Peter Crouch summed up his 30 yard strike against Manchester City yesterday as the best goal he's ever scored. Nobody could argue with that, his back to goal, he controlled, then shot on the turn, the flight of the ball giving England goal keeper Joe Hart no chance at all.
Such talent and yet the Stoke City striker seems to have spent a large part of his career battling to prove he is more than just a 'big guy' up front. Surprising, as just about anyone who has watched him play will realise that if anything it's his skill and rarely his height that gives opposing defenders reason for concern.
Just take England, his goals to appearances ratio is better than just about anyone, including Wayne Rooney. But that didn't stop former England boss Fabio Capello from rarely picking him in key games. Admittedly Crouch hasn't always had an easy ride, his first taste of the Premier League came with Aston Villa, signed by Graham Taylor he failed to return the goals the fans desired. Taylor has since told me he saw Crouch as a long term prospect, but Taylor's tenure didn't last long enough to allow Crouch to flourish, and his replacement, David O'Leary soon moved the striker on for a knockdown price.
That was 2004, since then further moves have seen Crouch win trophies with Liverpool, guide Tottenham into the Champions League and most recently join Stoke for a club record transfer fee. Since that move in August last year he's been repaying the multi million pound fee with an impressive goal tally, averaging one in every three appearances. And of those, the incredible strike against Manchester City on Saturday will not easily be topped. Just maybe the 6 foot 6" striker is coming to his peak at exactly the right time.
England are being led to Euro 2012 by Stuart Pearce, early signs are he'll be relying on a lot of youthful players. But maybe there should now be room for one 31 year old who stands out from the crowd purely because of his talent and not his build.