It’s a lot worse when there’s 400 people than when there’s 40,000 because it’s a lot more personal.
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“I went out on loan to Dulwich when I was 17 years old. It wins Goal of the Season.. “I have a few regrets about my time there but it’s still a club I think of fondly.”
HIGH ACHIEVER Peter Crouch is within 14 goals of joining the exclusive 100 club. There aren’t many people he looks up to.
But those 24 players who have reached the 100-goal mark in the Premier League can be counted among them.
1 Stoke 1 Man City 0 (24.3.12) The ball arrives at Crouch’s feet, 35 yards out. Youth team football is all very well, but it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose.
“I remember being at Aston Villa when Dion Dublin scored his 100th goal in the Premier League and how pleased he was.
2 Liverpool 3 Galatasaray 2 (27.9.06) Steve Finnan’s cross from the right looked routine until Crouch’s spectacular scissors kick in this Champions League clash.
“Ever since then, I thought to myself: ‘You know, that’s a target you can aim for.’ It would be a great achievement for me.
Milestones “I have been lucky enough to enjoy a good career and you reach a certain age and, if you keep going, then these milestones can come around.
“And it’s something I’d like to reach. It’s a landmark.
The former England international needs 14 more to gain admittance to that exclusive club and take his place alongside some of the greatest players the top flight has ever seen.
“Especially me. So I worked at it.
By then, O’Leary was the manager. I thought to myself: ‘Unless you start toughening up you’re just going to fall by the wayside.’ I had to address that and, going to play in the Ryman Premier League – going to away grounds – you do get some stick.
There is a reason why people like Peter Crouch. Manager Mark Hughes has paid tribute to the professionals left behind by former boss Tony Pulis, although the former Wales boss himself deserves credit for hauling the Potters within view of a top-10 finish.
“I am not knocking football at that level. I went down there and just got battered by centre-halves. Physically I wasn’t ready for it.
“Being a striker, if you study that list, there are 24 players and the top 10 well…they are legends of the game.
He was robbed of one last week when a goal-bound shot deflected off Peter Odemwingie – later being credited to his colleague – as Stoke came from behind to beat West Ham.
STRIKER PICKS HIS TOP THREE GOALS
He said: “I do know how many goals I’ve scored in the Premier League. I was only 21 years old at the time and I signed for quite a bit of money but I don’t think Villa fans ever really saw the best of me. He is honest, straightforward and grounded enough to know he is living the dream.
FORMER England striker Peter Crouch has admitted a PS5million move to Aston Villa “came too early” for him. All rights reserved.
“These new lads have a lot of talent but maybe don’t understand the English game as those of us who have been around it a lot longer. I realised I didn’t want to play there. But you either learn to survive and thrive or you don’t.”
Tribute Three points at Villa Park in this afternoon’s showpiece fixture should cement Stoke’s place in the Premier League for another season. Far from it. AND OUT
Crouch said: “I just don’t think I was ready for it. But at that age, I had so many players ahead of me at Tottenham. It’s something I’ve had to address. I wouldn’t have believed you, but I’d have taken it.
“I’d like to do it with Stoke and, if I keep fit, then I think I’ve got a chance.”
It prepared him for the knock-backs that came his way during the early days.
“Towards the end by my third year I was ready, but I wasn’t getting the chances.
3 Liverpool 4 Arsenal 1 (31.3.07) Crouch completes a hattrick with a lovely first-touch, flick through his own legs and a finish to confirm an emphatic victory.
PETER CROUCH stands six feet seven inches tall. All the people on that list are players I’ve looked up to.
“If two blokes are on the side having a pop at you and you can hear them, it hits you like a bucket of cold water. The manager, the players, they want to win. He flicks it up and smashes it past Joe Hart on the volley. He puts much of his success down to his willingness to go out on loan. That was the best thing I ever did and it was the making of me.
“You need to get out there and play where it matters to people. It’s a proper environment. You get used to the football environment, which is harsh. Inset: with model wife Abbey Clancy
But it is often overlooked that the striker, whose frame has made him an obvious and unnecessary target at times, decided himself to go out on loan when he was younger.
Graham Taylor decided to build his new-look Villa team around the target-man back in 2002 but the plan went awry.
And I am not just talking life with his model wife, Abbey Clancy, either.
There will be those outside north Staffordshire who won’t view that with much fondness. But Stoke’s training facilities are first-class, they have stable ownership and boast a manager and group of players who know their way around.
Copyright 2014 Gale, Cengage Learning. It’s 86, isn’t it? “It’s something I’m aware of. You’re part of an exclusive club.
PETER … He said: “One of the reasons why I think I came through was because I was prepared to leave my comfort zone and go out on loan. As he prepared to face his former club this afternoon, the striker came clean about his two-year stay at Villa Park.
“I felt that, technically, I had the ability to succeed at Spurs where I was a trainee. It woke me up. But it’s a good blend.”
Taylor’s revolution ended after just one season, leaving Crouch in limbo under new boss David O’Leary.
And with the clock ticking – and just another year left on his Premier League contract with the Potters – Crouch, 33, knows that time is running out if he is to hit his target.
Crouch said: “We have good experience, but there are a few new additions who maybe don’t know the Premier League as well as we do.
“If you’d told me when I was a kid at Spurs that I would have it in my sights, had played in World Cups and won just under 50 caps for England, I’d have taken it, no question. I needed firstteam experience.
“Alan Shearer’s up there with 260, isn’t he? Andy Cole, Thierry Henry, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler…when you get to 100 Premier League goals it’s something that can’t be taken away from you. I’m an easy target
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