Peter Crouch is well aware that not every footballer is going to match his heading ability.
But there are some teammates he referred to as ‘turtles’ – players who would go out of their way not to head it.
And one of those players was Maxim Choupo-Moting, a player who, according to Crouch, wasn’t willing to put his head on the line when Stoke City’s Premier League status was in doubt.
Crouch said in the latest edition of his podcast: “It’s obvious to everyone if someone doesn’t fancy it, that they’ll go up and go, ‘Oh, I just can’t quite get there…’
“It’s the turtle neck, it goes back into the shell. Instead of extending your neck it goes back into your shell. I know a turtle when I see one.
“We had a player at Stoke, Choupo-Moting, a fantastic player. So much ability.
“He was 6ft 4in and he could dominate a centre-half if he wanted to but with that technique and flair that he had, I just felt that he didn’t want to head the ball, really.”
Choupo-Moting was brought in during the summer of 2017 as a free agent to fill the big boots of Marko Arnautovic, who had been the talisman of Mark Hughes’s team the previous season.
It transpired to be a dreadful piece of recruitment, even if his first two home games were a 1-0 win over Arsenal and a 2-2 draw with Manchester United, when he scored both goals – including a header, which showed he could do it when he wanted.
His last contribution was scoring in a 2-1 home defeat to Everton in March, taking a knock in the process. There were seven games remaining but he refused painkilling injections to be a part of the fight.
At the age of 29, he was released by mutual consent that summer with two years remaining on his contract – so that he could sign for money bags Paris St Germain later that day.
Crouch said: “There was one particular game against West Ham, it was a big deal for us, we were down at the bottom.
“I remember flicking it on down the line and he was up front with me. I was shouting to get closer to me and he was going, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ He kept saying, ‘Yeah’ and then not doing it. I was saying, ‘What’s up?’
“A centre-half or full-back for West Ham at the time, he said, ‘Crouchy I need to speak to you. I know him from my time in Germany and he’s crazy.’
“I couldn’t get my head around it.”