THIRTEEN years is a long time in football. There are very few footballers that hang around in one place for half that time these days. But Ray Parlour is the archetypal one club player, so that is why it was so hard for him to leave Arsenal this summer.

After making 468 appearances for the Gunners, since signing in March 1991, the time arrived for Parlour to move on.

And, difficult as it was, he knew immediately that he had to uproot from his London home as he enters the twilight of his career.

Living out of a suitcase, along with Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink since his move from Chelsea, Parlour's life has changed dramatically as he begins a new era away from the big city.

The industrial landscape that stretches the Teesside skyline has come under fire from many quarters over the years but - as Christian Karembeu, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Alen Boksic will suggest - the North Yorkshire countryside and the Cleveland Hills are perfect places to settle down.

Now Parlour, after signing a three-year deal at Boro, has opted for the North-East in an attempt to start afresh after a year in which he was only second-string at Arsenal and troubled with court battles outside of football.

In July he lost a high-profile case as his ex-wife, Karen, was awarded maintenance amounting to almost a third of his future income.

Now it is time for Parlour, who has taken a substantial cut on his basic Arsenal wage of £750,000 a year, to concentrate once again on his career.

"This is a good squad we have at Middlesbrough and, after taking a look around the area, I knew almost straight away that this was going to be the place for me to come to," says the 31-year-old.

"It's a fantastic area and that did not take me long to realise. It's only the first time I have been to the North-East but I have been impressed with what is around here.

"There's a massive passion around here and now this club wants more success after tasting it last year.

"But it was not just a nice area that I was looking for. I was coming to the last year of my contract at Arsenal and I did not play as regularly as I would have liked last season.

"That is to be expected because there are some world-class players in that squad. It was a wrench to leave because I have loved my time there but this was the time to leave.

"I looked at the team here at Middlesbrough, though, and I thought why not?

"Now I have come here to win medals and not to finish mid-table. Hopefully I can add to my collection."

Parlour has won more in his 13 years at Highbury than Boro have in their 128-year existence.

Three league titles, two FA Cup winner's medals as well as playing in both the Champions League and the UEFA Cup with Arsenal.

Compare that to Boro's solitary Carling Cup success, in February when they overcame Bolton at the Millennium Stadium, and the huge gulf between Parlour;s two clubs is evidently clear.

But victory in Cardiff heralded the start of a new era at the Riverside.

Playing European football will be something new to Boro's supporters but, perhaps rather more importantly, such trips will not be as unfamiliar to the Boro players.

As well as Parlour's experience of playing among this continent's finest, McClaren has also added other men with similar pedigree to his playing staff. Hasselbaink and Mark Viduka have both played at Champions League level with Chelsea and Leeds respectively, while Michael Reiziger has lifted silverware at Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona.

But, having turned his back on Arsenal with a year remaining on his contract, Parlour is not just happy to move to Teesside and pick up his pay packet.

He wants to add more medals to his list of honours, proving that he was not just a beneficiary of the outstanding Arsene Wenger team.

"This Middlesbrough squad is definitely good enough to challenge for honours," says Parlour.

"I wouldn't have came here if I didn't think so. Just look at the players here and I think everyone will agree there's some great players. Not just those that have signed in the summer, but the likes of Southgate, Ehiogu, Boateng, Schwarzer - they are all great players.

"I have an experience of winning and it's a nice habit to have. I would love for that habit to continue here at Middlesbrough.

"Hopefully we can go a long way this season, in both the Premiership and in Europe. It was 128 years without a trophy and expectations are higher now."

Perhaps Parlour's greatest chance of glory at his new club will be in the FA Cup, he was something of lucky omen for the Gunners while he was there.

Two years ago he scored a fine 30-yard drive to help Arsenal to a 2-0 win over Chelsea and in 1998 he was named man of the match at Wembley when he was instrumental in the success over Newcastle United - Boro's first opponents of the Premiership new season on August 14.

It was that sort of form that helped him earn ten caps for his country - the last of which came in Italy in 2001 - and the now retired former Arsenal winger Marc Overmars actually hailed him as the Romford Pele.

And now, if he can maintain the immediate and impressive impact he has had on Boro's play during pre-season, there is every chance his new Dutch colleagues at Boro could herald the arrival of the Riverside's version.

Read more about Middlesbrough here.