WREXHAM AFC must be special because Phil Parkinson wasn't going to make his return to management at any old club.

The 53-year-old boasts nearly two decades’ experience as a manager, and has become highly respected in the game during a career that has seen him take charge of six different clubs.

During his time in the dug-out, Parkinson has won promotion on three occasions and most recently was at the helm at Sunderland who he parted company with in November 2020.

Job offers followed but he was waiting for the right opportunity - and it arrived when Wrexham came calling.

Parkinson, who has signed a 12-month rolling contract, feels he has got the chance to "create something" at the third oldest club in the world which was taken over by Hollywood stars Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds earlier this year.

"It has been a difficult year for everybody in terms of the pandemic and when I left Sunderland I enjoyed a bit of time with my family," said Parkinson.

"There has been a few opportunities to go back in which I wasn't interested in because in my mind, I wanted to go into a role where I could really get my teeth into and make something of a club.

"I just feel that Wrexham is that perfect opportunity.

"I don't want to be a manager who goes to a club almost just to pick your wages up and you don't feel you can create something so this is a chance to do that.

"We all know there is a lot of work which lies ahead of us - there is no magic wand and the owners know that.

"The structure has got to be gradually improved at the club in all areas but we are working towards that long term vision of the foundations of the club while in the short term trying to recruit some players which can give us the best opportunity this season."

Wrexham has received global publicity in the wake of the famous actors becoming owners but the success-starved Reds are preparing for a 14th season in non-league.

Expectations are even higher following the takeover but that doesn't faze Parkinson who wants to build a side that will challenge for promotion in 2020-21.

"There is going to be added expectation, exposure around the club, which I think is a good thing," said Parkinson.

"Let's embrace that and I think it is important we do.

"But as we know, the name and the history of the club doesn't win you games on a Saturday afternoon.

"It is about getting the squad and the team, the quality and the squad depth right, and that is what the off-the-pitch team have got to work towards now.

"That is where all our energy is going."

Parkinson is no stranger to high profile jobs having managed Colchester United, Hull City, Charlton Athletic, Bradford City, Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland.

All this after making more than 500 league appearances in 18-year playing career.

More than half of those games were at Reading where he got his first taste of coaching as his playing days were coming to an end.

"Towards the end of my playing career, when I hit 30 I started doing my coaching badges," said Parkinson.

"If you want to stay in the game when you finish, you have got to try and get you qualifications like I did.

"When I was 33-34, Alan Pardew was manager of Reading at the time and he gave me a few coaching responsibilities; if I was injured or out of the team, I would go and watch the opposition or take the reserves so I had a bit of an education at Reading."

Parkinson took his first steps in management with Colchester in 2003 and he led the U's to a first ever promotion to the second tier in the 2005-6 season, something he was rightly proud of.

"That job came out of the blue," said Parkinson.

"I was offered the chance to stay at Reading as reserve team manager and got the chance to go and speak to the Colchester owner.

"I had two interviews and got offered the job.

"Your life suddenly changes because going from a player to a manager is a huge transition.

"I moved my family over and we had some great years.

"We got promoted to the Championship for the first time in the club's history.

"I took over a team which was perennial fighters for relegation in League One and gradually created a culture there, recruited some good players and it was great to get promotion."

There was more success at Bradford as Parkinson earned national recognition after leading the fourth-tier Bantams to the 2012-13 League Cup Final.

They went up to League One at the end of the same season, before another cup giant-killing when they beat Chelsea in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge in the following campaign.

Parkinson likens the challenge at Wrexham to the one he was faced with at Bradford.

"Bradford reminds me a bit of Wrexham; it was a sleeping giant at the time, it had a tough time financially," said Parkinson.

"But I looked at that and thought, 'what a great opportunity to get that club going' and I was able to do that.

"I feel Wrexham is similar; huge potential, sleeping giant as everybody says, incredible catchment area and the passion of the supporters just reminds me of that Bradford situation."

Parkinson, who enjoyed a third promotion as manager of Bolton, loved the cup runs he experienced with Bradford.

"At Bradford there was no money from the owners. There was just two local guys who ran the football club," added Parkinson.

"But the money we generated from the cup runs enabled us to build a better squad.

"The cup run gave people memories they will never forget, like all the Wrexham fans who were at the Arsenal game, but equally the finances for the club, it was huge."