Peter Crouch at Anfield. Image: That Peter Crouch Film / Prime Video
Diego Maradona. Zinedine Zidane. Cristiano Ronaldo. Lionel Messi. Pele. George Best. Paul Gascoigne. All the greatest footballers have documentaries made about them. Now Peter Crouch joins their ranks as That Peter Crouch Film comes to Prime Video.
The striker’s career in football is fascinating. Sure, he wasn’t blessed with quite the same natural ability or speed or genius as the other names on the list. But that makes Crouch’s story all the more compelling. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Crouch was a talented footballer as a youngster. Tall, awkward, skilful and keen. But he was not expected to win the FA Cup and play in a Champions League final with Liverpool. Nor was he expected to play for England, let alone score a hat-trick, star in the World Cup and invent a robot dance goal celebration that would send the whole country into raptures. So how did he reach such heights?
In a new interview with The Big Issue, former QPR, Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City striker Crouch explained why he made it when so many young footballers fall by the wayside.
“There are so many factors to making it as a footballer,” he said. “There were players who were already developed as men. And some players with incredible talent that lost their way.
“The teenage years are hard. There are lots of temptations. I always had ability. But you would never have said I was definitely going to make it. Between 14 and 21, you lose a lot of people – but that was when I was the most dedicated.
“There were so many players you would have put ahead of me, but I had a massive passion for it. I had a sole dedication to being a footballer.”
In That Peter Crouch Film, we see that a winning combination of talent, his physical attributes, plus that single-minded dedication and his dad’s loving-but-harsh support took him to the top.
But it wasn’t always easy. In the new film, Crouch revisits some of the more difficult times. The early days when he was treated as a laughing stock by opposition supporters, jeered by his own team’s fans, and on the receiving end of cruel treatment in the press.
“It felt like the whole world was ridiculing me at times,” he told The Big Issue, in his Letter To My Younger Self interview.
“There were some really dark moments in my career. Revisiting those headlines for the new film was a bit weird. I’d forgotten so many of them. I blocked them out. But it was funny looking at [Crouch’s wife] Abbey’s reaction to it all. She wanted to kill people! She wanted to find out the names of the people who wrote those articles. Abbey has got my back.
“Luckily, it has gone full circle now. I always get a great reaction wherever I go.”
The film charts Crouch’s rise and rise. It shows Crouch as an inspirational figure who overcame a difficult start, rose above the criticism, and exuded joy as his career took him to the very top.
In our new interview, Crouch said: “Some footballers now look like they are working down the mine. I see that too much in football – players who are not enjoying their work. It is the greatest job in the world. A gift. And scoring a goal is the best part of the best job in the world. So when I see players not even smiling, I can’t relate to them.”
By contrast, That Peter Crouch Film shows why Crouchy might just be the most relatable footballer of the modern era.
As well as archive clips of Crouch as a gangly youth, standing head and shoulders above his teammates, there are match-winning goals for England. Alongside the revelation that he only had blow-up furniture in his fancy pad in Portsmouth Marina, there is Crouch’s robot dance goal celebration. And after focusing on how his father Bruce helped motivate Crouch to make the most of his football abilities, we see his struggles to score at Liverpool before eventually finding form and success.
There are contributions from Crouch’s former Liverpool and England teammate Steven Gerrard, ex-England boss Sven-Göran Eriksson, ex-Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp plus Graeme Le Saux, Luke Chadwick and Jason Lee – three players who were also on the receiving end of abuse from fans and the media.
But the film succeeds because of Crouch’s trademark humour and his delight at a career that went better than he could have imagined. His enthusiasm for football, which he shares with fans around the world, remains undimmed. And it’s infectious, meaning the film is entertaining while also making important points about how we treat young people in the public eye.
So how does Crouch feel about being the subject of a documentary?
“When I think about all of the incredible documentaries about such amazing talents I’ve seen – and now I’m there,” Crouch said. “I must have done something right.
“And I’m really proud of the film. It’s one of those where I’ll be telling people to watch it, rather than hoping no one does!”
That Peter Crouch Film is available now on Prime Video
Read the full Letter To My Younger Self interview with Peter Crouch – including the relationship advice he would give his younger self and the most important moment of his life – in The Big Issue magazine on sale from 3 July.
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