'I was literally a head on a stick' - Crouch felt 'degraded' in final season at Burnley

The former England international has opened up on a difficult spell at Turf Moor which saw him "becoming the stereotype I always tried to avoid"
The former England international has opened up on a difficult spell at Turf Moor which saw him "becoming the stereotype I always tried to avoid"

Peter Crouch claims he felt "degraded' during his final season at Burnley, after being reduced to a "head on a stick".

Crouch joined Burnley from Stoke City in January 2019, bringing to an end an eight-year spell at the Britannia Stadium.

The 38-year-old struggled to earn a place in Sean Dyche's starting line-up at Turf Moor and finished the season with just six Premier League appearances to his name.

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Burnley decided against retaining Crouch's services, which led to the former England striker's decision to retire from professional football on July 12.

Crouch insists he was "physically fit" enough to carry on playing but decided against doing so as he felt he was becoming a stereotype.

"I felt physically fit whereas a lot of players just can't go any more. I felt like I could do another season fitness-wise," the ex-Liverpool and Tottenham striker told BBC Sport.

"[But] I felt like I was becoming the stereotype I always tried to avoid. In the last 10-15 minutes, we are launching it up to me.

"I am flicking it on, nicking a goal here and there. I knew I could have done it for possibly two more seasons, but I felt degraded by it.

"I literally became a head on a stick. I felt I was a little better than that."

Crouch did, however, reserve praise for Dyche, with whom he has kept in regular contact with since hanging up his boots.

"[Dyche] has a tough exterior, but I've found him to be such a top man," he said. "I still speak to him now because I shared something with him. I was going through a tough time with the retirement and he was first class with me.

"I can't thank him enough."

Crouch scored 108 Premier League goals over the course of his career and also managed to win 42 caps for England.

He has kept himself busy since calling time on his playing career but thinks footballers should be offered more support in retirement, with a lack of training on offer when moving into television and reporting roles.

"There's definitely a problem - there isn't enough help for players," Crouch added. "I am fortunate. I had offers to go straight into TV. But even then, I had no training or anything.

"All of a sudden I'm sitting there and someone gave me an earpiece and an autocue. I didn't have a clue what I was about to do. Nobody had ever put anything in my ear other than a cotton bud.

"I know some friends of mine [who have retired from professional football] got in a really, really dark place - waking up and not having any real goal, splitting up with their wives, not having a job, not having any real money coming in and going from a hero to basically a nobody. It happens like that.

"I can see why people lose it to drink and gambling because there's no release. It can be difficult. I know how fortunate I am to have these things to keep me busy, otherwise, I'd be losing it as well."

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