Peter Crouch Exclusive: I'd Take Steven Gerrard Over Frank Lampard, Crouchfest Over Glastonbury... And The Virgin Quote Is True
Wembley's rich green surface bathes in the searing heat of the August sun as candy floss clouds float over the stadium's retracting roof.
In the stands, empty red seats sparkle as the sunshine bounces off the leather upholstery. It's a day fit for an FA Cup final.
"I don't know how any of this works. Do I just put it over my head?" shouts 6ft 7in Peter Crouch at Jacksonville Jaguars legend Tony Boselli, who are both standing beside the pitch.
Crouch picks up a set of American football pads, wrapped in a Jags jersey and tries to suit up. It makes Mario Balotelli's efforts to put on a training vest look smooth. The former Stoke City striker gets the pads on, but his arms haven't found the jersey's sleeves and he's restrained like a violent prisoner in a straitjacket.
"If I had the make-up on I'd look scary," Crouch tells Boselli who remains silent as he helps the former England international put on his helmet and gloves. "I'm more of a quarterback," he insists, which he goes on to prove by fumbling a series of easy catches.
Once the pads and helmet are off and he's done promoting the NFL's London series, he's going to sit down in the Wembley dugout to face SPORTbible's uncompromising interview format: Versus. Two options, one answer and we don't take, "can't choose" for an answer (ok, maybe we do sometimes). Crouchy, don't drop the ball on this one too...
Dance: The robot or the Milly Rock?
"The Milly Rock's not for me, definitely not. I loved the Sharpie Shuffle (The trademark goal celebration of former Manchester United winger Lee Sharpe, who used to dance around the corner flag before using it as a microphone) and I was a big fan of Roger Miller's dance at World Cup Italia' 90 - it's classic. If I'm picking between the Milly Rock and the Robot, it's the Robot all day, but if I'm picking my favourite ever goal celebration dance, then it has to be the Sharpie Shuffle."
Summer for me is about time with family . pic.twitter.com/dtft1CZoyl- Peter Crouch (@petercrouch) June 19, 2017
Funniest Tweet: "Summer for me is about time with the family" or "We're extremely proud to be the PFA Player of the Year trophy"?
Both of them made me laugh, that's why I posted them. The PFA Player of the Year trophy did really look like me so I'd pick that one, but the giraffe one was a great day out. We were feeding giraffes and I just thought it was a funny caption. I didn't realize what kind of impact they'd both have, but they're really funny to me. Abbey (Abbey Clancy, Crouch's wife) thinks I'm ridiculous because I'll take a photo and think of something funny to say and post it. Whatever I find funny I just put out there.
The virgin quote: fact or fiction?
Fact - I said it. It was the end of a long day and I was tired so I was just coming up with silly answers. One journalist asked me, "What would you be if you weren't a footballer?" And I just said the first thing that came to my head, which was, "A virgin." I'd like to think I'd have a few options, but it was funny. It's amazing how it's followed me around.
Toughest sport: NFL or rugby?
It's amazing what NFL players put their bodies through. Watching the impact of some of the hits is nuts, but rugby is just as tough. Rugby players don't wear pads and the collisions and physicality are constant. I couldn't really separate them.
Fancy dress: Chicken or penguin?
As you know, I've been in both camps. I do like an animal costume. I've also gone out dressed as a shark - that was a good one. Probably for the day I had, I'd go for the big chicken. We had a whole day in it, it wasn't just an evening. We got a great reaction from it because it was just a normal Tuesday, there was no real reason for it. We just decided to do it, so we left our clothes in the fancy dress shop and headed out.
Most embarrassing: Panenka vs Jamaica or dancing through a limo sunroof?
The penalty was the most embarrassing moment on the football pitch and the limo was probably one of the worse off it. I was out with a few of the Tottenham boys at the time and just shouted at them while hanging out the top of a limo. They laughed and then I got back in. I didn't know there were photographers taking pictures. At the time, it was funny then, obviously, it's not until the next day when everything's in the cold light of day and you're sober. I was just hanging out the sunroof of a limo, but you can't do those things when you're playing for England.
Dinner party guest: Harry Redknapp or Tony Pulis?
Oh, difficult. I think Harry just for stories. He could tell a story, I've got so many, but most of them I don't really want to say. He was a character. I remember going on a little safari with him while we were in Portsmouth... I can't go into detail about anything, but it was an experience. Pulis would be good value too. He likes a glass of red. He used to give us a bottle of red every now and then. [SPORTbible: Would he wear his baseball cap to the party?] I've seen him without it.
Companion for a night out: Fabio Capello or Sven-Göran Eriksson?
Oh, Sven all day. Not even a question. Capello, he'd like to go to an art exhibition. I'd rather go with Sven. 100%. Sven could bring a lot to a night out, plenty of chat, he's got everything.
Nando's sauce: Lemon and herb or extra hot?
Extra hot, I like a bit of spice. I look down on people that have lemon and herb. What's the point? What are you even doing there? I like double chicken in pitta, with fries and hot sauce on the side.
Player: Lampard or Gerrard?
I'd have to say Gerrard just because I played with him more, but I've got so much respect for Frank, loved him as a player. When I was with England, I actually got on really well with Frank, and watching him train was like nothing I'd ever seen. Amazing. But I'd have to say Stevie just because I saw him day in and day out and he was top class. He could do everything. People used to talk about Xabi Alonso as a passer, saying he was incredible, but Stevie was on a par if not better. He was also one of the best tacklers I'd ever seen, good in the air, could play any position, dominated games and won them on his own. If I was designing a footballer, I would design Steven Gerrard.
Overhead kick: Cristiano Ronaldo versus Juventus (2018) or Crouch versus Galatasaray (2006)?
Obviously, for multiple reasons, I'd pick my goal, but Ronaldo's was more difficult technically because he was a lot higher than I was. I love an overhead kick and that (versus Galatasaray) was probably my favourite - the way my eyes lit up when the ball went behind me, it was Kop end, it was the Champions League, it was the only match on that night, it was Luis García's reaction and it went in perfectly. I loved everything about the goal. When you try an overhead kick you either end up as a hero or a meme. I've been both. There's an England one against Trinidad going around where I've tried to do a scissor kick and ends up going horribly wrong.
Festival: Crouchfest or Glasto?
Crouchfest is more niche but better. Glasto's gone commercial. We've gone underground. We're bringing the real s**t.
What's worse: Half-and-half scarves or full-kit w**kers?
Half and half. It's just not acceptable in this day and age. Full kit w**kers are pretty bad as well, but at least they've got one team haven't they? It's OK to wear a full kit for anyone under the age of 16, but if older than that and you're wearing a full kit on, it's not on.
Watch the first episode of 'That Peter Crouch American Football Show' on www.jaguars.co.uk/crouch