Early on as a professional, Peter Crouch was derided for his very tall frame and gangly nature but, after a stellar career in which he joined the Premier League 100-goal club and represented several top sides including Liverpool and Tottenham, the former forward now firmly falls into the category of ‘legend’.
He also holds a unique but unsurprising Premier League record, but more of that later.
Unlike some of his peers, it’s not just his considerable achievements on the pitch for which this most-likeable of characters is cherished. Crouch has been part of a hugely-successful podcast, wrote one of the funniest sports autobiographies in years in 2019, has a knack of getting it just right on social media and could be credited with creating a whole new dance genre.
Unsuccessful Start at Spurs
Crouch started out as a youngster with Tottenham but failed to make an appearance for Spurs as a teenager and, after admitting at one point he thought he wouldn’t make it, he joined Queens Park Rangers.
It was there his unusually tall stature first brought him to the attention of football fans as he scored 10 goals in 42 games. A largely unsuccessful loan spell at Aston Villa followed before a brief stint at Southampton.
Liverpool Move and England Fame
At this point, he looked to be heading for a nomadic, fairly average career but a somewhat surprise move to then European champions Liverpool in 2005 saw his profile rise. Despite not scoring for the Reds in his first 19 games following his £7million move, he eventually became a cult figure at Anfield, managing 42 goals in all competitions from 135 appearances, including some memorable acrobatic efforts in Europe.
It was also around this time he endeared himself to England fans with several crucial goals for the Three Lions. In fact, his record for his country overall is very impressive as the 6ft 7in forward racked up 22 goals from just 42 caps and memorably notched in the 2006 World Cup against Trinidad and Tobago.
Back at club level, Crouch played his part as Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool won the FA Cup in 2006 and then lost a Champions League final in 2007, before he joined Portsmouth a year later. A return to boyhood club Spurs followed but it was at Stoke City, where he played for eight years from 2011, where he seemed the most settled and displayed arguably his best form.
Wonder-Volley for Stoke
Crouch struck 46 league goals for the Potters but will always be remembered for one – a stunning long-range volley against Manchester City at home in March 2012 when he controlled the ball, swivelled and smashed it into the opposite top corner from outside the right edge of the penalty area. It was a once-in-a-lifetime effort and one he would describe later as the best of his career.
Crouch also registered his 100th Premier League goal while playing for Stoke (he ended his career with 108) and in May 2015 broke the record for the most headed goals in the Prem. It’s an accolade many will feel he was destined to break due to his rangy frame and it’s one he still holds, ending with 53 top-flight career-headed goals, seven more than Alan Shearer.
Off the pitch, Crouch has managed to become a celebrity figure with his hilarious football anecdotes forming the main part of his popular ‘That Peter Crouch Podcast’ he’s recorded for the BBC. A model partner, TV appearances galore on plenty of adverts and shows, plus a best-selling book have all added to the persona.
He is also loved and well-followed on social media due to his witty put-downs and self-deprecating, honest humour.
But at the heart of it, Crouch still comes across as a down-to-earth bloke who just enjoyed his time in the game and now enjoys his life after it even more.
Oh yes, and the dance. Crouch can dance like a robot.