Former England striker Peter Crouch says he felt “degraded” during his final season as a player when he became “a head on a stick”.
Crouch, 38, retired in July after 21 years as a professional, scoring 108 top-flight goals and winning 42 caps.
“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,” said Crouch.
“[But] I felt like I was becoming the stereotype I always tried to avoid.”
Talking in episode one of season three of That Peter Crouch Podcast, he added: “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.”
- Listen to the new series of That Peter Crouch Podcast via BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 5 Live
Former Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Stoke striker Crouch, whose contract came to an end at Burnley in June, opens up in the podcast about the struggles of retirement.
Crouch discusses how important it is to have personal goals and explains how things can become difficult for ex-footballers otherwise.
He said: “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.”
‘Definitely a problem for retired players’
Podcast regulars Chris Stark and Tom Fordyce also return and Crouch is asked whether there is a lack of support for players once they retire, what he misses most in football and why he owes a lot to Clarets boss Sean Dyche.
“There’s definitely a problem – there isn’t enough help for players,” he said. “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 miss the day to day of football. I miss going in and belly laughing every day with your mates, kicking the ball about, getting a sweat on, having a great lunch and going home. It’s a great job.
“[Dyche] has a tough exterior, but I’ve found him to be such a top man. 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.”