Welcome back to Last Word on Football’s ‘Returning Players’ series. In this edition, we take a look at the well-travelled Peter Crouch.
Crouch turned out for several football clubs during his career. Unsurprisingly, he did return to former sides on more than one occasion. Crouch spent time in the Brentford, Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur academy. He would breakthrough at Spurs in 1998 but didn’t make a senior appearance for them.
His debut in the English Football League came at QPR but he did eventually return to Spurs later in his career. As well as two spells at QPR and Tottenham, Crouch also had two separate spells at Portsmouth.
Returning Players – Peter Crouch
Career Breakthrough at Former Club QPR and First Spell at Portsmouth
Crouch was well-travelled in his youth career but he eventually broke through at Tottenham in 1998. However, he didn’t make a senior appearance for Spurs and was loaned out to Dulwich Hamlet and Swedish side IFK Hasselholm.
He eventually left Spurs in 2000 to re-join Queens Park Rangers. Crouch spent one year in the QPR academy between 1994 and 1995. However, it was a difficult year for the club on and off the pitch. Despite chipping in with ten league goals, Crouch couldn’t prevent QPR from sliding into the second division.
QPR were experiencing severe financial issues which culminated in their relegation. Despite his club’s demise, it was a successful season on a personal level for Crouch who scored 12 times in 47 matches.
Due to their frailty of QPR’s finances, Crouch left Loftus Road in 2001 to join Portsmouth for £1.5 million. Again, like his season at QPR, it was successful on a personal level with Crouch scoring 19 times in 39 games.
Crouch’s excellent goalscoring record would eventually catch the attention of Graham Taylor at Aston Villa. He eventually joined Villa in March 2002 for £5 million. After Crouch’s departure, Portsmouth would go on to finish 17th in the First Division without Crouch’s influence.
Peter Crouch Endured a Disappointing Spell at Aston Villa but Rebuilt His Career at Southampton and Liverpool
Despite the promise when he arrived, Crouch’s move to the West Midlands just didn’t work out. Crouch scored just six times for Villa and would go on to make just 34 appearances. Graham Taylor couldn’t get the best out of him and Crouch eventually had a short loan spell at Norwich City during the 2002/03 season. He made 15 appearances for the Canaries, scoring four times. Unbeknown to him, those goals would help the Canaries secure promotion to the Premiership.
Crouch left Aston Villa in 2004 to join Southampton. Initially down the pecking order, Crouch was reinvigorated when Harry Redknapp took over as Saints manager. Despite an impressive record of 16 goals in 33 games, Crouch couldn’t prevent Southampton’s relegation to the second tier in 2005.
That impressive record attracted Liverpool’s attention and he would eventually join the Reds before the start of the 2005/06 season. His Liverpool career started quite slowly with Crouch failing to score in any of his first 18 appearances for the club. However, he would eventually break his duck and go on to score 42 times in 134 games.
Crouch enjoyed three successful seasons at Anfield which included silverware. He was part of the 2006 FA Cup-winning team dubbed ‘The Gerrard Final’ and the consequent community shield victors. Crouch also tasted Champions League football for the first time in his career and he was part of the Liverpool team which lost the 2007 Champions League final to AC Milan.
Return to Portsmouth and Tottenham
Following his successful spell at Liverpool, Crouch returned to Portsmouth in 2008. His second spell at Fratton Park lasted just one season but he was reunited with Harry Redknapp.
The second coming was hugely different from his first. He had joined a Portsmouth side fresh off a stunning FA Cup triumph and gearing up for a season in which Pompey would play European football. However, it was a turbulent season with three different managers taking the hot-seat at Fratton Park. Portsmouth were knocked out of the UEFA Cup at the group stage and would eventually finish 14th in the Premier League.
Crouch scored 16 times in 49 matches to become Portsmouth’s top scorer for the 2008/09 season. He left Fratton Park at the end of the season to re-join Tottenham and play under Harry Redknapp for a third time.
Peter Crouch Made a Telling Contribution in His Second Spell at Tottenham
Crouch returned to Spurs in 2009 for a cool £10 million. His two years back at the club where he broke through into senior football were significant. The impact he made will never be forgotten by any Tottenham fan.
Crouch scored the vital goal against Manchester City which secured Tottenham a top-four finish and a chance at Champions League football. Spurs would see off the challenge of City to finish fourth at the end of the 2009/10 season.
The big striker then asserted himself further by scoring a hat-trick against Swiss side Young Boys in the Champions League play-offs, which secured Tottenham a place in the group stages of the competition. Spurs progressed well in the Champions League with Crouch making another significant contribution. Spurs faced AC Milan in the knockout stages of the competition and Crouch scored the only goal across the two legs to book Spurs a quarter-final place.
They were eventually knocked out by Real Madrid but it was a memorable season for Spurs and Crouch in particular. Just one year after scoring against Manchester City to secure Spurs a top-four finish, he scored an own goal against the same opponents which meant Spurs finished fifth and City secured a top-four place.
Crouch played a huge role in Tottenham’s terrific adventure under Harry Redknapp. His goals were crucial in securing Spurs progress on the European stage. Crouch’s second spell saw him score 24 goals in 92 matches before eventually joining Stoke City in 2011, becoming the Potters’ record signing.
The big striker may not have suited every side but he will forever be a fans favourite at Spurs for his telling contributions at the club in which Crouch broke into football with. While his first spell was forgettable, his second was firmly memorable.