Peter Crouch: an everyman appeal to go with his exceptional ability

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CROUCH END

Of all the English language’s most welcome word pairings – including “cut price”, “extra strength” and “insufficient evidence” – the one most likely to raise a smile among football folks might just be “Peter Crouch”. So tears welled in more than a few bleary eyes when dear ol’ Crouchie announced that, at the age of 76, he has decided to call time on a playing career that spanned more than two decades, 11 clubs, 42 England caps and 7,435 urgent phone calls from ‘Arry Redknapp.

“After a lot of deliberation this summer I have decided to retire from football!” declared Crouch on Social Media Atrocity Twitter, adding: “If you told me at 17 I’d play in World Cups, get to a [Big Cup] final, win the FA Cup and get 100 Premier League goals, I would have avoided you at all costs.” But that’s the thing about Crouch: he confounded expectations from the start. He turned out to be the gawky-looking striker with a velvet touch, the beanpole who had a sideline in bicycle kicks, the giant who could only outjump a Trinidad & Tobago defender by pulling his hair. Most endearingly of all, the so-called “freak” had an everyman appeal to go with his exceptional ability.

Ultimately, Crouch made the people who ridiculed him look silly without ever taking himself too seriously. He became a style icon and a dance master. He even produced one of the greatest quotes ever given by a self-deprecating sportsman when, asked what he would have been were he not a footballer, he replied famously, deadpan as you like: “The Fiver.”

“This former footballer has had the time of his life, it’s time to write the next chapters,” he concluded, leaving us to speculate as to what he might go on to do. He is already active in the media and it is easy to envisage him becoming another of those pleasant pundits who combines knowledge with wit, a Lanky Ally McCoist, a Blonde Ian Wright, Not Danny Mills. But it is also simple to imagine him presenting a range of programmes that have nothing to with football, becoming a sort of Likable Jeremy Clarkson, a Drinking Man’s Louis Theroux, Not Danny Mills. Then again, maybe he will eschew all work and while away his days watching TV, a happy Crouch Potato. Whatever, ol’ Crouchie has the world at his feet, which is right where he needs it because, yes, he has a good touch for a big man.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Roy went on: ‘One week I look at you and you’re controlling the game, the next week I can’t find you on the pitch, but it’s OK because I don’t blame you, I blame your parents for the way they brought you up.’ It depends how the lad takes it but everyone is different. The last lad he went to, [he said]: ‘Do you want to be a footballer, or do you want to collect p1ss for a living like that fella?’ And all you see is the drug tester in the corner and the poor fella didn’t know what was going on” – former Ipswich keeper Brian Murphy offers a little insight into Roy Keane’s renowned man-management skills.

Underwhelming views of drug testers, earlier.
Underwhelming views of drug testers, earlier. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

FIVER LETTERS

“Good to see Jonathan Wilson on the lineup for Latitude. Can the revellers expect some red-hot Afcon chat before Primal Scream take to the stage, or an in-depth look at tactics in the Colombian second division from 1982? I, for one, cannot wait to find out” – Tim Woods.

“Going to keep this brief but how can you be an ‘ex-Notts County’ fan (yesterday’s letters)? You’re either a fan or you’re not – it’s neither negotiable nor optional. So sayeth the Morton fan” – Alistair Moffat.

“Re: yesterday’s Fiver letters. On the subject of Guy Robert’s Fiver appearing in his ‘Promotion’ folder: it used to crop up in mine, too, until I set up my email inbox in such a way that it would be automatically diverted into my own bespoke ‘Relegation’ folder, and suddenly all seemed right with the world again” – DH Cauthery (and 1,056 others).

“I strongly object to the inclusion of Matt Richman’s missive (yesterday’s Fiver letters). I do not come here for heartwarming and earnest stories bereft of snark, cynicism, overreaching puns and humour (although maybe the last one was in another daily email I read). What’s next? Belting out the national anthem in an unashamed and unironic way? Po-faced discussions on the merits of VAR? Dancing when sober? Sharing feelings? I should jolly well hope not. I’m willing to let this one letter slip, but let’s stop the rot right here” – Simon Dunsby.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Tim Woods. Prizes back from Monday, though!

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

A member of Manchester United’s backroom team has been taken to hospital after falling ill on the tour of Australia before the club’s pre-season friendly against Perth Glory.

Antoine Griezmann is a Barcelona player after the Catalans dug out €120m from the back of their sofa and at least had the good grace not to announce it via the medium of dismal TV special.

Thank goodness that’s over.
Thank goodness that’s over. Photograph: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

Sound the “Transfer Hijack” klaxon!

The next striker West Ham will presumably miss out on is Eintracht Frankfurt’s Sébastien Haller, despite a potential £40m deal in the offing.

2017’s Rhian Brewster had Jürgen Klopp cooing like a hungry pigeon after scoring twice during Liverpool’s 6-0 demolition of Tranmere. “Oh, he is so good, he scored two! I saw a really good game and Rhian is a fantastic player, that is the only thing I want to talk about,” he drooled.

Aston Villa have agreed a £15m deal with Manchester City for Brazil U-23 captain Douglas Luiz, who has been on loan at the club’s Spanish branch, Girona, for the past two seasons.

WSL newcomers Manchester United have snapped up England goalkeeper Mary Earps from Wolfsburg.

“We appeared to have crashed [Social Media Atrocity] Twitter last night, so it only seems right that we remind you just how we did it. In case you missed it, [Stanley] beat [Marseille] 2-1 at the AJ Bell Stadium” – Accrington bathe in the warm glow of winning the kind of ludicrous pre-season friendly The Fiver could only previously imagine happening in Championship Manager 93/94 – and just look how happy Luiz Gustavo was to be turning up in north-west England!

And because football’s ridiculous, Dundee United face Hearts in the Scottish Fizzy Cup later on Friday night.

STILL WANT MORE?

Juninho spills the beans about his love of, erm, beans and why he wishes he’d never left England.

Sweden’s Kosovare Asllani chews the fat with Suzanne Wrack about being well chuffed to have won bronze and how her country went crazy for the World Cup.

Kosovare Asllani there.
Kosovare Asllani there. Photograph: PR Company Handout

Clubs in the top five European leagues have splashed out 2.76 billion big ones in 805 deals. How do we know this? Because it’s all here in our snazzy transfer window interactive!

Is Dani Alves off for a steamy reunion with Pep at Manchester City? Find out in our long-running transfer-related soap-opera, The Rumour Mill.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

PREPARING TO SPEND A DAY WITH OUR NERVOUS WILLOW-WIELDING, ROLL-UP SMOKING, BITTER-DRINKING COUSIN