” said Parsons.
“For a young player that’s probably what you want to do is to play with players that allow young players to come through and obviously there have been a few that have come through [at Brisbane Roar].”
Lining up for Brisbane saw Parsons face the Sky Blues over the last two A-League campaigns, scoring in Sydney’s 3-1 defeat at Moreton Daily Stadium in their final match last season.
Despite beating Sydney before, Parsons insists that coming up against Steve Corica’s men is never an easy feat.
“You know going in it’s going to be a hard game,” Parsons added. “For a lot of those games as a forward player I spent a lot of my time just defending and running around, it was never pleasant!
“You just knew what you were going to come up against playing Sydney, they’re always going to be technical, they’re always going to control the ball and they’re always going to be in the game.”
‘There’s a clear identity of how we want to play and there’s a clear way of wanting to play football’ – Alex Parsons
Experiencing matches against the Sky Blues already, Parsons is now keen to work under head coach Steve Corica as he seeks to grow under the two-time A-League winning manager.
“Obviously his record speaks for itself, he’s a legend of the club and he’s obviously done the business as a coach,” the 22-year-old said. “Every day coming into training I’m trying to pick up little things here and there.
“He was also an integral player here, so there’s more information there that I can use as well so it’s exciting. There’s a clear identity of how we want to play and there’s a clear way of wanting to play football and I think that’s a good thing as a team.”
As Parsons continues to adjust to life at Sydney FC, focus now turns towards preparing for the nearing Isuzu UTE A-League season—with the attacker eagerly awaiting to see The Cove in action at the new Allianz Stadium.
“It’s been a really easy transition for me, the group’s been really welcoming and it’s a good set-up here so we’ve got the platform to hopefully push on and do well this season,” added Parsons.
“The new ground is incredible and it’s crazy how grand it is, I think it’s probably the best stadium I’ve been into in Australia. I can’t wait to see the fans in it and see it packed out.”