An ode to Peter Crouch: A down to earth cult hero who's still got plenty to offer

Stoke City have signed him up for an extra year

BY Raf Diallo 18:32 Monday 9 January 2017, 18:32 9 Jan 2017

Stoke City's Peter Crouch celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match at the Bet365 Stadium, Stoke. Picture by Mike Egerton PA Wire/PA Images

For Stoke City's Peter Crouch and other footballers, they are often on the end of set questions.

For example, one of them would be "What would you be if you weren’t a footballer?"

But it was Crouch's self-deprecating response to that question that once won him top spot in a vote of one liners.

He simply said "a virgin" which was is pretty much as self-deprecating as he could get.

At 35, the famously lanky forward is still going strong and in a sign of the value he still has under Mark Hughes at Stoke, he has signed a one year deal with the club that he will keep him at the Britannia Stadium until the summer of 2018.

The last two Premier League fixtures have served notice as to what he can still manage even in his mid-30s. After scoring his first goal of the league season against what had become a virtually impenetrable Chelsea defence on December 31st, the ex-Liverpool and Tottenham striker then added another two days later at home to Watford.

He has never been particularly prolific at club level, albeit his numbers have tended to be very healthy.

It's at international level where he has an intriguingly excellent goals record of 22 in 42 caps for England.

One of them was memorably cheeky at the 2006 World Cup when he headed in the opening goal for his country as they laboured in a group stage match against Trinidad and Tobago.

Although Crouch stands at 6 foot 7, he still needed to pull at marker Brett Sancho's hair to lever himself up to meet the ball.

The referee didn't spot it fortunately for Crouch. He didn't break out the robot dance either probably given the importance of the game and the point at which he scored.

It was a goal celebration he had dusted off in 2006, which was a sign of his willingness to have a laugh (mostly at his own expense) and how he doesn't take himself seriously.

Indeed, a down to earth nature is something that is regularly remarked when Crouch is described off the field. 

"He is a fantastic kid, very down to earth," according to his former Stoke manager Tony Pulis, a refrain echoed by other players and managers.

Even though he did have to put up with cruel chants of "freak" from supporters due to his height and build, he dealt with those types of jibes with self-deprecation - hence the "virgin" quip. And he was someone who fought his way up from a loan spell in non-league and even Swedish Division 2.

In a more positive sense, the Liverpool fans referenced his height fondly with their own chant of "He's big, he's red, his feet stick out the bed, it's Peter Crouch, Peter Crouch" while he was with them.

And there was a mutual fondness apparent between supporters at Anfield and Crouch during Stoke's recent visit there. 

There was a brief moment when he made a slight error near the corner flag - cue Crouch chuckling at himself and lifting a hand to the Liverpool crowd which was received in turn with a cheer.

Arriving at Anfield after the post-Istanbul celebrations in the summer of 2005, he managed 42 goals in all competitions for the Reds as a useful forward option.

And despite, the advantages of his tall frame, he was more of the proverbial "great touch for a big man" sort of player.

For another 18 months, we're going to catch some more glimpses of that at least.

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