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Burnley hero Parkinson in 'critical' condition
Clarets legend Gary Parkinson is tonight fighting for life in hospital after suffering a stroke.
The 42-year-old, famous for scoring the winning goal at Wembley in the Division Two play-off final of 1994, is said to be in an 'extremely critical condition'.
The dad-of-three, now head of youth at Blackpool FC, was being treated at Salford Royal Hope Hospital after he was taken ill yesterday.
A statement released from Blackpool said: “Head of youth Gary Parkinson is in an extremely critical condition at Hope Hospital, after being transferred from Royal Bolton Hospital yesterday afternoon.
“The thoughts of all at Blackpool FC are with Gary's family at this extremely difficult time.”
The former right-back, who made more than 100 appearances for Burnley between 1994 and 1997, including his star performance in the victory over Stockport County, also enjoyed lengthy spells at Middlesbrough and Preston North End – Burnley's opponents at Turf Moor at 5.15pm tomorrow.
A Burnley FC spokesman said: “The club is very sorry to hear this news.
“We send both Gary and his family our best wishes at this difficult time and hope he can battle through.”
A spokesman for Preston North End said: “Our thoughts go out to Gary and his family at this extremely difficult time.”
Alan Beecroft, chairman of the Ex-Clarets Association and treasurer of Colne Clarets, said it was 'frightening' that such a healthy man could suffer a stroke.
He said: “I was at Jimmy McIlroy's house on Thursday night. We got a phone call to say what had gone on.
“When such a fit bloke, at 42 years old, has something like this happen to him, it frightens you a bit.
"I'm 20 years older than him. It's very, very sad.
“Obviously our thoughts go out to his family at this moment in time. It's horrific.
“My memory of him is when he scored at Wembley. He jumped over the barriers to celebrate with the fans.
"It was such a shock we ever won a game at Wembley!
“I've been waiting for a phone call all day to see if there is any development.”
Defender-turned-coach Jamie Hoyland played with Gary at Burnley for three years.
The Preston North End youth coach said: “I used to get changed next to him.
“I've been on the phone today to David Eyres and Liam Robinson.
"We're all upset and I'm absolutely devastated to be honest.
“He was a brilliant player.
“We've both gone into coaching. He's down the road from me at Blackpool and we talk all the time.
“Something like this hits you out of the blue and it shocks you. I've still not come to terms with it.
“It puts everything else, whatever your troubles are, into perspective.
“We've all got our fingers crossed. I'm 44 and it shows it can happen to anybody. I just can't believe it.
“We played them two weeks ago, he was his same old self moaning about this and moaning about that, he was a great laugh."
David Eyres, who scored the equaliser against Stockport before Parkinson grabbed the second-half winner, said: "He is one of my closest mates in football. I can't take it in at all.
"I can only think of Debbie and the kids. It's just unbearable."
Andy Farrell, who was part of that play-off winning squad and is now assistant youth team coach at Burnley, said: “One of the things about getting promotion that I'll always remember is him and David Eyres - the two goalscorers - pictured together with big smiles on their faces."
On his Twitter account, Burnley fan Alastair Campbell today wrote: “Best wishes to Gary Parkinson and his family. Gary's a Burnley legend because of the Wembley play-off goal v Stockport '94”.