He received a standing ovation from both sets of fans and was applauded on to the pitch with his family before the Middlesbrough FC v Burnley game at the Riverside Stadium on Boxing Day.
The 45-year-old, who played for both Boro and Burnley, attended the game with wife Deborah, son Luke and his girlfriend Beth, and daughters Chloe and Sophie.
He played 250 games for Boro between 1986 and 1993 then had spells at Bolton, Burnley and Preston before joining Blackpool.
The fixture, which ended 1-0 to Middlesbrough, was his first game since suffering a stroke in September 2010, which left him with locked-in syndrome — a condition of paralysis.
Mr Parkinson suffered the massive stroke at the home he share with his wife and three children in Westhoughton.
Locked-in syndrome has left him unable to speak, feed himself, walk and he can only communicate by blinking.
Since the devastating seizure, the Gary Parkinson Trust, has been set up in his honor and a raft of fundraising events have been held, including concerts, walks and celebrity football matches.