As England prepare for Turkey, Peter Crouch looks back on U20 World Cup experience
Peter Crouch has urged England U20s to enjoy every second of this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Turkey.
The Stoke City striker was part of the Young Lions group who travelled to the U20 World Cup in Nigeria in 1999.
And with U20s Head Coach Peter Taylor and his squad currently preparing for this year’s competition, Crouch has recalled the effect and experience that 1999 had on his career.
He revealed: “I’m so glad I did it, it was a great experience.
“Being part of a big tournament like the World Cup, albeit the U20s, was a great experience and I enjoyed it.
“The atmosphere was something I hadn’t experienced before, there were packed out stadiums and as an 18-year-old, it was great.”
England were managed by Chris Ramsey for that trip and he will be going back to the competition as Taylor’s assistant this time.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a successful World Cup for England but Crouch says the atmosphere and organisation of the competition prepared him for the two senior World Cups of 2006 and 2010 which he featured in.
He explained: “We were going into the unknown, I had never been to Africa - let alone Nigeria - and the fans were crazy, it was a great experience.
“You could tell that they were so pleased to have it there and it was a huge deal for them. The atmosphere in the stadiums was mental, but it was great and good to be a part of.
“The shock of arriving and people welcoming you - I don’t think we really realised how big it was until we got there, but all the lads embraced it and it probably stood a lot of us in good stead for the future.”
Taylor has selected his 21-man squad for the trip to Turkey, which sees them face Iraq, Chile and Egypt in their group.
They have been training at St. George’s Park this week before travelling to their base in Antalya next Wednesday.
It's a relatively young squad for the competition and Crouch advises the players involved to try and use the competition to aid their careers.
Crouch has 42 senior caps for the Three Lions and was joined in 1999 by Ashley Cole, who recently won his 100th senior cap, and Andrew Johnson who picked up eight caps.
“It might be their first tournaments, but what I would say is go and enjoy it, that’s what I did,” explained the former Spurs and Liverpool star.
“Quite a few of that squad have gone on to play for England and at a high level, Ashley Cole was out there, Andy Johnson, and Matt Etherington too, who I’ve spoken with about it since joining Stoke.
“If you get to play, you don’t know if you’re going to play in another one, so you want to leave everything there, do your best and try to appreciate it.
“Obviously the games are the most important things so you prepare right, make sure you’re ready for them and just enjoy it.”
Speaking to FIFA.com ahead of the U20 World Cup, which starts later this month, Crouch spoke of the importance of international development teams.
As well as the U20s World Cup, Crouch also featured with England U18s and it’s something he feels has helped him throughout his career both domestically and with the Three Lions.
“Club football and international football are so different, but having been part of the youth set-up I definitely think helps,” he admits.
“Of those three players, all apart from Matty Etherington, who has been very unlucky, have gone on to represent the full squad and I think it’s no coincidence.
“It prepares you well for tournament football.”