Peter Crouch says he is relishing his role as a football pundit and revealed he has no issue calling out friends and former colleagues when they underperform.
The ex-Liverpool and Tottenham striker has forged a successful media career after hanging up his boots in 2019, writing a book and launching a podcast as well as becoming a Paddy Power ambassador.
And Crouchy hopes he can be seen as a serious analyst while also someone who enjoys the lighter side of football in a landscape saturated by stern-faced old pros.
Speaking on the latest episode of our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, the main man said: “I like this Paddy Power stuff and I really enjoy doing my podcasts – I feel that’s sort of just me being me. I’m just having a laugh and enjoying it.
“Of course I take sport seriously, but I’ve always tried to enjoy it as well. I’ve always wanted to be around the live games and obviously I work with BT and they do the Champions League and they do the Premier League. I’m next to the pitch and I’m around the players and I’ve still got a foot in that camp.
“As long as you’re around the same people, you still have the same sort of buzz. That’s what I wanted to do, but then I also wanted to still do the other stuff where I was just sort of taking the mick a little bit and seeing the lighter side of football as well. Because I feel so much with the punditry side of it, everything’s so serious, everything’s analysed and I feel like there needs to be a bit of fun in sport as well.”
Crouch has no reservations about upsetting players with criticism, partly because he is not hunting a job in management any time soon!
Asked about how he deals with dishing out negativity, he said: “I have no problem with it whatsoever. I spoke to someone recently who wants to get into management and they’re doing a bit of punditry and he’s trying to tread very carefully about what he says because he’s thinking he might be managing that player.
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“You know that if you slag off a certain club, they might not offer you a job and if you’re thinking that way, I don’t think you can do the job properly.
“For me personally, I know that I’m quite comfortable with what I’m doing. The way I see it is if someone has a bad game or someone makes a mistake, even if it’s your mate, you can’t cover up and say ‘oh that didn’t happen’. I just think you’ve got to give it honestly – you’ve got to say it as you see it.
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The latest episode of "From The Horse's Mouth" features Paddy Power and Ruby Walsh in discussion with @petercrouch and it's a bloody good listen.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) November 9, 2020
“Even when I was still playing, I always remember looking at some of my friends in the media – if they hammered me for something, that was warranted. If I played badly or missed a chance, I would never hold that against them. I’d say ‘no you were spot on there’ and I think that all you’ve got to be is honest.
“You can only give your opinion and when you see that person face to face, if you can still look him in the eye and still give that opinion and say ‘that’s how I feel’ then I think that’s fair enough, isn’t it?”
Crouch often had a tough time from the media during his playing career, despite 205 goals in 735 career appearances – the majority of which came in the Premier League.
Scrutiny was even worse on international duty and the formidable forward, who scored 22 goals in 42 Three Lions outings, said: “When you go and play for England at World Cups, the opinions that people have just go way out of the spectrum that anyone should really be used to. It’s just crazy.
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“I remember being at Southampton one minute, then I was at Liverpool and England and playing in the World Cup the next and it just went bang and you just think the whole world’s got an opinion – good, bad, indifferent. My mum stopped buying newspapers because it was upsetting her so much.
“You’ve just got to have a thick skin, haven’t you? It used to upset me sometimes when I’d see something completely false, but then on the flip side of it you’re never as good as people think you are and you’re never as bad as people think you are – or say you are. So you just have to have some kind of context, but it can blow your mind, I think at first certainly when you get into the England team.
“There’s certain players who didn’t take it well. I’ve seen players crumble and hide in matches – it’s amazing to see so many good players in training that can’t replicate that on a match situation because of the pressure and because of that scrutiny.
“Certainly with England, I think we’ve seen it and I think it’s been to our detriment really as a country in tournaments that that kind of pressure has definitely made people play within themselves at times. Some people thrive on it and some people go in their shell and you definitely see that.
“My dad doesn’t mince his words and he took exception a couple of times to a few journalists. I remember him pinning one up on the wall because he was hammering me. [He was] one of those types of journalists that has an agenda against you for some reason, and you just think every article is negative.
“I didn’t read it [but] my dad reads it all and he finally read this one particular journalist… anyway he did actually write another article about him actually not seeing players as people. He wrote an article, fair play to him, and said ‘I never thought that when I was writing these things about his dad or his family or his mum’. You’re just seen as a footballer and nothing else.
“So it was amazing that my dad in that one moment where he pinned him up against the wall did change his mindset a little bit, and he was a little bit kinder shall we say.”
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