Peter Crouch has opened up on his mixed feelings towards the end of his career, admitting he felt undervalued and was unwilling to drop down the leagues before calling it a day.
The Paddy Power ambassador also revealed his reservations about pursuing a career in management, claiming the all-consuming nature of the job is putting him off.
Speaking on the latest episode of our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Crouchy got stuck into a serious discussion with regulars Ruby Walsh and main man Paddy about life after hanging up his boots at Burnley in 2019.
“I’ve really enjoyed my retirement, but I’ve been lucky that I’ve been packing my time with stuff that I enjoy doing,” he said. “I’ve been going to football matches to do commentaries and punditry, while I’ve been doing our podcast which I love. I’ve been filling my time with quite fun stuff so I can’t complain.
“I still miss the buzz of football. You can’t replicate that, but I feel blessed that I’m doing what I’m doing and I enjoy it. I just felt like I’d had a good innings. A lot of players retire because they’ve had an injury.
“I still felt quite fit and that I could be a head on a stick for the last 10 minutes – and probably earn a good living doing that for another couple of years!
“But I didn’t feel like I was having the same sort of impact I had previously so I felt the time was right. I’d written my book, started the podcast and media stuff was going quite well while I also did my coaching badges, because I didn’t know if I wanted to do that route. I did all that before I retired so that hopefully I could go straight into something.
“By the end of my career I wasn’t starting games. I was just coming on late and we would lump the ball up to me in the hope that I would cause problems. That became my role. I was 38, and I’d had a great innings, but I felt like I was a better player than that.
“When I was playing for Liverpool and England, I was playing 90 minutes and people could see that I had the ability. By the end, I felt like I was just using my height as an impact weapon at the end of games, and it was a little bit degrading.
“I could have dropped down the leagues doing that, but I felt like I was better than that and didn’t want to be typecast or remembered in that way. I couldn’t have coped with being that impact sub – I did it for about five years anyway before, and that was more than enough!”
Crouch underwent his coaching qualifications in order to keep his options open for a career in football after his playing days, but the former England international – who scored 108 goals in 468 Premier League appearances – is yet to commit to a full-time role.
“I’ve done my coaching badges, and coaching and management is not something I would ever rule out,” he said. “It was hard work because you’ve got to jump through a lot of hoops, and I have a lot more respect for coaches now than I ever did when I was playing. So much goes into it, and there are parts of me that think I might regret not going down that path.
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“I look at Scott Parker, who is a friend of mine. When he went up with Fulham from the play-offs last season, that buzz and adrenaline… I won’t have that. I’ll just be talking about people having that feeling, which wrangles a bit, but the downsides are what put me off. For Scott, it has just consumed his life. It’s 24 hours.
“I played football for 22 years, day-in-day-out, and it’s all I’ve ever known so it’s nice to step back from that, have a break and give the family some time. If you go into management that’s gone but you have to go into it 100 per cent otherwise you get found out very quickly.
“If you do it, you want to do it properly. It’s great what Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are doing, but it’s consuming their lives. They are ‘in’ it. For me, I still wanted to be involved in football but I wasn’t sure I wanted to have that constantly over me.”
Podcast regular Ruby Walsh can relate, having experienced a very similar feeling when deciding to call time on his illustrious riding career in May 2019.
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Ruby rode 213 Grade 1 winners and has 59 Cheltenham Festival triumphs to his name – more than anyone else in history – but hasn’t been tempted to try his hand as a trainer.
“I have found the transition to retirement really enjoyable,” said Ruby. “I was fully aware that I could never replicate the buzz but my mindset was that I had had enough and I wanted to try something else.
“As a jockey, it doesn’t matter how slow you get because you’re never moving in the first place. You’re only sitting up on the horse’s back. But there was definitely a pride aspect in my decision – I didn’t want to be second choice.
“I needed to get off the treadmill. It was not the pressure of racing, but the constant expectation that I wanted to get away from. If I went on to be a trainer, that expectation was straight back on me. It’s the same in football when players become managers – you’re straight back under those expectations.”
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