No slouch this Crouch

Peter Crouch is now being tipped to join an elite club of players to have scored a century of goals in the English Premier League, despite having been somewhat of a journeyman during his career. By Sam Walker.

Peter Crouch may not look like the average footballer but after more than a decade at the highest level, he has certainly proved that there is more to him than just his height. His long limbs give Crouch an appearance more in keeping with basketball than football but many pundits have suggested he “has a good touch for a big man.”

And despite turning 33 recently, the goals continue to flow for the Stoke striker, who has netted against the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool this season.

He is now being tipped to join an elite club of players to have scored a century of goals in the English Premier League, despite having been somewhat of a journeyman during his career.

Crouch is now at his eighth club but has been a relative success wherever he has been, even when representing England having made his international debut in 2005.

Born in Macclesfield, Crouch spent some of his early years in Singapore before returning to England to live in Ealing where he became a fan of one of his future clubs, Queens Park Rangers.

He was in Tottenham’s youth set-up but failed to make the grade after loan spells in non-league football and Sweden before joining QPR in 2000, stating he was “just hoping to be involved in and around the squad.”

He soon made an impact and made 46 appearances for the club, scoring 12 goals, before relegation to the third tier of English football prompted his sale.

Portsmouth paid GBP1.5million for his services and Crouch really made a name for himself, averaging a goal every other game at Fratton Park and earning a move to the EPL with Aston Villa.

The step up proved a struggle and he dropped down a division with a loan move to Norwich before making his EPL breakthrough with Southampton, where he established himself as a first-team regular.

Unfortunately for both club and player, his 12 goals in 18 starts were not enough to save the Saints from relegation and Crouch missed the crucial final game of the season against Manchester United due to suspension.

Despite this, he received a call-up to the England squad from Sven-Goran Eriksson for a friendly against Colombia and while Southampton prepared for life outside the EPL, Liverpool came to Crouch’s rescue by paying GBP7million to take him to Anfield in the summer of 2005.

Crouch initially struggled at Liverpool, failing to score until bagging a brace against Wigan Athletic in December, but played his part in England qualifying for the 2006 World Cup.

He then scored his first career hat-trick during the pre-tournament friendly against Jamaica and his ‘Robot’ dance celebration became his trademark, resulting in his picture being splashed across both the front and back pages of national newspapers.

Crouch played four games at the World Cup, scoring against Trinidad & Tobago, before returning to Liverpool and gradually becoming a more important member of the squad.

He scored a ‘perfect hat-trick’ against Arsenal in March 2007 and featured in the run to the 2007 UEFA Champions League final where Liverpool lost 2-1 to AC Milan, ending the season as the club’s top scorer with 18 goals.

In total he netted 42 goals in three seasons at Anfield before returning to Portsmouth for GBP9 million in the summer of 2008, although 12 months later he was on the move again as he went back to Tottenham for the same fee and was reunited with his former Southampton boss Harry Redknapp.

Crouch played a pivotal role in Tottenham’s fourth-place finish in the EPL, which meant qualification to the UEFA Champions League for the first time, and scored the winner in the crucial last game of the season against Manchester City.

A second appearance at the World Cup finals followed in the summer of 2010 and he spent two years at White Hart Lane before making the most recent move of his career by joining Stoke in August 2011.

That transfer took the total fees paid for the forward to around GBP42million and while he has struggled to stay at one club for a lengthy period, he has always been in demand.

He was Stoke’s player of the year last season and manager Mark Hughes sees no reason why he cannot score the extra 14 goals needed to reach three figures, saying: “I would think he can. He’s playing exceptionally well at the moment. He’s an experienced player and 86 Premier League goals takes some doing. That shows the quality of striker Peter is.”

FACTFILE NAME: Peter Crouch POSITION: Striker CLUB: Stoke City DOB: 30/1/81 INTERNATIONAL CAPS: 42 INTERNATIONAL GOALS: 22

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Scoring his first career hat-trick against Jamaica for England in 2006.

MOMENT TO FORGET: Being sent off for Southampton at Crystal Palace in May 2005 and missing the final game in which Saints were relegated.

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