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‘Peter Crouch was a player who was a fan, determined to extract enjoyment out of each day’

Crouch with former England and Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard, scored 22 goals in 42 games for his countryTom Fordyce is co-host of 5 Live Sport’s That Peter Crouch Podcast.Among the perplexing things that occurred at Crouchfest last month – the Liam Gallagher walk-on, the spontaneous performance of Snow’s Informer, the fact that something called Crouchfest…

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‘Peter Crouch was a player who was a fan, determined to extract enjoyment out of each day’

Crouch with former England and Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard, scored 22 goals in 42 games for his countryTom Fordyce is co-host of 5 Live Sport’s That Peter Crouch Podcast.Among the perplexing things that occurred at Crouchfest last month – the Liam Gallagher walk-on, the spontaneous performance of Snow’s Informer, the fact that something called Crouchfest was taking place at all – was something unnoticed that happened with a small inflatable football.These footballs were being booted from the stage into the crowd, in part a faux-homage to Rod Stewart’s traditional festival antics, in part because everyone involved had secretly always wanted to boot footballs into a crowd from a stage. I attempted a cross-stage lofted pass to Crouch and, being considerably outside my comfort zone, mishit it way over his head. He turned, stretched out a leg, caught it on his toes, flicked it up, juggled it with his head and then side-volleyed at a flat angle above the heads of the half-cut crowd. It was astonishing to witness. “Bloody hell”, you found yourself wanting to shout. Did you see that? And then the second thought hit you: “Oh yeah. He’s an elite footballer”. He played for England at World Cups. He scored more goals for his country than Steven Gerrard, David Beckham or Kevin Keegan. Of course he can do that.Crouch announces retirement10 things you probably didn’t know about Peter CrouchQuiz: Are you a Peter Crouch super-fan?It was easy to forget that Crouch was a footballer because he was so normal off it. It was easy to forget how good he was because his atypical stories were told with self-deprecation and a wide-eyed pleasure in being there in the first place.And he really was good. More Premier League assists than Cristiano Ronaldo or Paul Scholes, more Premier League goals than Fernando Torres or Dennis Bergkamp. A goal for England every 99 minutes, compared to Gary Lineker’s one every 136 minutes, to Michael Owen (155 minutes) or Alan Shearer (182).He announces his retirement having scored more headed goals in the Premier League than any other player in history. It is a record unlikely to be beaten, the way the game is being played, but it is also a statistic that adds to the deception about his wider abilities.He has known for a while that it is the right time. Two-minute sub cameos can only take you through so many wintersCrouch grew up wanting to be Paul Gascoigne and Gianluca Vialli and his most memorable goals had enough of both to fulfil a portion of those teenage dreams: the overhead kicks for Liverpool against Galatasaray and Bolton, the one for Portsmouth against Stoke, the ridiculous flick-up and volley in 2012 from way out on the angle for Stoke against champions-in-waiting Manchester City.Two decades close to the top of English football is quite enough to be satisfied with, two World Cups, a Champions League final. But it was less what Crouch did in football than how he did it that has left him with the reputation he has. There was the underdog part of it: crying himself to sleep as a kid because of the teasing about his height, starting his professional career to chants of, “Freak! Freak! Freak!” and “Does the circus know you’re here?” Sent out on loan by Spurs to Dulwich Hamlet, to Hassleholm in the Swedish fourth division, then discarded for £60,000.

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Archive: Crouch scores incredible volley for Stoke against Man City in 2012

Having proved himself at QPR and then Portsmouth he still struggled to fit in. He went on holiday to Ayia Napa because all young footballers went to Ayia Napa. While there he realised that he looked as ridiculous in a sleeveless top as Rio Ferdinand looked fantastic. He hated the music so much that he used to hire a scooter and go off by himself to deserted parts of the island.Even at the top, playing for Liverpool and England, hanging out with Gerrard and Beckham, he never lost his childhood love of the game. One of the pleasures of doing the podcast and books with him is that he thinks and obsesses about the daft details of football just the same as those of us who would have sliced that Crouchfest volley into our own faces.You start talking about free-kicks with him and an hour later realise that you are still talking about them and have trawled YouTube for the best and most neglected of all time. You can lose happy evenings discussing the Norwich City kit worn by Jeremy Goss or whether the post-retirement weight-gain of Jamie Pollock was more or less remarkable than the own-goal he scored for Man City. He is familiar both with Chris Waddle’s hit with Glenn Hoddle, ‘Diamond Lights’, and with Waddle’s forgotten gem with Basile Boli, ‘We’ve Got A Feeling’.It meant he could appreciate the madness of the football explosion even as he was part of it: the former team-mate of his who hired a Ferrari just so he could park it directly opposite a nightclub and lie across the bonnet with his shirt half-open; the fashion choices of Djibril Cisse, who would wear glasses that had no glass in them and plug a 1920s-style candlestick telephone into his mobile.These were the sorts of insights that didn’t seem to be coming from other elite players. The fact that former Spurs full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto would turn up for every match with a Tesco bag containing the same four luncheon items: a croissant, a hot chocolate, a full-fat Coke and a packet of crisps. That Alberto Moreno has a tattoo of chimp wearing glasses and Beats By Dre headphones and holding a gun.Crouch has not been immune to the distractions of his profession. He has inadvertently paid £250 for a haircut and £800 for a jumper that he wore once.He still talks about these excesses as if he were one of us rather than one of them. There are not many England strikers who have dressed up as a chicken and had their feathers trimmed at the Brighton branch of Toni and Guy, or got stuck into a game of Play Your Cards Right with Dev from Coronation Street on a Euston-bound train out of Stockport. There are anecdotes about Mickey Rourke and Madonna that are still to come to wider notice. The Rourke one might be the best of all.Retirement will be hard for Crouch because he will miss all the fun and companionship football brought him. He has known too for a while that it is the right time. Two-minute sub cameos can only take you through so many winters.Through it all, from his debut for QPR in September 2000 to his final game for Burnley in May this year, he never forgot that he was lucky to be doing what he was doing. He started as a distinctive footballer and he ended the same way. A player who was a fan who was determined to extract enjoyment out of each day doing what he loved.Listen back to all the episodes of That Peter Crouch Podcast.

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Peter Crouch reveals the demands expected at Liverpool training.

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Saturday’s gossip column

Manchester United have agreed terms with Porto full-back Alex Telles and the 27-year-old Brazil international could now sign a five-year deal. (RMC Sport – via Mirror)external-linkSections of the Real Madrid dressing room are said to be relieved that Wales forward Gareth Bale has made a loan move to Tottenham. (AS – in Spanish)external-linkRennes want Chelsea…

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Saturday’s gossip column

Manchester United have agreed terms with Porto full-back Alex Telles and the 27-year-old Brazil international could now sign a five-year deal. (RMC Sport – via Mirror)external-linkSections of the Real Madrid dressing room are said to be relieved that Wales forward Gareth Bale has made a loan move to Tottenham. (AS – in Spanish)external-linkRennes want Chelsea to include two players in any deal for Senegal international goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, 28. England defender Fikayo Tomori, 22, is one of those the French club want. (Football Insider)external-linkLiverpool have asked about a possible loan deal for France and Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele, 23. (Sport)external-linkSheffield United manager Chris Wilder says the club have held talks with Liverpool over a loan move for English striker Rhian Brewster, 20. (Yorkshire Live)external-linkBut Crystal Palace also want to sign Brewster from the champions on a permanent deal. (90Min)external-linkManchester City are considering a deal for Sevilla’s French centre-back Jules Kounde, 21. The move could see Argentina international Nicolas Otamendi, 32, move in the opposite direction. (Telegraph)external-linkCrystal Palace’s potential sale of 24-year-old Norway international striker Alexander Sorloth to RB Leipzig will fund a move for Brentford’s Algeria international forward Said Benrahma, 25. (Guardian)external-linkAny move away from Southampton for striker Danny Ings, 28, is “100% not discussable” according to manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. (Daily Echo)external-linkLeeds are still keen on signing Argentina international midfielder Rodrigo de Paul, 26, from Udinese. (Fabrizio Romano)external-linkAmerican defender DeAndre Yedlin, 27, looks set to leave Newcastle for Besiktas. (NBC)external-linkArsenal, Leeds and Wolves are all keen on 18-year-old Reading midfielder Michael Olise. (Football League World)external-linkAston Villa remain poised to sign 25-year-old Burkina Faso winger Bertrand Traore from Lyon. (Sky Sports)external-linkGossip: Could Odsonne Edouard join Jack Grealish at Aston Villa?Newcastle are close to signing Peru playmaker Rodrigo Vilca, 21, from Deportivo Municipal. (Mail)external-linkBurnley manager Sean Dyche has described the club’s way of working in the transfer market as “last minute” and “tricky”. (Mail)external-linkFormer Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says it’s “a dream” of his to coach Real Madrid. (Cadena Cope Radio – via ESPN)external-linkLeicester manager Brendan Rodgers says winger Demarai Gray has a decision to make over his future and that the 24-year-old will ultimately decide when he leaves the club. (Leicester Mercury)external-linkLyon could offer 26-year-old Dutch forward Memphis Depay to AC Milan in a swap deal which would see the French club sign 23-year-old Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta. (Di Marzio – in Italian)external-link The Guardian and most other papers lead on Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham Extinction: The Facts: Sir David Attenborough on biodiversity crisisBattlestar Galactica: Binge all episodes of sci-fi classic
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Friday’s gossip column

Liverpool have enquired about Ismaila Sarr and discussed his situation with Watford, who want £36m for the 22-year-old Senegal striker. (Mail) external-linkSarr has been identified by Manchester United as an alternative option if their move for Borussia Dortmund and England winger Jadon Sancho fails. (Independent)external-linkManchester United are considering moves for Inter Milan’s Croatia winger Ivan…

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Friday’s gossip column

Liverpool have enquired about Ismaila Sarr and discussed his situation with Watford, who want £36m for the 22-year-old Senegal striker. (Mail) external-linkSarr has been identified by Manchester United as an alternative option if their move for Borussia Dortmund and England winger Jadon Sancho fails. (Independent)external-linkManchester United are considering moves for Inter Milan’s Croatia winger Ivan Perisic, 31, Bayern Munich’s France winger Kingsley Coman, 24, and 30-year-old Brazil winger Douglas Costa from Juventus. (ESPN)external-linkManchester United are also targeting Germany midfielder Sami Khedira, 33, when his contract expires at Juventus. (Sun)external-linkA deal has been agreed for 28-year-old Rennes and Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to join Chelsea, says his agent. (Stades via Star)external-linkGossip: Could Odsonne Edouard join Jack Grealish at Aston Villa?Chelsea are set to bid for West Ham’s England midfielder Declan Rice, 21, as the final act of their summer spending. (Simon Phillips via Express) external-linkA Manchester United bid for Porto’s 27-year-old Brazilian defender Alex Telles is imminent, according to his agent. (Star)external-linkBrentford have rejected a bid of about £10m from Arsenal for 25-year-old Spanish goalkeeper David Raya. (Telegraph)external-linkSouthampton have told Tottenham that striker Danny Ings, 28, is not for sale at any price. (Mail)external-linkLeicester City are closing in on the loan signing of 23-year-old Turkey striker Cengiz Under from Roma, while Burnley’s England defender James Tarkowski, 27, is still a target for Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers. (Sky Sports)external-linkWest Ham have changed the structure of their latest bid for Tarkowski but the offer has still been declined by Burnley. (Sky Sports)external-linkWest Brom are trying to sign Aston Villa’s 27-year-old Tanzania striker Mbwana Samatta before he completes a move to Fenerbahce. (Sun)external-linkEnglish former Liverpool defender and free agent Nathaniel Clyne, 29, is training with Crystal Palace and could earn a contract. (Standard)external-linkEdin Dzeko is set to join Juventus from Roma on a two-year deal. The 34-year-old Bosnia and Herzegovina striker’s move will mean Luis Suarez’s hopes of a move from Barcelona to the Serie A champions will likely end. (Goal)external-linkArsenal have agreed personal terms with Lyon’s 22-year-old French midfielder Houssem Aouar. (Star)external-linkTottenham and England midfielder Dele Alli, 24, has emerged as a target for Paris St-Germain and Inter Milan. (Mail)external-linkSerbia striker Luka Jovic, 22, is keen to leave Real Madrid. (Marca)external-linkGenoa have reached an agreement with Chelsea to sign 28-year-old right-back Davide Zappacosta on loan. (DiMarzio – Twitter)external-linkJuventus have confirmed Gonzalo Higuain’s departure. The 32-year-old Argentina striker is expected to sign for MLS club Inter Miami. (Goal)external-link Gareth Bale’s move to Tottenham features on several back pages Extinction: The Facts: Sir David Attenborough on biodiversity crisisBattlestar Galactica: Binge all episodes of sci-fi classic
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Barca president set to face referendum

Lionel Messi (right) has had a public falling out with Bartomeu (left)Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is set to face a vote of no-confidence after a campaign seeking his removal gained the necessary backing.A motion to remove Bartomeu was filed the day after Messi’s transfer request.A total of 20,731 signatures have now backed the motion,…

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Barca president set to face referendum

Lionel Messi (right) has had a public falling out with Bartomeu (left)Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is set to face a vote of no-confidence after a campaign seeking his removal gained the necessary backing.A motion to remove Bartomeu was filed the day after Messi’s transfer request.A total of 20,731 signatures have now backed the motion, meaning Bartomeu should face a vote over his position.Some 16,500 signatures were needed and as long as that number is cleared when the signed documents are verified, 57-year-old Bartomeu will be the subject of a referendum within three months.The potential referendum will be undertaken by the club’s 150,000 members and if 66.5% of them vote against him his time at the club will come to a premature end.Bartomeu is due to step down in March, having served the maximum two terms as club president.But he looks set to become only the third president to face a vote of no-confidence after Josep Lluis Nunez in 1998 and Joan Laporta in 2008, though both survived the subsequent referendums.Messi has agreed to stay at the club but resentment against Bartomeu has been growing in the past year due to worsening finances and the team’s decline on the pitch, which saw them lift no major silverware last season.Meanwhile, former manager Quique Setien and three of his assistants also announced on Thursday that they are suing the club for failing to fulfil the terms of their contracts after being sacked last month.They claim they only received written notice of their contracts being terminated on 16 September, despite his sacking taking place on 17 August. Setien said he had not received any compensation and that a letter sent to him by the club on Wednesday “revealed the clear intention from the club to not comply with contracts we signed on 14 January 2020.”
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