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Walking Tall by Peter Crouch

Release date: 05th October, 2007
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

List Price: 18.99
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"He's big, he's red, his feet stick out the bed. Peter Crouch, Peter Crouch" So sings the Kop in honour of their 6ft 7in striker whenever he finds the back of the net, although following his £7 million transfer from Southampton to Liverpool two years ago, he didn't hear that chant for some considerable time.

Crouch endured a horribly long barren spell and despite his best efforts as a link-up man and team player, he was specifically signed to score goals. When the goalscoring dam broke, however, he embarked on a prolonged run (at the time of writing, he's scored 20 league goals in 42 appearances for the Reds), although the fact that he has struggled to hold down a permanent place in the Liverpool side this term suggests that Rafa Benitez remains unconvinced when it comes to his goalscoring prowess.

Much the same could be said of Steve McClaren who hesitates to select Crouch, ignoring his prolific form in an England shirt. Astonishingly, however, the gangly striker remains the only England player ever to score ten international goals in a calendar year.

In a ghosted autobiography, one would expect subjectivity and it's here in abundance, yet Crouch is a difficult guy to dislike. He's been described, disparagingly, as a basketball player and much worse besides, but few could question his effort or willingness on the football pitch. Perhaps because he is such an obvious player, fans are more conscious of his presence, although it's fair to say he's probably a much better ball player than people give him credit for. Does this bother Crouch? Not according to the evidence presented here.

Born in Macclesfield in 1981, Crouch began his football career at non-league Dulwich Hamlet and enjoyed a productive two years as a trainee at White Hart Lane. But Spurs were more than happy to let him go to QPR for £60,000, although his time at Loftus Road was hardly the start of an ultra-smooth ride to the top. It was only when Portsmouth came in for the 20-year-old, paying QPR £1.5 million for his services, that his profile started to improve.

His goal-a-game record at Fratton Park had clubs queuing up for his signature and persuaded Aston Villa to part with £5 million just eight months after he had signed for Pompey.

Villa Park was meant to be Peter Crouch's big-time stage, but he faced an almost constant battle to ward off the doubters, a situation that was hardly helped when he was farmed out to Norwich on loan. A transfer back to the south coast for a much-reduced £2 million seemed to suit him; was he one of those players who couldn't quite cut it in the big time? His move to St Mary's seemed to confirm this, yet out of the blue, in came Rafa Benitez with a cheque for £7 million.

Peter Crouch remains an enigma. He couldn't be described as brilliant, but still manages to find himself in the right place at the right time, the hallmark of football's greatest goalscorers. He shuns celebrity, although he talks openly about his infamous robot dance, he's an on-field worker, but one who couldn't be mentioned in the same breath as Dirk Kuyt. This is hardly a revealing tale, but for the curious interested in learning more of a footballing curiosity, it's probably ideal.


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