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Burnley fans give former player Gary Parkinson a warm welcome back

Former footballer Gary Parkinson went to his first game last night since being diagnosed with locked-in syndrome. Photo: Andy Ford / Burnley Football Club

Former Burnley footballer Gary Parkinson made an emotional return to football yesterday with a Boxing Day appearance at Middlesbrough.

The ex-Clarets defender and Wembley winner was given a rapturous welcome by fans when he appeared pitch-side with his family ahead of kick off.

It is the first time Gary has been to the ground since being left with 'locked-in syndrome' after a stroke in 2010.

He was head youth-team coach with Blackpool FC at the time.

Gary Parkinson with his wife Deborah and son, Luke Credit: Andy Ford / Burnley Football Club

Gary's son Luke took to Twitter after the match, thanking fans for the "incredible reception".

He played for a number of clubs in the North West - including Wanderers, Preston North End, Burnley and Blackpool.

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

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

Gary Parkinson celebrates winning goal in Stockport game, 1994 Credit: Steve Morton/EMPICS