Stoke City Striker Peter Crouch Still has England in His Heart Despite Disappointment of Missing out on Euro 2012
Peter Crouch has spoken for the first time about his disappointment at being overlooked for Euro 2012 by Roy Hodgson, insisting he still wants to end his international exile from England.
Crouch was a surprise omission from Hodgson’s squad after the new England coach opted to take Andy Carroll to Poland and Ukraine, even though the Stoke City forward scored six more Premier League goals than his Liverpool rival, including that astonishing strike against Manchester City.
The 31 year-old has admitted he was “gutted” to receive the grim news by telephone from Hodgson the evening before the squad was announced and, despite his love of playing for his country, it is understood he turned down the invitation of going on the standby list as he was so upset at being overlooked.
Crouch’s enviable record of 22 goals in 42 international games also failed to cut any ice with Hodgson’s predecessor, Fabio Capello, who had been painted in some quarters as his arch nemesis before the Italian’s resignation, and he has not played for England since the friendly against France in November 2010, when he scored in a 2-1 defeat.
But Crouch’s misfortune has only served to fire him up for the forthcoming campaign and increase his determination to become a part of Hodgson’s new era. He will be 33 by the time of the next World Cup but on Friday at Stoke’s Clayton Wood training complex, the passion to pull on the white England jersey again was still abundantly clear.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “To play for your country in major tournaments is the pinnacle and I was desperate to play in another Euros so I was gutted to miss out.
“My goalscoring record stands up against anybody else and that made it even more frustrating. It’s a record I’m very proud of and whenever I’ve been selected for England I feel like I’ve done well.
“The manager rang me the day before the squad was announced and said it was a toss-up between me and Andy Carroll and obviously he went with Carroll. He was looking for one target man and out of the two of us he went with Andy. It was one of those things and I’ve got to focus now on the next World Cup.
“It was documented that Capello never came to the Britannia Stadium so it’s difficult to pick players who you haven’t seen play. For one reason or another he never came to the ground but this season if I’m playing well enough it [the World Cup] is still a target.
“I feel as fit as I’ve ever been. Of course you’ve got to be playing well but I will never turn down playing for my country. If the opportunity arises then obviously I’d grasp it.
“Yes, I was gutted but you’ve just got to move on. It was the manager’s decision and I have to take it on my chin and move on. I’ve had a nice break and I’m ready for the Premier League.”
Hodgson’s decision presented Crouch with the opportunity of an extended break, albeit hastily arranged, which took him to Mexico and Majorca.
But while it may have been painful for Crouch to watch England’s Euro 2012 campaign unfold on the television he admits that Hodgson deserved credit for dispelling all the pre-tournament negativity to lead his side into the last 16.
“I thought England did well. Nobody was expecting anything going into the tournament because we didn’t have a manager until a couple of weeks before,” he said. “Considering all those factors I thought they did OK and there wasn’t any disgrace at all.
“I’m an England fan and always want them to do well, whether I’m involved or not. But it had to be penalties that knocked us out, didn’t it?”
Unlike Carroll, at least Crouch will not have the turbulence of the transfer window to worry about this summer. His £10?million move from Tottenham last year was sealed late on a whirlwind final day but nearly 12 months on he is settled at Stoke, his golf handicap is down to 17 and he is so at home he has a weekly supply of oatcakes, the famous Staffordshire speciality, delivered to the training ground. All in stark comparison to the uncertain future Carroll is facing at Anfield under Brendan Rodgers.
With 14 goals last season Crouch was an easy winner of the club’s player of the year award and one will never tire of watching the goal against City, arguably one of the best to grace the Premier League. Stoke will undoubtedly benefit even further after his England heartbreak.
He said: “This is the longest break I’ve had since I’ve been playing and I feel really refreshed. I’m ready to go and really looking forward to the new season.
“The manager here believes in me and that’s really important. I’ve played right from the start and ended the season as the player of the year so I’ve been delighted with how it’s gone. I’d love to get back involved with England but if I don’t I’m not too bothered. I’m playing games and everything is good.”
Rumours of a Crouch chat show continue to persist but, for now, he is keen to let his feet do the talking.
By Agencies, 15/07/2012