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Peter Crouch eager to face Real Madrid or Inter Milan

Peter Crouch put his recent troubled private life behind him to send Tottenham into the group stages of the Champions League in spectacular fashion with a famous European hat-trick, and then spoke of the relish he felt at the possibility of facing the cream of Europe.

Crouch scored the goal, at Manchester City last season, that delivered Tottenham into the play-off stages and his three in the 4-0 win over Swiss side Young Boys confirmed their place in Thursday’s Champions League group draw.

The England striker, 29, has been on the front pages for the wrong reasons in recent weeks, following an alleged relationship with a prostitute, but was concentrating only on his goals when, clutching the match-ball, he said: “We want to get Inter Milan or Real Madrid and show the fans at White Hart Lane how good we are.”

Crouch was a substitute in the Liverpool side that lost 2-1 to AC Milan in Athens in the 2007 Champions League final and he added: “You don’t know how good you are until you play against the best and now we’ve got the chance and we are looking forward to it.”

Manager Harry Redknapp refused to get carried along with the euphoria enveloping White Hart Lane but was eager to praise Crouch.

“I’m sure the reports have hurt him,” said Redknapp, “but you couldn’t meet a nicer boy than Peter Crouch. I’ve been in football a long time and he’s a top-class player. You show me a man who hasn’t made mistakes in his life and I’ll show you a liar.”

Redknapp insisted his only celebration would be modest, adding: “I’ll go home and have a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. It’s quiet in the dressing room because they are quiet lads. They’re not guzzling champagne and I don’t want them going out for a drink because I want them ready for our next game, against Wigan.”

Of the achievement in getting Spurs into the group stages of the Champions League just two years after lifting them off the foot of the Premier League, he added: “Tottenham underachieved for a long time and I thought the potential was there.

“It was about instilling some confidence and changing their attitude in some cases. They responded and finished fourth last season. It was important not to waste the opportunity but we nearly did in Switzerland where we were three down and going out.

“There have been some great nights here and to bring that atmosphere back was fantastic. But we have to keep improving and there is an awful lot to learn.”

Redknapp was expecting Jermain Defoe, who scored the first goal, to fly to Germany for a minor operation this weekend on a groin problem and though the striker wants to delay surgery the manager said: “Jermain is saying he might not need it, that he felt right out there and it was no trouble but I want him to get it done now. There’s an international break coming up and he could be back playing in three weeks.”

But goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes confirmed he would be out for ‘weeks’ rather than days after injuring his groin in the first half and though Carlo Cudicini, back after a potentially serious motorbike accident, will continue, Redknapp will sign Croation goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa on loan from Spartak Moscow later this week.

© Telegraph.co.uk


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