Crouch insists he wants to end his international exile after Euro 2012 snub
The Stoke City striker was left out of England’s 23-man squad for the Championships in Poland and Ukraine but wants to force himself back into the national team reckoning
Peter Crouch has revealed his disappointment at being overlooked by Roy Hodgson for England’s Euro 2012 squad, but insists he will make it his personal mission to fight his way back into international contention.
Crouch was one of the slightly surprising absentees from Hodgson’s inaugural England squad for a competitive tournament, with the former Fulham boss opting for Liverpool target-man Andy Carroll instead.
The Stoke City striker actually scored six more times than Carroll last season, including a stunning volley against Premier League champions Manchester City, but it was not enough to convince the new Three Lions manager.
Crouch admits that he was “gutted” after being told by Hodgson over the phone that he would not be making the squad the evening before it was announced, and reportedly even turned down an opportunity to go on the standby list.
This was due to the fact that Crouch loved playing for England so much that he was too upset by the rejection to play back-up.
The 6ft 7in striker has an outstanding international record, boasting 22 goals from 42 games, but this does not appear to have been impressive enough for Hodgson’s squad selection.
Crouch, though, insists the snub will drive him on to bigger and better things next season as he hopes to muscle his way into Hodgson’s reckoning despite the fact he will turn 33 by the time the next World Cup begins in Brazil.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “To play for your country in major tournaments is the pinnacle and I was desperate to play in another Euros so I was gutted to miss out.
“My goalscoring record stands up against anybody else and that made it even more frustrating. It’s a record I’m very proud of and whenever I’ve been selected for England I feel like I’ve done well.
“The manager rang me the day before the squad was announced and said it was a toss-up between me and Andy Carroll and obviously he went with Carroll. He was looking for one target man and out of the two of us he went with Andy. It was one of those things and I’ve got to focus now on the next World Cup.
“It was documented that [previous England manager Fabio] Capello never came to the Britannia Stadium so it’s difficult to pick players who you haven’t seen play. For one reason or another he never came to the ground but this season if I’m playing well enough it [the World Cup] is still a target.
“I feel as fit as I’ve ever been. Of course you’ve got to be playing well but I will never turn down playing for my country. If the opportunity arises then obviously I’d grasp it.
“Yes, I was gutted but you’ve just got to move on. It was the manager’s decision and I have to take it on my chin and move on. I’ve had a nice break and I’m ready for the Premier League.”
Crouch watched on as England went out on penalties to Italy in the quarter-finals of the Euros, but despite the negativity surrounding the defeat, the former Spurs striker believes that Hodgson deserves credit for his team’s performance.
He said: “I thought England did well. Nobody was expecting anything going into the tournament because we didn’t have a manager until a couple of weeks before. Considering all those factors I thought they did OK and there wasn’t any disgrace at all.
“I’m an England fan and always want them to do well, whether I’m involved or not. But it had to be penalties that knocked us out, didn’t it?”
Twelve months on from his move from the capital, Crouch appears to have settled nicely at his new Staffordshire home, having struck 14 goals in his debut season and subsequently picking up the club’s player of the year award.
He now wants to carry on where he left off and show Hodgson what he missed out on.
He added: “This is the longest break I’ve had since I’ve been playing and I feel really refreshed. I’m ready to go and really looking forward to the new season.
“The manager here believes in me and that’s really important. I’ve played right from the start and ended the season as the player of the year so I’ve been delighted with how it’s gone. I’d love to get back involved with England but if I don’t I’m not too bothered. I’m playing games and everything is good.”