He challenged for the ball in front of the Stretford End on a typically cold Monday night under the lights of Old Trafford.
The clash between himself and Lee Sharpe was so fierce the ball popped, and the baffled referee eventually decided to award a corner to Manchester United.
It was 1989, and Sir Alex Ferguson, then yet to be knighted, let alone lift a trophy at the club he had joined three years earlier, was desperate to win the FA Cup tie.
Paul Parker, the opposition defender for Queens Park Rangers, made his way to the near post to defend the set piece, only to hear a large batch of Manchester United fans chanting at him: "Shoot that n*****."
"I stopped and looked at them, put a fake gun to my head with my hands, pulled the trigger and then just shook my head and said 'nah'," he tells the Manchester Evening News.
"And what did they do? They all started laughing, because they were embarrassed."
It was the best way he'd found to deal with an awful situation that was all too familiar to players of his generation.
"Do I cry? Do I crumble? No, you don't. I think the worst thing you can do as a black player is walk off the pitch, because you're giving them what they want.
"If you don't like something in life, you can't walk away. You need to prove a point, you need to show you deserve to be there.
"Be a better man. Be a better footballer. Go and show them."
Manchester United won the game 3-0 on the night, a victory that set them on their way to win the FA Cup later that season.
It was Ferguson's first trophy as manager of the club - but he'd go on to win many more, and with Parker on his side.
Having had four successful seasons at QPR, the full back who represented England in that iconic Italia '90 World Cup semi-final against Germany was hot property.
He recalls Sheffield Wednesday, Arsenal, Everton, and the team he supported as a young lad, Tottenham, all being in for him.
Parker was sat in discussions with then-Spurs boss Terry Venables about a lucrative move to White Hart Lane when his agent got a call.
It was Maurice Watkins, a non-executive director at Manchester United, telling him that Parker was wanted at Old Trafford too.
Parker recalls: "Straight away we drove up to Manchester, and when we got there I thought there was something going on. Like an event.
"There were all these people going into the club shop. Going into the museum. Going on the stadium tour.
"It never crossed my mind that a club would have its own museum.
"When you're at QPR or Fulham you're struggling for office space, let alone a museum.
"I'd played at Old Trafford before as a QPR player but walking around the pitch, being shown around by Sir Alex. In my head right there it was done. It was never about money. Spurs had offered me more. Not interested.
"I'm a big believer that if you get a chance to test yourself and challenge yourself, go and do it. Be brave enough, try it. In football there's always a challenge and Manchester United was that challenge for me."
Parker had arrived to a dressing room that included Bryan Robson, Denis Irwin, Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister - as well as Peter Schmeichel, who was the team's other transfer addition that season.
This was a team of talented, hard-as-nails men who had yet to win the league title - a trophy that had eluded Manchester United since 1967, during the era of Sir Matt Busby.
Success on an unprecedented scale was just around the corner, however.
Parker says: "I'd already played for my country in the World Cup, but I'd never won a trophy, I had no medals.
"But the first thing you notice when you join United is that it was all about preparation and giving you the tools for success.
"You go through the big red gates at The Cliff (Manchester United's training ground at the time), and then there's a sign that says 'The Manchester United Training Complex'. And you knew that you were there as a professional, it was a place of serious work.
"At QPR or Fulham where I was before, where they didn't have their own training ground, you'd almost just be going round west London looking for somewhere to train. It was never yours. You were nomads.
"But at United, you were a professional, an employee."
The new surroundings also brought a new boss for Parker in Alex Ferguson, who was still striving to replicate his remarkable success at Aberdeen.
"He was somebody who was... almost desperate for success. He had to do it. His life depended on it. He made himself that way, that hungry, to do it," Parker said.
"It meant that much to him... to push yourself into history... there are many people in football who perhaps achieve something and then they think 'great, that's it'.
"If he looked at you and saw you were content with one trophy, you'd be out the club. It had to be more. Serial winners everywhere - Dennis Irwin, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville. Same appetite every season."
The word 'intensity' crops up as Parker describes Sir Alex - and that intensity was reflected into his players.
"The quietest two were me and Dennis in the team," Parker says.
"Everyone was a boss about things in the own right, but there were different personalities.
"Sparky (Mark Hughes) would be quiet in the dressing room but out there on the pitch for 90 minutes if you weren't delivering the goods he'd let you know.
"Bryan Robson, everyone knows what a character he was. Peter Schmeichel, if he made a save he wouldn't be happy about it - he'd be having a go at his defenders for even allowing the opposition to have a shot.
"His concentration levels were incredible. Steve Bruce, another player who was a fantastic character and it's a disgrace how underrated he is when he's ranked among the best defenders seen in our game."
The side won the League Cup in Parker's first season - it may not be among the major trophies in the story of Manchester United, but it was his favourite. His first as a professional, or as he puts it: "The first where it didn't just sit in my mum's loft in a box". They also bagged the European Super Cup.
It was in his second season, however, that the big trophy arrived. The Premier League was formed and Manchester United were set to be its inaugural winners, ending a 26-year wait for a league title.
History often throws up easy-to-tell tales of charismatic, self-assured figures strolling into a chaotic situation and transforming the fortunes of all involved overnight.
Of course life is far more complex than that... however when it comes to the 1992/93 season at Manchester United, and the signing of a certain Eric Cantona, Parker says it really was that simple.
"When he turned up, we were good. We'd just finished 2nd in the league. But he made us great, he added creativity, the link between the midfield and attack.
"He has an aura and teams had to work so hard to try and stop him. He wouldn't allow himself to be marked, he didn't want to play as a traditional forward.
"Now and then sure he could do it and play that way but Eric was different, he wanted to play these little cameo roles in different parts of the pitch.
"On and off the pitch he added so much. In the offices too, because I think the women liked the look of him.
"From a marketing perspective, they built a huge thing around him and the Number 7. Clubs across the world replicate that today. So he didn't just transform the football team, but the whole club."
The King, as he became known, was not without his quirks, however.
"He was unusual. Different. A bit mad.
"But he was a good team mate for us. He had his own ways, he made a difference to our team. You put him in a black bin liner and he'd look like a million dollars.
"He had his shoulders back, his collar up. If anyone else did that the boss would murder us but Sir Alex gave him the space to do that.
"When you've got those maverick players, you need to give them some of that freedom. He knew he needed him, he knew he had to manage him well, but he knew he had to let him be himself. Let him off the leash slightly.
"Were we jealous? Not at all. Because we knew our limits. If Eric is not himself, you're never going to get the best out of him and Sir Alex realised that."
The season also saw youngsters David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Gary Neville make their debuts, while a teenage Ryan Giggs was becoming an accomplished first team player.
And now, as champions, United flexed their muscles with the addition of Roy Keane from a relegated Nottingham Forrest.
Upon retiring, Keane was asked during an ITV documentary to name the best 11 players he'd played with on a team sheet. In the right back slot? Paul Parker.
"Roy is honest," Parker says.
"He has his own mind, people think about Gary Neville and The Treble and all that... maybe people think he'd be the right choice because of that but he's not afraid to speak his mind."
With the Irish midfielder in the side, and a batch of promising youngsters from the much-heralded Class of 92 coming through, the side marched their way to another league title in the 1993/94 season - as well as an FA Cup, the trophy Parker had dreamed of winning his whole career.
However after three seasons of brilliant success at Old Trafford, injuries took their toll on Parker as Gary and Phil Neville emerged from the academy and began to take first team roles in defence.
So after the highs, came the lows.
In his final two years, Parker only made a handful of appearances.
"What that club can put into you is that bit of bitterness," he said. "Because you know what it's like to be there when things are achieved.
"You've been and done it, and you want more of it. And then you're not in the thick of it, and you're seeing other people do it... if I could hold onto that feeling of winning it with United forever, I would.
"Any player who stops playing for United, it leaves a big hole. When I left United 12 months later I stopped playing.
"You go play for other clubs but it leaves a big hole. People's expectations are different, they expect to see more... and you do lose a bit. You lose that drive - it's very difficult to get back to where you've been when you've been at Manchester United.
"I had five years... the only disappointment is I didn't get there sooner.
"People say who do you follow? I say 'I don't follow United... because United follow me'."
While today he can look back on a fantastic career, it's not one he felt safe enough to share with his family at the time.
Despite enjoying all the success that football had to offer, Parker's parents would never go and see him play.
For him, breaking down barriers - being among the first black men to represent England in a World Cup finals tournament - came with a cost.
"I wouldn't let them come to a game," he says.
"My mum would never be afraid of anything... but I didn't want them to go to games. I didn't want them to go and hear what they'd hear."
What they'd hear is the sickening abuse he recalled receiving in front of the Stretford End in 1989.
Another routine chant he'd have to listen to during a game was 'there isn't no black in the Union Jack' - he says that was most often heard playing at Leeds, or away at other Yorkshire clubs.
"I wanted my parents to enjoy that I was a footballer, my dad was so proud of me for playing for United. He knew Dennis Law, Bobby Charlton, George Best... but I'd never let them come and see me play because I'd worry.
"My mum's a 4ft 11 pocket dynamo and if someone would have said regarding me, she'd have lost her temper. And what could I do to protect them when I'm out on the pitch? So no, I wouldn't allow it.
"Even at Old Trafford, some non-tolerant person could shout something about me being black... so that was me, I just wouldn't allow that situation. They never asked to come... they had an idea why. But they were still very proud."
Today the Black Lives Matter movement has brought the problem of racism to the forefront in football.
It's not a movement Parker endorses, he insists that 'football and politics don't mix' and is critical of players taking the knee before kick off - he feels it's 'for social media' and won't lead to tangible change.
"Would I do that if I was playing today? Not a chance," he says.
"I believe in what Show Racism the Red Card are doing, I've been involved in that. They're going into schools, with an emphasis on education, that's how I feel we address it."
And while he has his frustrations with the Black Lives Matter movement, he is more hopeful for the future - and for his 19-year-old cousin Ben Johnson, who has broken through into the West Ham first team this season and plays in Parker's old position of right back.
"In his lifetime he's never going to get what I got in one season," he said.
He reflects now on those who racially abused him when he played as 'not racist... just ignorant'.
"Players who played in my era, we knew we couldn't argue back. So you wouldn't see stories of people being castrated for what they've said to a footballer - people would be afraid of losing their jobs, or a backlash if they took that stand.
"That why there were so many great black players in that time, because we were - and are still - so mentally strong. We were doing what we felt we were destined to do. No one was ever going to take away our dream by making stupid noises.
"They've paid their money, travelled a long way, maybe had a bad night on the booze, argument with the wife, to have a go at me for 90 minutes - all when I know that if they passed me in the street they wouldn't say boo to a goose. So you feel sorry for them in that sense. They've lost.
"I'd say to a white team mate 'don't you ever feel sorry for me, because I'll deal with it. I'm going to do my job'.
"The question is just: can you make a difference? Can you make it better for the next generation?
"Don't look for it now, because I'm 56 - it ain't going to be happen.
"But it's about the future."
Parker is a regular pundit on the Talking Devils podcast, and is working on a book about the early days of Sir Alex Ferguson with author Wayne Barton.