Jon Parkin: How not to be a modern footballer – tales of a cult hero

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Jon Parkin: The 6'4" 19-stone striker with over 200 goals

For Jon Parkin, a typical pre-match meal would include fishcakes, burgers and a fry-up.

He isn't your average footballer and admits he'll go down as "the last of a dying breed".

At 6ft 4in and 17st, the 36-year-old striker is one of football's heavyweights, aptly nicknamed 'the Beast'. He has scored more than 200 goals in 600 games at clubs including Hull City, Stoke City, Preston, Macclesfield, Fleetwood, Newport County, Cardiff City and York City.

In his own words: "I'm just an average fella from Barnsley who ended up playing football for a bit."

As he looks back on a 20-year career in his new book, BBC Sport takes a look at how not to be a modern professional footballer, via a few tales from one of English football's cult heroes.

Preparing for your debut… fish, chips and 'nookie'

Parkin started his career in the youth team with local club Barnsley. He made his first-team debut at the age of 17 against Hartlepool United.

On my first pre-season it got to the first reserve game and it was just when they had started having five substitutes on the bench instead of three.

I wasn't going to be involved that night for the game. So I met up with a girl who I knew and ended up having a bit of a cheeky afternoon and then went for fish and chips.

It got to the game at 17:00 and I realised it was five subs instead of three and I ended up being sub and having to come on at half-time and obviously I'd just had fish and chips and a bit of nookie in the afternoon.

Pre-season v Real Madrid… a runaway golf buggy and Cannavaro's shirt

During one pre-season at Stoke in 2007, we went golfing in Austria just before we were due to play Real Madrid in a friendly.

I had a golf buggy with goalkeeper Steve Simonsen and we got to a hole at the top of this hill and I just had an urge to put my foot down. We raced to the bottom of the hill and sort of skidded it around on some gravel and I realised we were about to go over, so I bailed out and cut all the bottom of my leg and the buggy ended up rolling over twice with Simmo still in it.

It wasn't my finest hour.

We got the buggy back to the club shop and it cost me about £1,200 to fix the smashed screen and dented roof.

I got bandaged up because there was no way I was missing that game against Real. After the game I asked for Fabio Cannavaro's shirt and he gave it me. I thought that was that.

Then he tapped me on the shoulder and obviously couldn't speak English but gestured at my shirt and I was like 'What?! You want this?' He nodded and I'm thinking 'Why on earth does he want this?'.

He's won the World Cup and I can imagine he's got shirts from everybody and anybody and he's asked for my quadruple XL Stoke shirt.

Fabio Cannavaro
Jon Parkin exchanged shirts with Fabio Cannavaro after Stoke's pre-season friendly with Real Madrid in 2007

Maintaining fitness… 'my diet sheet stayed in the car boot'

I've never even tried to stick to a diet. I've had fitness coaches at every club and as soon as I get my diet sheet I'd leave it in my car boot. I've never lifted weights in my life.

I'd tell them 'If you think I need to do weights then let's take all our clothes off, go in the gym and have a wrestle'. If I lift weights and get bigger then I'm going to get even slower!

When I was at Preston, which was probably some of the best football I've played, I'd have fishcakes and a burger with chips on Friday night, then on Saturday breakfast I'd have a full English and then go and play in the afternoon.

I'm a stickler for pastries so when we'd call at Greggs I'd get my tuna crunch sandwich, a bag of crisps, a pepperoni pizza, a steak bake and either a bacon and cheese turnover or a sausage bean and cheese melt.

Deadline day deal… playing the agent

The best prank 100% that I ever pulled was on Chris Sedgwick on transfer deadline day at Preston.

We got in a bit earlier than him after training and managed to get into his phone and changed my name and number to his agent's name - and I phoned him about 16 times, messaged him telling him to phone back as quickly as he could.

He got in from training and saw all these missed calls from his 'agent'.

We're all watching him and there's this smile on his face and he's stood up cocky as anything and said "looks like I'm off chaps" and walks out of the dressing room and into the car park.

Obviously my phone rings and we all burst out laughing.

He called us all sorts and I said "Get back in here, you're going nowhere."

Then he came in with his tail between his legs. He never got his own back to be fair. He took it well.

Being on time for training… the car crash that never happened

When I was at Preston and living in Barnsley I used to only give myself 10 minutes spare so if there was any traffic and I was late I'd be getting fined.

I woke up one day and it had snowed. It got to about 09:30 and knew I'd have no chance of making it and I knew the manager Alan Irvine would go really mad.

So I phoned him and lied: "I'm really sorry I'm not making it in I've had a car crash. Someone's skidded in the snow and gone into me."

He told me not to worry about it just as long as I was alright, and to get myself home and get sorted. For the next few days I had to go in a different car to make out mine was in the garage getting fixed.

Alan Irvine never found out, until now...

Jon Parkin
"Feed the beast and he will score" is a chant which became synonymous with Parkin

Prepare for retirement… 'I trained as a nursery nurse'

I started a college course when I was about 19 as a nursery nurse. I'd just had enough of football and at 19 I nearly sacked it all off.

I was fined two weeks wages over missing a game while out on loan and told I could leave on a free at the end of the year.

I was like right 'I don't need this it's not for me.' So the next year I ended up signing for York and enrolled on a college course to train as a nursery nurse.

It was going really well. I even got on a placement where I'd do two nights a week for four hours when I got back from training and I'd do all day Wednesdays on placement.

But then I got injured when I was at York and no longer got Wednesdays off, so I just physically couldn't get all my hours in for my placement which was as important as your stuff in the classroom.

I don't think I'd retrain in all that now though, it'd be like Kindergarten Kop wouldn't it? You couldn't be like me now. There's no possible way that you'd be able to get away with it."

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