football

Peter Crouch hopeful for England’s chances at Euros: ‘There are so many positives about this England team’


Former Three Lions striker thinks Gareth Southgate’s side can overcome Germany (Picture: Paddy Power)

Peter Crouch is at Tooting & Mitcham United. He’ll have to get used to such environments having just become a director of Dulwich Hamlet.

The former England striker is filming for bookmaker Paddy Power as he rides the crest of a wave of a second career in television having retired from playing in 2019.

But despite being the nation’s favourite football jester, he also played for some of the biggest clubs and was involved in some of the biggest games. Rewind 11 years to Bloemfontein and England 1 Germany 4.

Crouch was an unused substitute in the World Cup second-round tie in South Africa and watched on in horror as Fabio Capello’s team were dumped out.

It’s unlikely to have any bearing on tonight’s clash of old rivals in the last 16 of the European Championship at Wembley… well, so we hope.

Crouch has faith in Harry Kane (Picture: Carl Recine – Pool/Getty Images)

Penalty shoot-out defeats to Germany at the 1990 World Cup and then at Euro 96, when current manager Gareth Southgate missed his spot-kick at the old Wembley, live long in the memory, a constant thorn in England’s side even if Joachim Low’s men had to struggle through to the knockout stages this time.

‘That Germany side in 2010 was young and on its way through. They were very, very good,’ Crouch tells Metro.

‘But we had a top side and thought we would win. This Germany team now is not the one of the past but do not underestimate them by any means, that would be daft.’

Goalline technology came in during the intervening years but it was too late for the wrongly disallowed Frank Lampard goal that bounced down off the crossbar and clearly, unquestionably, over the line.

‘I couldn’t believe it. It was well over the line,’ adds Crouch, who won 42 caps from 2005 to 2010, scoring 22 goals, recalling how he looked on in complete disbelief.
Crouch briefly crossed paths with a young Harry Kane during his second spell at Tottenham from 2009-11. Kane is now the club’s talisman and captain of his country.

Southgate is the ‘right man for the job’ says Crouch (Picture: Paul Ellis / AFP)

But there is real concern about his current form after just one shot on target, and no goals, in England’s three group matches. Crouch, 40, is having none of it, though. Kane remains the top dog, he says.

‘Some cut-throat things have been said about team selection,’ Crouch reflects. ‘It feels if you have one bad half of football you’re out.

‘Bukayo Saka comes in against the Czech Republic and suddenly Phil Foden needs to be out.

‘Let’s not dress it up, Harry has not been at his best but when a chance comes along against Germany, or we win a penalty on Tuesday, who do you want to take it?’

He also stresses the Three Lions are not playing to Kane’s strengths, however. ‘We have the attacking talent to go and beat teams,’ insists Crouch.

‘At times it’s not been perfect for him. He thrives off crosses and needs balls coming in left, right and centre but he’s not been getting that.’

But Crouch is a Southgate disciple. ‘I’m a glass-half-full man and there are so many positives about this England team. At least with this tie now, we will find out early where we are,’ says the former Liverpool forward.

‘It’s been difficult to tell so far but we’ll find that out against Germany.

Bukayo Saka was England’s man of the match against Czech Republic (Picture: Getty)

‘There is a real club culture Gareth’s created and he is the right man for the job – and I don’t play anymore so I don’t have to say that!’

Whisper it quietly but Tooting are the traditional rivals of Dulwich, where Crouch spent time on loan from Tottenham 21 years ago and that’s as relevant as ever to his story.

He has just returned to Champion Hill as director of the National League South club but is busy with so many other things too. His second career means he’s on our screens more than ever, even if he does miss the game he loves.

‘I’ve been very fortunate with football and played for a long time,’ he says. ‘What I’m doing now is what I enjoy too. I wouldn’t do it otherwise. But I miss the buzz of training and matches, going in every day and seeing the lads.

‘I actually did my coaching badges at the same time as doing my podcast but I know I won’t have a management career like Scott Parker, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, the guys I played with.

‘I won’t get that feeling of winning promotion or winning the league, as Steven has in Scotland this year.’

Instead, a career in media, currently in the form of Crouchy’s Year-Late Euros (with Maya Jama and Alex Horne) is keeping him busy. It’s where he will watch tonight’s game.

‘We’ll be on air afterwards so it’ll just be a Diet Coke for me rather than a few beers,’ Crouch jokes.

It would be a fool who writes off the Germans, world champions as recently as 2014 of course, though Crouch – who played for eight clubs, plus three more on loan – will begin to feel football may just be coming home if only England can get past their old rivals and into the last eight.

Crouch explains: ‘My heart says 2-1… I won’t say what my head says! If we beat them, I think it’s on. I’ll start believing then. The whole country will be galvanised and the draw after that looks more favourable.’

Imperial Fields, Mitcham, to Wembley Stadium for the final on July 11 perhaps. Or maybe we’re getting carried away.

Peter Crouch is a Euro 2020 ambassador for Paddy Power, who is encouraging punters to change bookmaker as part of its ‘Switch for Better’ campaign.

Switching to Paddy will secure a free £5 Bet Builder for the England vs Germany game.

For more details, visit the Paddy Power website. If the grass looks greener, go and play on it!


MORE : ‘He has everything’ – Peter Crouch explains why Chelsea should re-sign ‘relentless’ Romelu Lukaku


MORE : Who won Euro 96 as England take on Germany?

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