Josh Parker says he has achieved his childhood dreams as he won promotion with Charlton to the Championship – just two years on from working in a coffee shop and believing his football career was over.

The striker, who spent a few years abroad with Slovenian outfit Domzale and Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade, joined non-league Wealdstone in 2017 before signing for Gillingham two weeks later.

But before joining the Gills he said he endured a difficult few years at Red Star which allegedly included not being able to go home when his nan passed away.

According to an interview with, problems emerged as early as into his third game when he was accused of “poaching” a goal off his then-strike partner during a match.

Parker also claimed the club planted stories about him, which apparently led to fans whistling his every touch in a friendly against a Russian club.

After the 28-year-old was loaned out to Aberdeen in 2016, he became embroiled in a legal dispute with his employers – which he won but unable to recover all his pay.

He was without a club for six months between July 2016 and January 2017 before joining Gillingham, working in a coffee shop during that time, but two years on he’s helped the Addicks return to the second-tier of English football.

“As a lot of people know I’ve had a lot of stuff going on, inside of football and outside of football, so to think two years ago I was working in a coffee shop and now I’ve just got promotion at Wembley doesn’t really weigh up in my mind,” Parker said, speaking after the League One play-off final against Sunderland.

“Because, for me, football was done two years ago and now I’m here with this bunch of lads and it’s just surreal. It is really surreal.

“I’ve got many years left in me but, for me, this kind of wraps up everything that, as a kid, I wanted to achieve.

“I’ve had promotion, I’ve captained my country [Antigua and Barbuda], I’ve played for my country, I’ve played for one of the biggest teams in European history at Red Star, I’ve played in front of 70,000 [spectators].

“So everything that you could ask of as a kid, I’ve done it now.

“For me, I’m very, very happy and now I can go away and enjoy my holiday with my family and move forward.”

Parker is now on holiday, as is the rest of the team, but will not part of Bowyer’s plans next season after being released by the club.

Despite that, he seems pleased with what he’s achieved in such a short space of time.

“I don’t think you can ever match this,” Parker added. “Especially against a team of the size of Sunderland – one of the biggest teams ever [in the Premier League] – but the same with Charlton.

“Now we’re back where at least where we belong, but there are still aspirations beyond this.”