Peter Crouch faces the wrath of family if he shines at Anfield
Peter Crouch is on a warning from his wife's family not to do anything to damage Liverpool's Premier League title chances when Burnley visit Anfield today.
"I've had a few people on already, and I don't even know if they're joking or not," he says. "They're basically saying: 'Don't be doing anything stupid like scoring.' I've got a lot of friends in the area as well. I was up there last week and a few people were telling me: 'Don't expect to be able to come back if you do score.' "
Crouch was a Liverpool player when he met his wife, the model and television personality Abbey Clancy, in the mid-2000s; in the past, the former England striker has illustrated her lack of interest in football by recounting how she would call him at 2.45pm on a Saturday, having forgotten he was about to play a match.
Most of the rest of the Clancy family, though, are rather more invested in this lunchtime's events at Anfield. Having played for Liverpool in a Champions League final, Crouch fully understands that passion.
"I know what it means to the city, having been up there," he says. "I was actually at the game when Raheem Sterling scored [for Liverpool against Manchester City in April 2014] in the year they didn't quite get over the line. Just after that, it felt like that was it. The whole city felt they were going to win the league that year.
"Obviously it was not to be but you can see how much it means to them, being so close. Last season, they were so far behind Manchester City that even if they finished second this time, it would be a fantastic season. But now they are so close and I know what it would mean.
"I've got to do my job and do what's right for Burnley. It was a long time ago that I was at Liverpool. But listen, I'd love them to win the league. I hope we can get a result ourselves but that Liverpool can still go on and do it."
Crouch's Premier League career looked to be at an end when his club, Stoke City, were relegated last May. The chance for one last chance in the top flight, at the age of 38, came as a welcome surprise.
"I know I won't be starting every single game, but I still feel fit and healthy and love it, which is the main thing," he says. "If I could help and score a few goals towards the end of the season in the next eight or nine games, then who knows what can happen?
"I'm not looking at next season yet. I've got a contract until the end of the season and I'll be doing everything I can to get another."
These are busy times for Crouch as he shuttles between Lancashire and the family home in Surrey. On the work front, he appears well set for a successful media career if he wants one; his autobiography received positive reviews when it came out last autumn, and he has a popular BBC podcast up and running too. On the home front, his wife is pregnant with their fourth child. Is this really a good time to be considering a move to coaching? Crouch will not rule it out.
"I did a couple of things media-wise and they went really well, so I just carried on doing them," he says. "I'm not the type of person to go backpacking for two years.
"I want to stay in football and I want to do something straight away, so as soon as I do retire, I'll try my hand at things. So I've done my coaching badges, I've now got my 'A' licence. I've done my 'B' licence. I did a book, I've done a podcast and a few bits and pieces. I've tried my hand at both.
"I know football's not going to last forever and I'd like to go straight into doing something different. I haven't made my mind up yet. Coaching is something that appeals to me as well but the other side of it has been quite fun."
Crouch's arrival in Burnley has been part of the adventure, even if it is likely to be a short-term move.
The locals quickly took to him, with one fans welcoming the 6'7" striker by hanging a banner from a bridge near Turf Moor with the message, "Welcome Crouchie - mind your head, lad". A butcher in the town has named a sausage after him, "Crouchie's Red-Hot Robot", a reference to the former England forward's robotic dance celebration.
"The sign on the bridge was a bit of fun," Crouch says. "They're taking the piss, obviously, but it's endearing."
Crouch has brought something a little different to east Lancashire; what he has not brought yet is a goal. He is certainly due one; he had scored only twice for Stoke this season before his January move. If he does find the net at Anfield today, bearing in mind the family consequences, how will he celebrate? "It certainly won't be the dance," he says.