Portsmouth v Tottenham Hotspur: Peter Crouch's heart is with Wembley not old club

09 April 2010 04:33
So when Peter Crouch arrives with Tottenham on Sunday to face former club Portsmouth in the second of the weekend's FA Cup semi-finals, his heart will be with the famous arena rather than the team he left last summer.

The relationship began when he went to watch England with his father, Bruce. The affiliation with England's home continued when, as a child, he stared at Wembley from a friend's bedroom with stars in his eyes and continued with goals aplenty under the new arch.

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'I've been fortunate enough to play in some great stadiums but we all know the history of Wembley,' said Crouch. 'I lived in Ealing, not that far from Wembley, and I can remember going to my mate's house from where you could see the Twin Towers from his bedroom window.

'I would go in there and I used to look at it and say 'one day, hopefully, if I'm lucky enough, I could be playing there'.'

And the striker, at 6ft 7in the tallest England international to date, added: 'I've had a love affair with this place since I was a kid I used to come here with my dad and watch England play, I can remember Peter Beardsley scoring a fantastic goal against Poland [1990], so to play here for my club and country now is fantastic.'

Four goals in his past two England appearances at Wembley have further confirmed his affinity with the place, and should confirm his part in the squad for South Africa even though the likes of Bobby Zamora and Darren Bent are scoring for fun.

'There are suddenly a lot of strikers who seem to be doing well and you can take nothing for granted,' he added.

'I'm very proud of my goalscoring record for England. I do think about going to South Africa, it's there in the back of my mind, and I've been lucky to play for a team who have been doing well in the FA Cup and fighting to qualify for the Champions League.'

Crouch was back at Wembley this week to support the bid to bring the World Cup back to England in 2018 but for now he is considering the immediate future and an attempt to add to his seven goals at the stadium since the Twin Towers made way for the arch; only Frank Lampard, with nine, has more.

But there will be little sympathy for his former club or the players who were his team-mates, in the semi-final. This is Portsmouth's last throw of the dice this season. Defeat will be followed by relegation.

'There's no room for sentiment in a big semi-final, but I do feel for Portsmouth,' insisted Crouch. 'I still have a lot of friends down there behind the scenes and I speak to Richard Hughes all the time, I talk to David James a lot as well.

'But I play for Tottenham now, I want to reach the FA Cup final, and you have to be ruthless. As a player you need that will to win, the drive to succeed, and you've got to be clinical.'

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp would have preferred to avoid the club he steered to victory in the 2008 FA Cup final.

He said: 'I was pleased that Portsmouth got through but I really didn't want to draw them. If I am honest I was hoping to draw Aston Villa.'

Peter Crouch supports the BT Vision England 2018 Back the Bid campaign. To pledge your support visit www.bt.com/2018.

Source: Telegraph