FOR Neil Parry the euphoria of keeping the ball out of the net has no equal - so it’s a good thing he’s developed a knack for it.

The stopper has come a long way since trudging off the pitch with Queen’s Park team-mate Andy Robertson at the end of a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Peterhead back in the halcyon May days of 2013.

From the doldrums of the Junior game, Parry paid his dues with the historic amateurs before moving onto Albion Rovers and later crossed the Monklands divide to sign for Airdrieonians.

Having spent his younger days watching the legendary John Martin and later Javier Sanchez Broto in the terraces of Airdrie’s old Broomfield Park, the switch was a no-brainer.

A happy season was spent with the part-timers before a change of ownership and direction - namely, a return to full-time football - put paid to his time with his boyhood club.

So when Jack Ross came calling, there was no doubt in his mind that the Wee County was the place to be.

In an odd twist of fate, Parry's first league game for the Wasps was a 4-0 demolition of Peterhead and he’s gone from strength-to-strength ever since.

Now widely regarded as the finest part-time goalkeeper in the country, Parry’s personal development may not quite follow the same path as Robertson’s - and barring a remarkable few seasons for the Wasps, that’s unlikely to change - but in its own way his story is no less impressive.

It’s a tale of personal development, sacrifice, and setback but one in which he’s worked hard to squeeze out every extra ounce of ability he could find.

But for Parry, the battle to become the undisputed part-time number one has been as much against the pretenders as it has been against his own mind.

"I read a quote that said goalkeeping is 90 per cent mentality and 10 per cent mentality,” he said as he spoke to Advertiser Sport about his rise in the game. “I think that's 100 per cent true.

"The mentality side is huge in goalkeeping and you usually find that goalkeepers improve as they get to my age.

"As a goalkeeper, there's so much decision making. You can maybe go to training and make hundreds of saves but in a game you are busy if you are making four or five.

"I think I have matured in that side of things. My kicking has also improved, which used to be a big fault of mine.

"You are always going to make mistakes; that happens to the best in the world. It's about limiting them and not letting them affect you too much.”

The 33-year-old was a crucial part in Alloa securing Championship survival against the odds last season and it says a lot that he is believed to have only narrowly missed out on a place in the PFA Scotland’s Championship Team of the Season to Ross County’s Scott Fox.

But, despite the plaudits coming his way from every corner of the game - he was later selected by the SPFL in their own team of the season alongside team-mate Andy Graham - Parry is quick as always to highlight others rather than himself.

"It's (my own development) down to a number of things. Alan Fraser the goalkeeper coach has been excellent and the settled defence in front of me - from Andy (Graham) to Scotty (Taggart) - really helps," he said.

"Andy's communication almost goes unnoticed but it's second to none and really makes my job a lot easier as a goalkeeper.

"Playing at a higher level brings the best out of you and I've certainly been a lot busier in the Championship.

"Playing at bigger grounds and in front of bigger crowds drives you on and it's something I've always thrived off of, even going back to my days at Queen's Park.

"A big part of the game is being able to come out and take crosses. It's a skill that goes unnoticed and it is noticeable when you see goalkeepers who are prepared to take the initiative.

"If you are prepared to do it, I think you will find you will just get better at it. It's not easy and in my opinion it's the hardest position.

"When you put in a performance which makes a difference, you know it's all worthwhile."

It wasn’t a perfect season by any means, however, and Parry will be the first to admit that for all the praise, there were setbacks along the way.

No less so than in the Scottish Cup against St Mirren when a spilled shot allowed the Cody Cooke to fire home and turn the game on its head, eventually seeing the Wasps fall to a 3-2 defeat.

But it speaks volumes of Parry’s personal journey that he soon bounced back and produced a number of game winning performances in the final relegation run-in.

Now, he’s hoping lesson from his own career can help inspire the next generation of goalkeepers as he takes his first steps into coaching.

Working with his local side East Kilbride Youth Club (EKYC), he is determined to help youngsters develop the mental toughness needed for the loneliest role in football.

"When I work with young goalkeepers,” Parry said. “I see that they make mistakes and then carry that with them for the rest of the night. You need to be mentally strong and put that behind you.

"EKYC asked me to come along and it's ideal. Young Chris (Henry) also comes along and helps me, which is great for the two of us.

"The boys are a bit mad and keep us on our toes.

"I am really enjoying it and it's (a career in coaching) something I have spoken to Alan (Fraser) about. I will look at it over the next couple of seasons.

"But I am really enjoying playing right now and I am very happy to be at Alloa."

Parry’s enjoying his time so much in the Wee County he wasted no time at all in putting pen to paper on a new deal when Jim Goodwin asked him to stay on for another year.

It will make it a fourth season as a Wasp and Parry admits he didn’t think twice about agreeing to the offer.

He said: "There was no doubt I was going to go anywhere else and I am really looking forward to another season with Alloa in the Championship.”