By Andrew Winner
The most skillful tall player who ever played the game of soccer. That’s Peter Crouch. Recently, rumors have been circulating on the Internets that Peter Crouch may be headed away from Anfield during the winter transfer window. Among others, Manchester City has been reported to have interest in the 6-foot-7 striker. Perhaps the wheels are already in motion – word comes that he’s been excluded from the 2008 Liverpool calendar.
As a Liverpool supporter, this news sent chills down my spine as I write this. How Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez could even think about giving away such quality is beyond me. (In the interests of full disclosure, The Talisman hereby admits that Peter Crouch is his favorite player.)
Furthermore, I believe he is horribly underrated for both club and country, and has been overlooked because of the same trait that made him notable – his amazing lankiness.
In support of this view, I wrote his friend Marco, who happens to be the biggest Liverpool supporter in Switzerland, and asked him to unload his thoughts on Crouchinho. He gladly obliged, and the Talisman will now quote his letter at length.
I am glad to relate to you my feelings for that lanky boy whom we call Peter Crouch. It is especially a pleasure to do so on a cold Monday morning, when that glow in my heart which Crouchie evokes is most needed.
Mind you, that was all a bit different when he first joined Liverpool in the glorious summer of 2005. Up until then he was sort of a mercenary freak, playing for a host of clubs in England without ever hitting the big time. Of course, everyone was pretty much aware of him due to his amazing height – I guess that is where the adverbial nick of his – The Lanky One – comes from…
It is fair to say then that when the first rumors of Rafa being interested in signing Crouch appeared in the press, I could not really believe it and I think most Liverpool fans had a laugh about it. When it finally materialized though, I was quite astonished but frankly never believed that he could cut the mustard for us, and I was certainly not the only one. There was just the sentiment that he would not be good enough for us and his lankiness just contributed to the ridicule.
Rafa, though, always knew exactly what he wanted from Crouch and what Crouchie could contribute. So when the 2005/06 season started obviously all eyes were on Crouch. And really, he got off to the worst possible start. He had a massive goal drought which stretched into the month of November.
A funny thing happened though, I do believe that it is exactly this initial drought which endeared him so much to every Liverpool fan. Of course, he was an easy target for the national press who were drooling over his scoreless streak and deliciously stating with every game that passed how long the drought now lasted – it was a feast for the yellow press indeed. But for me he was our Crouch now.
Eventually, Crouch broke the streak and notched a brace against Wigan on December 3. He went on to play a crucial role in Liverpool’s FA Cup triumph that season, knocking out Manchester United with a goal in the 5th round and setting up Steven Gerrard for the winner against West Ham in the final.
Encouraged by his success with the Reds, even England has turned to their beanpole when in need of a crucial goal.
How often do we hear the English cry out for lack of a quality striker? With Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney injured as they so often are, the Three Lions turned to Crouch for a critical goal in their ill-fated match against Croatia. And Two-Meter Peter delivered, expertly controlling and finishing David Beckham’s cross with the nerves of a cat burglar.
What I can’t understand is why he’s still considered an afterthought – clearly he shows again and again he can produce in big games. I run it over and over in my mind and it comes back to what I mentioned before – he is discounted out-of-hand due to his appearance.
His tireless energy, his knockdowns to teammates, his ability to hold the ball up top while support arrives – he excels in each of these areas despite of his height. How he does this we might never know, but what matters is he’s successful.
For my money, Liverpool will be unbeatable once the rotation-crazy Rafa begins to pair Fernando Torres with Crouch consistently. We saw what they could do in the demolition of Bolton Wanderers. That would be my first-choice pairing for next Tuesday’s critical clash with Marseilles in the Champions League.
Perhaps we know why Croatia started so free and easy in their game against England – it appears the man who sang the Croatian national anthem made an appallingly hilarious gaffe.
Also, Ives Galcarep’s blog Soccer By Ives continues to impress – I recommend it to all fans of the beautiful game.
I don’t know enough about the England managerial situation to make an informed decision, but for entertainment’s sake, I hope they go with Jose Mourinho. Having a quotable personality like that as the gaffer will be great for fans of the game, and as it happens The Special One has had a fair amount of success as a manager. His best attribute – his ability to keep a group of overpaid lads motivated and focused – has obvious benefits at the national level.
Andrew Winner is a freelance soccer writer based in Seattle, Washington. He can be reached at: email@example.com
Watch Crouch in Action: