Top schoolboy footballers get their shot at Stoke City

By Shawana Ebanks March 28, 2019

Seven of the best footballers from last year's schoolboy football season are currently training at Stoke City as a part of the Digicel #ISSARealGoals campaign.

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    Peter Crouch has announced his retirement from football at the age of 38 having represented England, Liverpool, Tottenham and many other clubs across a distinguished career.

    Most known for his height – measuring at 6ft 7in tall – Crouch spent much of his playing days in the Premier League and featured for his country at two World Cups, in 2006 and 2010.

    A gangly centre-forward, Crouch was rarely celebrated for his technical abilities but still managed to have a strong impact for several big clubs in England's top flight.

    But having long balls hopefully pumped up to him has ultimately taken its toll, as he revealed that scenario to be a contributing factor in his final decision to draw things to a close.

    In his Daily Mail column, Crouch wrote: "I have had 23 years to prepare for this moment but, now it is here, you realise nothing can prepare you at all. The time has come refer to myself as a 'former footballer'; this incredible journey I have been on since I was 16 is over.

    "My ambition was to play until I was 40, so it is scary saying the word 'retirement'. To go from being a regular starter to someone whose role is limited to 10 or 15 minutes off the bench has been hard to accept.

    "I will be 39 in January, but I am physically fit and could have carried on. What I didn't want to be was someone who was thrown on to have balls smashed up to them."

    Crouch signed his first professional contract in 1998 when a youngster at Tottenham and, although he left two years later before making his debut, he returned in 2009.

    During his first Spurs spell, Crouch was loaned out to Non-League Dulwich Hamlet and Swedish minnows Hassleholm – and he acknowledges, he has come a long way since then.

    "Let's be honest – you would not have taken odds on me making it then," he added. "If you had told me at that point I would go on to play for England 42 times and score 22 goals, play for Liverpool in a Champions League and FA Cup final and score the goal that put Tottenham back in the European Cup for the first time in four decades, I would have had you locked up."

    Crouch left Spurs the first time around for QPR, before then going on to join Portsmouth and Aston Villa, from whom he was loaned to Norwich City.

    A move to Southampton followed in 2004-05, scoring 12 Premier League goals and earning a switch to Liverpool, where he stayed for three years before moving back to both Portsmouth and Spurs.

    Seven-and-a-half years at Stoke took Crouch into the twilight of his career and he closed things out at Burnley – the perfect club to bring things to an end.

    "Burnley, really, was the ideal place to finish," he wrote. "I didn't make the biggest impact after I went there in January, but I was so glad I went.

    "Sean Dyche is a top manager and the boys are quality. They have a fantastic set up and I loved going in every day. They are a great club."

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