Peter Crouch is ready to reveal the identity of his mystery teammate known only as Parched.
The former Stoke City and England striker revealed on his BBC podcast earlier this year that one of his old pals had the earned the nickname because of his tendency to sidle over during any training drinks breaks to get in a manager’s ear.
And, with the country in need of some light relief, he has told his 827,000 followers on Twitter that now is the time to lift the veil.
“Right,” he said. “Let’s reveal parched this week.”
So, who or what is Parched – and who is he not?
“There’s a couple of instances (where a player will constantly talk to a manager),” said Crouch in his first podcast of the year.
“There’s one player that will remain nameless – I’m not saying the club, when I say remain nameless they always try to get it out me – we decided to call him Parched.
“When we were doing pre-season training it was intense, really intense, and after you’ve done your running or training everyone would go over for a drink, knackered, and drink loads of water. It was roasting hot, you’d done a load of work.
“We’d look over and Parched would be sitting with the coaching staff. He’s not had a drink. Every drinks break we’ve had he’d be around the manager, chatting to him about tactics or just getting him on side.
“So the nickname Parched really suited him. Everyone knows it. I think Parched knows who Parched is. You could trust him. He was a great lad, a top man and the only real reason he got away with it was because he was a good lad and everyone liked him.”
Crouch has only given a few clues about who this player might be – and bookies have even started accepting bets while listeners speculate about the identity.
But over the last couple of months he has categorically ruled out some of the public’s leading contenders.
It’s not Liverpool’s James Milner, nor ex-Tottenham Hotspur teammate Jermaine Jenas. Nor is it his old Stoke pals Steve Sidwell, Joe Allen nor Glenn Whelan.
“I can confirm… that Glenn Whelan is… not Parched,” he said earlier this month. “I loved doing that, I felt like Dermot O’Leary.
“I think he’s going to really, really appreciate that.”
In his latest podcast, Crouch also ruled out Fulham manager Scott Parker, who he played alongside at Spurs.
Jon Walters has claimed tonight that Parched is not him either.
“If you don’t (reveal who it is), then I may have to Peter Crouch,” he wrote on Twitter. “For those that are asking – no it isn’t me!”
Parched, it turns out, has only just discovered that he is Parched too.
“I spoke to Parched recently – he called me,” said Crouch. “Do you know he didn’t actually know he was Parched?
“I just assumed that he knew but obviously not. Anyway, I’ve come clean and told him everything.
“He just asked me what is this Parched stuff that everyone keeps asking me about.
“I said: ‘Well, I’ve got some good and bad news… You’re Parched! I don’t know if there’s any good news in it!
“Anyway, he took it great.”
Crouch added: “I was chatting to him and I said: ‘I want to do a big reveal – are you up for it?’ And he said: ‘Yeah’.”
Charlie Adam and Ryan Shawcross have been leading the odds in the bookies’ short list for the mystery man.