Not many players can play for two rival teams and come away with not just respect but affection from both sets of supporters. However, in playing for both Southampton and Portsmouth Peter Crouch did just this. The 6 foot 7 striker in fact gained the appreciation of a whole host of Premier League clubs, also plying his trade for Aston Villa, Liverpool, Tottenham, Stoke and, for a brief spell, Burnley in England’s top flight.
Crouch’s frame was misleading and he was “good feet for a big man” personified with his technical ability far greater than he was given credit for due to his gangly frame. He scored 108 Premier League goals and got 58 assists in 468 appearances. He holds the record for the most headed goals in Premier League history and was the Champions League top scorer in Liverpool’s run to the final in the 2006/07 season. The big man can also boast an impressive international goal tally, scoring 22 times in 42 appearances for England, a rate of better than a goal every other game.
Crouch was a hit with football fans due to his down to earth nature and he always had a good rapport with both his club’s fans and rival fans. His infamous robot celebration epitomised this and his response of “a virgin” when asked what he’d be if he wasn’t a footballer in an interview has gone down in football folklore.
He eventually retired in 2019 after a six month spell at Burnley where he failed to feature much and didn’t manage to find the net. He was 38 at the time and has since said he felt that he could have kept going but was wary of becoming a ‘plan B’ for teams who would throw him on to win headers when chasing a game. His ability was far too great to resort to being simply a player that the ball gets lumped up to. The cruel irony of this is that for much of his career he was a ‘plan B’ with Liverpool and England never really trusting him to be their main striker even when he was scoring for fun in the peak of his career. His frame may have hindered his perception by many fans, and having a 6 foot 7 striker may appear unglamorous, but his goals and contribution to his numerous clubs, as well as never taking himself too seriously, earned him affection from English football fans.