Crouch answers your questions – starting with tales of Fowler and Bale

There may be no football but that’s no barrier to our man PETER CROUCH: In the first of a weekly series, our columnist is here to spread some cheer and answer YOUR questions – starting with tales of Fowler, Bale… and a shark attack in Portsmouth!

  • Peter Crouch explains why Rafael van der Vaart was his favourite strike partner
  • The former striker reveals which foreign club he would liked to have played for
  • Crouch reacts to the news he beat Lionel Messi in the ‘stay at home’ challenge

There won’t be any live football for the foreseeable future but that doesn’t mean we can’t still talk about the beautiful game. 

Rather than feeling sorry for ourselves, Sportsmail picked up the phone and spoke to our columnist Peter Crouch for a good old fashioned football chit-chat. 

Crouch answered questions sent in by readers as part of a new weekly series, which begins with tales about Robbie Fowler, Gareth Bale and the foods on his shopping list…  

Peter Crouch answers your questions as part of a new weekly series here on Sportsmail

Jim Bob Burrell (Twitter) 

I was lucky to play alongside some fantastic players. I had a great rapport with Jermain Defoe and during our time at Portsmouth, Tottenham and England we had a record around 50 goals in 50 games. The best partnership I had, though, was with Rafael van der Vaart at Tottenham.

What an unbelievable talent Rafa had. He was as important to our team as Luka Modric at that time and we just clicked straight away. I set up quite a lot of his goals, as he always knew when to arrive for my knockdowns. He was so intelligent and I’m not sure people appreciated how good he was.   

Peter Crouch says Rafael van der Vaart was his favourite striker partner during his career

Which team outside of England would you have most liked to play for?

Don Andon (Twitter) 

Great question! Growing up, Italian football was my thing. I loved Sampdoria and I had their distinctive blue kit. I can nearly name the team now who played against Barcelona in the 1992 European Cup final.

There was Gianluca Pagliuca in goal. Pietro Vierchowod in defence on to Attilio Lombardo, Roberto Mancini and Gianluca Vialli, who was a hero of mine. Ruud Gullit had a spell playing for them, too.

I would have picked them or AC Milan, having played (and scored) at the San Siro.

Not many people know this but I had some interest from Sampdoria and Genoa late in my career. I even asked Graeme Souness, who once played for Sampdoria, what it would be like to live there and how it was in terms of schools for the kids. I’d have loved to try things in Italy.

Crouch admits he would’ve loved to have played in Italy and worn Sampdoria’s famous kit

Where do you stand on fruit and veg being used in cakes?

Andy Clark (Twitter) 

It’s an interesting subject you raise, Andy. I love fruit and nut chocolate bars and I will give a big thumbs-up to carrot cake every day of the week. In terms of putting fruit on something savoury — like pineapple on a pizza — that’s absolute nonsense. And what are those American breakfasts all about with maple syrup drizzled over them? No. Stop it.

What is the one food that’s top of your shopping list?

Jim (email)

I’m a big fan of crisps, Jim. I’d have to make sure there was a packet of flame-grilled steak McCoy’s in the trolley. I couldn’t leave the supermarket, either, without a jar of Marmite. I quite often start the day with it on toast and it amazes me when I hear people say they don’t like it.

Funniest story from a trip abroad with a room-mate?

Monty Brewster (Twitter)

There was an infamous trip with Liverpool in 2007 when we went to La Manga. An incident between Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise took the headlines but there was a story about Robbie Fowler (pictured together, right) that has not been widely publicised. Rafa Benitez had allowed us a night off, but set a curfew of 10pm. Rafa was big on discipline and word reached the lads that he was roaming the corridors, on patrol. Robbie and I had broken the curfew, but fortunately we got back to our room without him seeing that we were late.

Crouch reveals a hilarious story involving himself, Robbie Fowler and Rafa Benitez at Liverpool

Suddenly there was a knock on the door. It was Rafa.

‘Crouch, you are here,’ he said. ‘Where is Fowler?’

I looked over my shoulder, expecting Robbie to be in bed, but he was nowhere to be seen.


As I was trying to come up with an answer, I caught a glimpse of Robbie out the corner of my eye. Somehow, he’d hoisted himself on to the top of a wardrobe and was crammed into the tiniest space. He knew I couldn’t say, ‘He’s behind you, Rafa’.

So there he was, in this little space, enjoying watching me trying to say something sensible. Rafa, oblivious to it all, became more and more exasperated as I mumbled ‘I don’t know’, while biting my lip so I didn’t burst out laughing.

There was no way to placate Rafa. He went off muttering, promising to take action in the morning. When the door closed, Robbie dropped down with a smile on his face. If there was mischief to be had, Robbie knew exactly how to find it!

Most impressive player you’ve seen develop?

 Graham (email) 

When I was at Southampton there was a buzz about two kids at the Academy — Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale. We heard all sorts of positive reports and I knew there was interest from Liverpool about signing Gareth in the summer of 2007.

Our paths did not cross for another couple of years, until we were together at Tottenham. The young lad I saw initially had some confidence issues and had not enjoyed playing at left back. The talk was that he was going to go to Nottingham Forest for £2million.

Crouch recalls Gareth Bale’s incredible development during their time together at Tottenham

Then, though, he started to find his feet. He got faster, stronger. His confidence began to grow and gradually all those special things we had been told about when he was a kid started to come true.

The night that did it for me with him was when he scored a hat-trick in the San Siro.

Maicon, the Inter Milan right back, looked like he had been traumatised by the way Gaz kept running at him relentlessly. He tore him to shreds and it was proof that we had a galactico in our midst. You couldn’t wish to see a more spectacular transition.

In the ‘stay at home’ challenge, did you know you juggled a toilet roll more times (22) than Messi (19)?

Daniel (email)

What can I say, Daniel? I’ve always had huge faith in my own ability. Having watched the videos again, though, we need to point out the little maestro used both feet and I only used my left leg to stand on. Also, Messi finished his with volley. I was nearly tackled by a door.

I hope, on a serious note, it brought some light relief — and I hope this page can do the same. I wouldn’t dream of downplaying the situation in which we find ourselves.

We need to support each other and do all the things we have been advised to do to stay well. Keep safe everyone.

Lionel Messi failed to beat Crouch’s tally in the ‘stay at home challenge’ on social media

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