Gary Parkinson gets 'incredible reception' at Middlesbrough match

The family were given a standing ovation when they were introduced to the crowd at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium

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Former footballer Gary Parkinson received a standing ovation from fans while attending his first game since he was diagnosed with locked-in syndrome.

The ex-Middlesbrough and Burnley player attended a match between his former clubs at the Riverside Stadium on Thursday.

Mr Parkinson was head youth-team coach with Blackpool FC when he suffered a stroke in September 2010.

His son Luke said the fans had provided an "incredible reception".

'Gary is buzzing'

Mr Parkinson began his career at Everton in 1985 before moving to Middlesbrough. He also played for Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End, Burnley and Blackpool.

What is locked-in syndrome?

  • A rare neurological disorder that causes total paralysis of the muscles
  • People with the syndrome are conscious and can think - but are unable to speak or move
  • Eye movement is usually possible and some can communicate by blinking
  • Typically caused by a stroke, traumatic brain injury or diseases that attack the nerve cells
  • Before his death in August, campaigner Tony Nicklinson described his locked-in syndrome as a living nightmare

Source: US National Institutes of Health

At the time he took ill, he was the head of youth training at Blackpool, a position he had held since June 2006.

His son said although it was emotional for Mr Parkinson to return to his old club, it was "smiles all round really" for the family.

He also tweeted on the Gary Parkinson Trust Twitter account that his father wanted to thank everybody for their support.

He wrote: "Gary is buzzing not sure he will sleep tonight! Thanks again for the incredible reception!"

Middlesbrough won the match 1-0.

Mr Parkinson, who requires 24-hour care and is unable to speak, move or swallow, spent two years in hospital before he returned home in time for Christmas last year.

He communicates by moving his eyes and his son said he was progressing "a little every day".

Fans and former colleagues have raised funds for the 45-year-old through his charity, The Gary Parkinson Trust.

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