A goal-scoring giant

A terrific start to the season for Peter Crouch.-AP

Peter Crouch has been a revelation since joining the Potters in a club record GBP10 million deal from Tottenham last August. By Pete Thompson.

Peter Crouch would relish the opportunity to return to the England squad and it will be difficult for Roy Hodgson to overlook the Stoke striker on current form.

Crouch took his tally to five goals in seven games this season with a match-winning double against Swansea.

The giant striker has been a revelation since joining the Potters in a club record GBP10 million deal from Tottenham last August. But despite his impressive form, the much-travelled front-man has been overlooked by Hodgson and previous Three Lions boss Fabio Capello.

Not since November 2010 has Crouch played for England, despite his impressive record of 22 goals in 42 games for his country.

Jermain Defoe has forced his way back into the England team under Hodgson and Crouch will be hoping to be recalled for the coming World Cup qualifiers.

“Playing for my country is the best thing I have ever done but at the moment I just have to keep my head down and play well,” he said. “If that call comes then great. I’m playing and scoring goals and enjoying it. The fans have been great with me, as have the players. Long may that continue.”

Eyebrows were raised when the 31-year-old joined Stoke and Crouch initially stalled over the move to the Britannia Stadium. But he has thrived on the opportunity to play first-team football and be the Potters’ talisman has brought the best out of him.

There are not many players who have moved clubs more than Crouch, who started his career at Tottenham but was unable to break into the first team. He spent loan spells with non-League Dulwich Hamlet and Swedish club IFK Hassleholm before making a permanent switch to QPR.

Crouch scored 10 goals in his solitary season with the Hoops as they were relegated to the second tier of English football and he was on the move again in the summer of 2001 as Portsmouth paid GBP1.5 million to take him to Fratton Park. He scored 18 goals in his first season at Pompey and became a big fans’ favourite. But Crouch moved on once again as Aston Villa paid GBP5 million to sign him in March 2002.

Crouch scored on his debut but was not a regular starter at Villa and so he was loaned out to Norwich, where he contributed to the Canaries securing promotion to the top flight. Surplus to requirements at Villa, the big front-man was heading back to the south coast in the summer of 2004, signing for Pompey’s arch-rivals Southampton for GBP2.5 million.

Crouch once again excelled in a struggling side, but his 12 goals were in vain as Saints were relegated to the Championship. Another big-money move came his way once again in the summer of 2005 as Liverpool paid GBP7 million to take him to Anfield.

There was also an England call-up for Crouch, who had played for his country at under-21 level, in the summer of 2005 as he made his senior international bow on a tour of the United States.

He went on to become a regular member of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s squad and was also a consistent goal-scorer, usually after coming off the bench.

Crouch struggled initially at Liverpool, but became a popular figure as he found his feet and led the line so impressively. He played his part as the Reds beat West Ham in the FA Cup final in 2006 and they also won the Community Shield later that year.

There was disappointment for Crouch as Liverpool were beaten by AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League final and despite being top scorer in the 2006/07 campaign, he was becoming frustrated by a lack of starts at Anfield. Crouch rejoined Portsmouth in the summer of 2008, for another big fee of GBP11 million on this occasion.

He scored 11 goals in his one season back at Fratton Park but he was on the move yet again in the summer of 2007, with Spurs re-signing him for GBP10 million on a five-year deal.

Crouch thrived on playing under Harry Redknapp once again and he scored the crucial goal that secured Tottenham’s place in the UEFA Champions League for the first time. He also scored a famous goal in the San Siro as Spurs knocked out AC Milan to reach the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition.

But he was sent off against Real Madrid in the quarter-finals as Spurs crashed out and then scored an own goal against Manchester City as the London club missed out on a place in the Champions League. Crouch fell out of favour at White Hart Lane and it came as no surprise when he left the club last summer, as Stoke smashed their transfer record to pay GBP10 million to secure his services.

After so many moves during his career, Crouch finally looks at home at the Britannia Stadium and he was named the club’s Player of the Year in his first season with the Potters.

Crouch has carried on where he left off this season and it would be no surprise to see him back in an England shirt later this month.

Crouch is married to model Abbey Clancy and drives a Range Rover.

FACTFILE

NAME: Peter Crouch POSITION: Striker CLUB: Stoke DOB: 30/01/81 INTERNATIONAL APPEARANCES: 42 GOALS: 22 MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Scoring a hat-trick for Liverpool against Arsenal MOMENT TO FORGET: Being sent off in Tottenham’s UEFA Champions League defeat against Real Madrid

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