Peter Crouch – at a time when everyone in the football world needs some light relief at some stage – has stepped up with a guessing game.
The former Stoke City and England striker revealed on his BBC podcast earlier this year that one of his old teammates had the nickname Parched because of his tendency to sidle over during any training drinks breaks to get in a manager’s ear.
“There’s a couple of instances (where a player will constantly talk to a manager),” he said.
“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.
“It was intense.”
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 James Milner, who Crouch played alongside at Liverpool, nor ex-Tottenham Hotspur teammate Jermaine Jenas. Nor is it his old Stoke pals Steve Sidwell and Joe Allen.
And now, on this week’s episode, Crouch was pinned down on further clues – and one more Stoke player.
Chris Stark: Is Parched a turtle, a gazelle or a buffalo?
Peter Crouch: A few months ago that question would have meant nothing – but a lot of people now know.
I would say that Parched is not a turtle and I would say he has certain gazelle-like attributes and he’s definitely a buffalo.
Stark: Oooh. This is actually a big clue, isn’t it?
Crouch: He doesn’t duck out of any headers.
Stark: This piles on the pressure. What names are we all seeing being floated?
Crouch: Some are good. Some are very Parched-like but not actually Parched.
Tom Fordyce: Who can we rule out today?
Crouch: I can’t go into too many details about the traits of the animal.
Stark: I’m going to put a name out I’ve seen a lot on social media. Is Parched Glenn Whelan?
Crouch: I can confirm… that Glenn Whelan is… not Parched.
I loved doing that, I felt like Dermot O’Leary.
Stark: The reveal at the end of this is going to be something else, isn’t it?
Fordyce: That’s huge for Whelan because he’s been getting battered on social media.
Crouch: I think he’s going to really, really appreciate that.
Latest bookies’ odds on Parched: Charlie Adam 7/2, Ryan Shawcross 6/1, Glenn Whelan 6/1