Crouch denies millionaire stars are out of touch with the fans
Published 23:00 10/12/10 By John Cross
Peter Crouch says his tough start in football will always keep him grounded.
The skinny striker has helped Tottenham reach the Champions League knock-out stages and they face Chelsea in a title showdown tomorrow.
But Crouch says playing for non-league Dulwich Hamlet as a teenager, leaving Spurs then having to work his way up the ladder all over again will mean he never gets too big for his boots.
Tottenham striker Crouch, whose model fiancee Abbey Clancy is expecting their first child, also dismissed as “nonsense” suggestions that footballers with their WAGs and flash cars are out of touch with fans.
Crouch, talking to Life’s A Pitch website, said: “We earn great money for doing something we enjoy, but that doesn’t mean we are out of touch with fans.
“I speak to fans all of the time in the street and after games. We certainly know what’s going on and how hard it can be.
“I don’t have to remind myself at all. Every day I drive into training I remember how lucky I am.
“It might be a bit different if you’d played at a club like Liverpool all your life but I’m different. I’ve played on loan at Dulwich Hamlet, I’ve played in the Ryman League, I’ve played in the Championship and some tough, tough games.
“In my opinion, I deserve to be where I am. But I will never take it for granted. I know how lucky I am.
“Dulwich Hamlet was big for me. I think I was 17, I hadn’t properly developed upwards as an adult.
“I was growing upwards – but I wasn’t growing outwards! I was getting battered every week and it was hard.
“It spurred me on. I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be, I wanted to reach the top level and maybe that toughened me up a lot.
“There were times when I didn’t think I’d make it. I was at Tottenham as a kid. I had to leave there because I wasn’t getting a chance even in the reserve team.
“I was lucky enough to get a call from Gerry Francis at QPR. It was the best thing I ever did. I’d say that for the young players on the fringes of things then I’d always say drop down a level.”
Crouch, 29, is also enjoying another great season under Harry Redknapp at Tottenham and has backed his current boss’s claims to succeed Fabio Capello.
Former Liverpool striker Crouch admitted he was disappointed not to get a real chance in last summer’s World Cup, yet insists he still respects Capello. But Crouch’s admiration for Redknapp was glowing.
Crouch added: “They (Capello and Redknapp) are very different. I watched Fabio Capello’s style with his AC Milan teams, I’ve got great respect for him.
“He’s similar to Rafa Benitez in the way he’ll treat you, whereas Harry will speak to you, put an arm round you and speak to you.
“Harry will talk to you whether you’ve had an awful game or a good game, whereas maybe Capello is a bit more aloof.
“Every country has a different mentality. With Harry, he knows how to get the best out of me.
“He’ll talk to me and be honest with me whether I’ve had a good game or a bad game. Harry’s way suits me.
“I’ve seen Capello lose it, believe me. He’s quite a hard man. He’s got an aura and an air of respect around him.
“People talk about an Englishman being England manager and at the moment there’s no-one better.
“He’s got Tottenham doing fantastically well and for me I want him to stay for as long as possible.”
Crouch is also convinced that Redknapp can bring success to Spurs this season both domestically and in Europe.
He added: “We’ve got all the ability there and now it’s just about getting the mentality right to make sure we win things.”