Welcome back to Last Word’s Returning Players series from Football. In this issue we take a look at the well-traveled Peter Crouch.

Crouch worked for several football clubs during his career. Unsurprisingly, he returned to previous pages more than once. Crouch spent some time in the Brentford, Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur academies. He would break through at Spurs in 1998 but didn’t make a senior appearance for them.

He made his English Football League debut with QPR, but returned to Spurs later in his career. In addition to two spells at QPR and Tottenham, Crouch also had two separate spells in Portsmouth.

Returning players – Peter Crouch

Career breakthrough at Former Club QPR and First Spell in Portsmouth

Crouch had traveled extensively in his youth career but he eventually broke through at Tottenham in 1998. However, he did not appear as a senior for Spurs and was loaned to Dulwich Hamlet and the Swedish club IFK Hasselholm.

He eventually left Spurs in 2000 to rejoin the Queens Park Rangers. Crouch spent a year in the QPR Academy between 1994 and 1995. However, it was a difficult year for the club on and off the pitch. Despite having scored ten league goals, Crouch couldn’t stop QPR from sliding into the second division.

QPR had severe financial problems that culminated in their decline. Despite his club’s demise, it was a successful season on a personal level for Crouch, who scored twelve goals in 47 games.

Due to QPR’s weak financial position, Crouch left Loftus Road in 2001 to join Portsmouth for £ 1.5million. Again, as in his season at QPR, it was successful on a personal level: Crouch scored 19 goals in 39 games.

Crouch’s excellent goal record would eventually catch the attention of Graham Taylor at the Aston Villa. He finally joined Villa in March 2002 for £ 5 million. After Crouch’s departure, Portsmouth would occupy 17th place in the First Division without Crouch’s influence.

Peter Crouch experienced a disappointing spell at Aston Villa but rebuilt his career in Southampton and Liverpool

Despite the promise when he arrived, Crouch’s move to the West Midlands just didn’t work out. Crouch scored only six times for Villa and only played 34 games. Graham Taylor failed to get the best out of him and Crouch had a brief loan stint at Norwich City in the 2002–03 season. He made 15 appearances for the Canaries and scored four goals. Unknown, these goals would help the Canaries secure promotion to the Premier League.

Crouch left Aston Villa in 2004 to join Southampton. Crouch was initially revived when Harry Redknapp took over the office of Saints manager. Despite an impressive record of 16 goals in 33 games, Crouch was unable to prevent Southampton’s relegation to the second division in 2005.

This impressive record caught Liverpool’s attention and he would eventually join the Reds before the start of the 2005-06 season. His career in Liverpool got off to a fairly slow start when Crouch didn’t score in any of his first 18 games for the club. However, he would break his duck at some point and score 42 goals in 134 games.

Crouch had three successful seasons at Anfield, including cutlery. He was part of the 2006 FA Cup winning team known as “The Gerrard Final” and the resulting Community Shield winners. Crouch also tried Champions League football for the first time in his career and was part of the Liverpool team that lost the 2007 Champions League final to AC Milan.

Return to Portsmouth and Tottenham

After his successful stint in Liverpool, Crouch returned to Portsmouth in 2008. His second stint at Fratton Park lasted only a season, but he was reunited with Harry Redknapp.

The second coming was very different from his first. He had come to a team in Portsmouth fresh from a formidable FA Cup triumph and was preparing for a season when Pompey would play European football. It was a tumultuous season, however, with three different managers taking the hot seat at Fratton Park. Portsmouth were eliminated from the UEFA Cup in the group stage and would eventually finish 14th in the Premier League.

Crouch scored 16 goals in 49 games and became Portsmouth’s top scorer for the 2008-09 season. He left Fratton Park at the end of the season to return to Tottenham and play under Harry Redknapp for the third time.

Peter Crouch made a fitting contribution in his second saying in Tottenham

Crouch returned to Spurs in 2009 for a cool £ 10million. His two years at the club where he entered senior football were significant. The impact he made will not be forgotten by any Tottenham fan.

Crouch scored the decisive goal against Manchester City that gave Tottenham a top four result and a chance in Champions League football. Spurs would take City’s challenge to finish fourth at the end of the 2009-10 season.

The great striker then continued to prevail by scoring a hat trick against Swiss Young Boys in the Champions League play-offs that secured Tottenham a place in the group stage of the competition. Spurs made good progress in the Champions League, and Crouch made another important contribution. Spurs faced AC Milan in the knockout stage of the competition and Crouch scored the only goal on both legs to secure Spurs a quarter-finals spot.

They were eventually knocked out by Real Madrid, but it’s been a season to remember, especially for Spurs and Crouch. Just a year after scoring against Manchester City to secure Spurs a top four result, he scored an own goal against the same opponents, meaning Spurs finished fifth and City secured a top four spot.

Crouch played a large role in Tottenham’s great adventure under Harry Redknapp. His goals were critical to Spurs’ progress on the European stage. In Crouch’s second game, he scored 24 goals in 92 games before moving to Stoke City in 2011 and becoming the Potters’ record player.

The great striker may not have fit for every team, but he will forever be a fan favorite at Spurs for contributing to the club where Crouch started playing football. While his first spell was unforgettable, his second was unforgettable.

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