He's the last of a kind and he won't take any credit for what he has achieved. Never has, never will.

"I am the longest serving Academy Director. Everyone else who was appointed in 1998 has moved on or retired, done other things, I'm the last survivor.

"The game was changing when I became an Academy Director that year. The Charter for Quality had just been introduced, the FA were going to take a much stronger hold in the development of young players and from an hour a week with them it was going to become limitless. When it was reviewed in 2004 my title changed to Academy manager."

No-one could have envisaged what was to come following a meeting between the then Head of Academy Recruitment Ron Bone, Chief Executive Keith Lamb and a Chairman (Steve Gibson) who had a vision - Our Academy is about giving the children of Teesside and surrounding areas an opportunity to become professional footballers.

"I'm eternally grateful to Ron for the introduction. It changed my life, my family's life and allowed us to do things we never really envisaged. Ron's leaving in the summer, the Academy will miss "The Godfather" a lot more than they'll miss me. 

"We use Steve's quote to this day. We've never steered away from that and it still hits true that this is the way I see youth development, the way the club sees youth development. But the game is changing and the club has to move with the times, financially as much as anything.

"I think I have seen Steve half a dozen times over the years for formal meetings. That could mean one of two things, that he doesn't want to see me, or that he trusts me implicitly to get on with the job and I hope it's the latter!

"He can see we have done things properly and we have moved significantly through the years."

The numbers back up the claim.

Since 1997, 95 players have gone on to play first team football at professional level, 44 with Middlesbrough.

There's no magic trick, no secret, just core values which are deep within the man from Kelloe, a small pit village in South Durham. Values instilled by his mother and father and ones written on the walls of the Academy in Rockliffe. Honesty, Humility, Respect.

"I always talk about the Mars bar wrapper theory," says Parnaby. "My first job was a teacher, I was interviewed by Mr Brooks the head teacher. We'd finished the interview and he said I just want to ask you a couple of questions, and he said; 'If you're walking down the corridor (and he was a very well-spoken gentleman) what would you do if you saw a Mars bar wrapper on the floor, no one else around just a mars bar wrapper?'

"I said I would pick it up. He said: 'What would you do with it?' I said I would probably leave it in my pocket until I found a waste paper bin. He says, 'Good, I'm pleased about that, because that Mars bar wrapper is everyone's responsibility, and every child in this place is your responsibility. Every colleague and member of staff in this school is your responsibility'.

"I've never ever forgot that and I think it's a very good message. I've used it in Premier League presentations and if everyone in the game approached their job, I'm talking about members of staff now, everyone approached their job with that mentality, that it's never not my job, it would be great - because when you're in the environment everything is your job. 

"So, your image with the media, you're helping the girls in the office to make their job easier, helping the ground staff, keeping the place tidy, helping Avril and the cleaning staff, I don't think that's a bad way to portray yourself. Somebody who's prepared to go the extra mile, without asking for anything back, you just do it, because you think it's the right thing to do - and I think it is the right thing to do in the game.

"It's a tough industry, but if you went by the Mars wrapper theory I think we would make even greater strides - and I think we do that and I've tried to advocate that. It develops the person, the individual. It doesn't matter how small the job is, take responsibility for it and make sure you get it done.

"I've always remembered that, and I know John McDermott at Tottenham always tells his staff that story, so I'm really proud of that. I suppose you are what you are. 

"But really the bottom line is your best coaches are your parents, and I think I epitomise how my mother brought me up. That Mars bar wrapper was something a head teacher explained to me, but my answer stemmed from my upbringing and the standards that my mother set. And I hope I've brought lots of that to the job.

"Football knowledge, tactical know how, and all that - I hope I brought a little bit of that - but most of all being a good person - and showing other people how to behave themselves. Good manners, and living by the Mars bar wrapper theory's not bad. I think that's the best legacy. Just trying to teach people how to behave and conduct themselves in all kinds of different environments."

It is simply impossible to cover everything 19 years in the game brings in one interview. The highlights, says Parnaby, are many. "Maybe winning the FA Youth Cup in 2004. Maybe that day at Fulham in 2006 when 10 of the 11 starting that Premier League game at Craven Cottage and all the subs were young players who had learned their trade with Middlesbrough. Steve Gibson reminded me of something that day. He said Sir John Hall always used to say he wanted 11 Geordies on the pitch. He said: "Well John Hall has dreamed of it and we've done it, and he said we, and I think that was really poignant, that he said we, and he was right there. Maybe it's when we became National Champions at U18 level in 2015.

"Maybe it's each and every time someone makes it through the Academy into the first team - and one of them is your son. 

"I think we've had some wonderful times. I'd just like to say thank you to everyone I've worked with.

"I'm such a lucky person to have Steve Gibson allow me to work at a club like this.

"I'm fortunate I have had seven managers now. Bryan Robson who introduced me to it all, he was a fantastic player and human being. I enjoyed his company, I enjoyed watching him and listening to him. Terry Venables, who is one of the best man managers I've ever known. Steve McClaren changed the whole environment at the club, it became a coaching environment and Gareth walked off the pitch at Eindhoven and became manager. He's one of the best people I have met in the game.

"I really do hope he goes on to massive things with England. It would be great if he could get a European Championship or World Cup.

"I really enjoyed listening to Gordon (Strachan), his experiences as a man, an individual, and a player were phenomenal. Watching him work with the players on the pitch was really, really good, he was an excellent on the field coach. I would think Gordon would admit himself that where he got it wrong was in the transfer market, it didn't work out the way anybody imagined.

"From Gordon, we moved on to this wonderful man called Tony Mowbray who is just a fantastic human being, a football boffin, just a brilliant, brilliant man. I think everyone from the chairman to the fans are so disappointed that things didn't quite work out the way we all wanted. Brilliant football mind, great coach.

"From Tony, we have moved to Aitor, my first experience as an overseas manager. He came from youth development, he understands the difficulties, understands he challenges. He took us back into the Premier League, hopefully the club will go on to greater and better things.

"Whether it is the Charter for Quality or EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan), the outcome remains the same, to better the national game in this country. To produce better technically equipped English players. Fundamentally that's where I am. I still love the three lions, I still watch all the age groups, so I do have a bias, I make that clear when I'm talking to people in meetings that this is about English players and doing the best we can for English players.



"I'm reluctant to name too many names, because if I miss anyone I'll be really, really annoyed with myself.

"Ron, Wendy (Thomas), Peter (Hood) and Paul (Jenkins) have been with me from the start. I have been fortunate to have worked with so many people who go the extra yard to make things work.

"But I have to single out Wendy, she is the glue that holds everything together and makes things work. People go on about me, it's not me, it's the good people around me and with me that make things happen and Wendy is someone I cannot speak highly enough about.

"She's so professional, meticulous and with such attention to detail, she's a class individual too, as a person.

"I have to thank Neil (Chief Executive Neil Bausor) who has been nothing but supportive of what we've done - and in the last few weeks since I announced my retirement he's been very good. And I wish my successor Craig Liddle, who is a first-class appointment, all the luck in the world. 

"He's a good man, good morals good ethics, strong personality, knows what he wants and hopefully he can take it on another 20 years to help Middlesbrough produce Premier League football players. 

"And it would be wrong not to mention my wife and family - the support they have given me over the years has been phenomenal. Anyone coming into football, we have our eyes wide open - it's 24/7. Ask anyone, you've seen managers, coaches at the senior level - it's no different at academy level. You've got to come in prepared to go that extra mile, to do that extra work, to get recognised, if you have a belief in what you're doing you'll give every ounce to it and your family have to support that. So maybe you're a long time apart, but we're looking forward to the next few years. I'm not sure if Jean is! We have three lovely grandchildren now - and hopefully we can spend a bit more time with them."

And that, says Dave, is the driving reason behind him calling it a day. "I want to spend more time with my family and see the grandchildren on my terms, not those dictated by the demands of this industry."

You can't argue with that.

*Academy players who have played at first team level for either Boro or other clubs

Scholarship GroupFor MFCFor others (globally)
1997Sean Kilgannon
1997Chris Bennion
1997Mark Hudson
1998Christian Hanson
1998Stuart Parnaby
1998Brad Jones
1998Luke Wilkshire
1998Carlos Marinelli
1998Arthuro Bernhardt
1998Brian Close
1998Aron Wilford
1998Gerard Robinson
1999Sam Russell
1999Phil Gulliver
1999Leon Ryan
1999Craig Dove
1999Keith Gilroy
1999Stephen Brackstone
2000Stewart Downing
2000Gary Smith
2000Andrew Kelly
2000Sergio Van Kanten
2000David Murphy
2000Jamie Cade
2001Andrew Davies
2001Chris Brunt
2001Andrew O'Shea
2001Ross Turnbull
2001Niklas Nordgren
2002Andrew Taylor
2002Tony McMahon
2002Gary Liddle
2002Anthony Peacock
2002Danny Graham
2002James Morrison
2002Michele Van Geele
2003Jason Kennedy
2003Matthew Bates
2003Tom Craddock
2003David Wheater
2003David Knight
2003Adam Johnson
2003Dale Roberts
2003Nathan Mulligan
2004Graeme Owens
2004Jonathan Grounds
2004Kevin Burgess
2004Lee Cattermole
2004Seb Hines
2004Rhys Williams
2004Ben Hutchinson
2004Herold Goulon
2005Josh Walker
2005John Johnson
2005Stephen Thompson
2005Nathan Fisher
2005Daryl Robson
2006Nathan Porritt
2006Jonathan Franks
2006Joe Bennett
2006Jason Steele
2006Shaun Saiko
2007Richard Smallwood
2007Theo Furness
2007Jordan Robinson
2007Gary Martin
2007Sam Filler
2007Ashley Corker
2008Cameron Park
2008Patrick Otte
2008James Gray
2008Oni Roushias
2008Derrick Bassi
2008Conor Sellars
2009Luke Williams
2009Conor Murphy
2009Marinos Andreou
2009Charlie Wyke
2009Adam Smith
2009Connor Ripley
2009Ben Gibson
2009Adam Reach
2009Ryan Brobbel
2009Matthew Dolan
2010Wilson Kneeshaw
2010Jarrett Rivers
2010Curtis Edwards
2010Adam Jackson
2010Lewis Sirrell
2011Zak Boagey
2011Anthony Hernandez
2011Dylan McGlade
2011Jordan Jones
2012Bryn Morris
2012Bradley Fewster
2012Mark Kitching
2012Joe Fryer
2013Jonathan Burn
2013Callum Cooke
2013Dael Fry
2014 Harry Chapman
Total4451