Crouch: Liverpool long way from Dulwich Hamlet

Liverpool striker Peter Crouch admits he's come a long way from non-league football at Dulwich Hamlet.

The England international told liverpoolfc.tv: "When I am training with all these top players for Liverpool and England, I don't feel out of place. I feel part of it and worthy of being there. But at the same time I know it's been a long road for me to get to where I am and I'll never, ever forget that.

"Players like Steve Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen, they were always going to make it from the youngest age. Their careers were almost mapped out for them as soon as they started playing.

"Their talent was obvious and it must come as second nature for them to play in the biggest games. But for me it has never been quite so easy.

"I loved it out there against Inter, I really did, every single second. I love those nights, that emotion of European football. But I remember too that when I was younger I was playing a different kind of European football."

Crouch is referring to his spell with Swedish part-time side IFK Hasselholm, who he joined on loan from first club Tottenham Hotspur.

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The frontman had to find his own way to Sweden, wash his own kit and cook his own meals to chisel out an existence with a bunch of other young hopefuls on a housing estate the locals called 'The Ghetto'.

He explained: "Being Sweden, it wasn't too bad. I don't suppose it was the same notion of a ghetto that we had in south-west London. But when I went to Hasselholm the players asked me where I was staying and when I told them they were shocked.

"It was pretty rough and it was a pretty tough standard of football too, very physical for a young lad who was still trying to catch up with myself and my growing rate. But I loved it, I had a fantastic time out there.

"I was at Dulwich Hamlet too around that time in the Isthmian League and it was a million miles away from the lifestyle Premier League footballers have these days.

"In Sweden, a bunch of us used to live in digs in the 'ghetto', go out together, learn together, laugh together and I reckon it taught me a lot."

From Spurs, the 6ft 7in striker enjoyed spells at QPR, Portsmouth, Aston Villa and Southampton before a dream move to Merseyside at the age of 24.

He reflected: "I think where I came from helped me. I'm not knocking those players who were always going to be big stars but I think I can keep my feet on the ground and appreciate what I have because of those days in Sweden and Dulwich.

"There's no doubt it helped me so much to develop my career, both physically and emotionally. I am a better person and a better player for it. It toughened me up mentally, but also gave me a good perspective.

"It makes me appreciate what I have. I had a long, hard road to get where I am.

"But I want to keep going, I want to win the Champions League this year, I want to break England scoring records. I want to continue that journey and I know I will."

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