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Villa v Liverpool club connections text/pictures: Peter Crouch

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Villa v Liverpool club connections text/pictures: Peter Crouch

Villa v Liverpool throws up many connections - well twenty-six of them to be exact - and one of the chief among them is Peter Crouch.

Check out our picture gallery looking at Peter Crouch's time at Villa and Liverpool.

Crouch comes firmly into focus these next two weekends, with Villa facing the Reds and then his current club Stoke City.

In fact, it was 11 years ago this week that the 6ft 7in striker sealed a move to Villa Park from Portsmouth.

The Villa News & Record of April 13, 2002 - for the clash with Leeds United - gives a real indication of how excited he was at the time of his big-money move of £4.5m.

His home debut established him as an instant Holte End hero and he was determined to live up to that billing as his claret and blue career unfolded.

Having played his first match for Villa at Bolton, just three days after his signing, the towering 21-year-old striker could hardly have imagined he would be such a big success when he stepped out at Villa Park for the first time.

Getting in front of Nicolas Dabizas, he met Gareth Barry's cross with a powerful header which earned a 1-1 draw and crowned an excellent individual performance.

He told the Villa News & Record: "It was a dream start for me. All I really wanted to do was play myself in and show everyone what I could do.

"To score like that was a massive bonus for me. I'd hit nineteen for Portsmouth and I was the third highest goalscorer in the First Division but scoring on my home debut for Villa in front of over 36,000 was a really special moment.

"I really enjoyed my time at Portsmouth but I felt the time was right to move to a bigger club - and they don't come much bigger than Aston Villa."

Unfortunately, Crouch failed to hold down a regular place the following term and ended up being loaned to Norwich City the next campaign for three months between September 2003 and December 2003.

He proved popular with fans at Carrow Road and was even awarded a championship medal at the end of the season for his contribution to their title tilt.

But he returned to David O'Leary's Villa over the festive period and started scoring freely.

He bagged a brace at Leicester in a 5-0 win, a goal at Bolton in a 2-2 draw and a late winner at Middlesbrough in a 2-1 victory but still ended up being sold to Southampton in July 2004.

He had scored six goals in thirty-seven top-flight games for Villa.

He was somewhat of a cult hero at Villa for his cultured touch despite a high height but it never quite worked out for him.

Crouch finally took to life in the Premier League on the south-coast, scoring twelve goals in twenty-seven games but he couldn't prevent Southampton's relegation.

Crouch became a favourite at Liverpool after joining the Rafalution in July 2005.

Many questioned Rafa Benitez's decision to pay Southampton approximately £7m for a player whose career had seen him jump around the Football League.

An incredible 19 games without a goal after arriving at Anfield did little to ease concerns, though in this time the Kop caught a glimpse of something that made Crouch stand out - and it wasn't just his 6ft 7 frame.

Despite being one of the tallest players ever to pull on a red jersey, the likeable frontman possessed an assured touch and a work ethic second only perhaps to teammate Dirk Kuyt. It didn't take long for the faithful to devise the humorous "He's big, he's red, his feet stick out the bed" chant.

After breaking his duck with a brace against Wigan (the first of which had to go to the dubious goals panel after a freak deflection), the goals started to flow.

One of the most memorable was a winner in a fifth round FA Cup tie against Manchester United in January 2006.

The Reds went on to win the competition in Cardiff, with Crouch getting the assist for Liverpool's second against West Ham.

The start of the 2006-07 season saw him head the winner in the Community Shield triumph over Chelsea.

A broken nose sustained versus Sheffield United interrupted his second season on Merseyside, though he did go on to net his first club hat-trick against Arsenal in March 2007- one with his left foot, one with his right and another with his head.

Crouch was named as a substitute in the 2007 Champions League final in Athens, coming on for Javier Mascherano with 12 minutes to go.

His introduction wasn't enough to spark another comeback.

The arrival of Fernando Torres at Anfield meant first-team starts were becoming more difficult to come by.

Despite being offered a new contract in the spring of 2008, Crouch decided the time was right to move on.

It was Portsmouth who eventually won the race for his signature in July 2008.

The other stars to have played for both clubs are Bert Goode, Sam Hardy, Jimmy Harrop, Tommy Gardner, Gordon Hodgson, Dave Hickson, Tony Hateley, Ian Ross, Alun Evans, Mark Walters, Steve McMahon, Steve Staunton, Ray Houghton, Dean Saunders, Stan Collymore, David James, Oyvind Leonhardsen, Patrik Berger, Brad Friedel, Stephen Warnock, Emile Heskey, Milan Baros, Scott Carson, Peter Crouch, Stewart Downing and Robbie Keane.

In addition, Gerard Houllier was manager of both clubs, while Kevin MacDonald was coach at Villa and player at Liverpool.

Check out our club connections picture gallery looking at Peter Crouch's time at Villa and Liverpool.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 27th March 2013
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