Crouch eyes place in Spurs history
Peter Crouch has urged his Tottenham team-mates to make themselves White Hart Lane legends by giving the club a UEFA Champions League debut season to remember.
England striker Crouch is already assured of his place in Spurs folklore after his maiden European hat-trick propelled the club into the competition's group stage for the first time. The 29-year-old's treble in last night's 4-0 thrashing of Young Boys came on top of the winner he scored at Manchester City in May to secure fourth place in the England Premier League and Tottenham's first European Cup campaign for almost half a century.
And it was to the legendary 1961 double-winning team - who went on to reach the semi-finals of Europe's premier club competition the following year - that Crouch's thoughts turned after his own heroics. "The double-winning 60s side was part of such a fantastic era in Tottenham's history and we've got a chance to try to be a part of that history," said the lanky hit-man.
Today's group-stage draw - which saw Spurs handed tough clashes with holders Inter Milan, Werder Bremen and FC Twente - held no fears for Crouch, who reached the final with Liverpool three years ago. "I wouldn't say this team is any worse than that," he said. "I genuinely believe that we've got some fantastic, match-winning players.
"If we're organised and do a job away from home, I don't think any team will enjoy coming to White Hart Lane," he went on. "We've got the players to take the game to them and, if we're on our game, we can beat anyone. I think if we're solid and tactically aware, there's no limit to what we can achieve."
Last night's play-off round second leg at White Hart Lane saw Crouch rekindle his Champions League love affair.The striker always seemed to come alive in the competition when he was a Liverpool player and he now looks set to pick up where he left off at Anfield.
Crouch has revealed how he was inspired by the famous Champions League anthem last night, the first time he had heard it while on the field for a game for more than two years."It's such an amazing theme tune, isn't it?" he said. "You stand there and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and all the crowd get going. When you hear that music, you realise you're playing the biggest competition in the world."
Big man on song
Crouch was really on song yesterday, with Young Boys simply unable to cope with his 6ft-7in frame as he scored two unchallenged headers. The striker completed his hat-trick from the spot, while Spurs' other goal - their crucial second - was scored controversially by Jermain Defoe via the assistance of an arm.
That helped seal a 6-3 aggregate success, a result that appeared unthinkable when Tottenham fell 3-0 behind after half an hour of last week's first leg. "If we'd have gone out with a whimper in a two-legged affair, it would've been disappointing," said Crouch, who cannot wait to be reunited with the cream of Europe. "The Barcelonas, the Inter Milans, Real Madrids: we've got the opportunity to play them and I think the fans are all looking forward to it. I think it's been too long for this club. It's a club that should be in the Champions League."
Spurs' progress leaves captain Ledley King with a real dilemma over how best to manage his notoriously fragile knees. "I really hope I can play in as many games as possible, league and cup," said the defender, who was left out of the first leg against Young Boys and Saturday's Premier League win at Stoke to ensure he would be able to play last night. "I don't want to be picking and choosing games. The manager was the one who told me to sit out the Stoke game. I thought I was ready for that game. I'll speak to him and we'll see."