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Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Crouch's giant stride
Crouch scored his first goal for England U-21
Crouch scored his first goal for England U-21
Peter Crouch reflected on an "unbelievable" spell in his career after helping England under-21s achieve a winning start in the European Championships.

Crouch scored the winner in England's 2-1 win against the hosts Switzerland in Zurich to leave David Platt's squad in buoyant mood before Monday's crucial clash against Italy.

  Photo Gallery: England's win in pictures

It caps a golden spell for 6 ft 7 in striker Crouch, who sealed a 5m move from Portsmouth to Aston Villa near the end of the season and swiftly confirmed his promise at Villa Park.

He admitted: "It's been an unbelievable few months for me. To be honest, I didn't know I was going to be coming to the championships, and to be in the side for the first game was a proud moment for me, and obviously to get my first England goal was another proud moment.

"At one point in the season, I was playing for Portsmouth and it was touch and go whether we were going to get relegated or not.

Defoe was also on target for England against the Swiss
"Obviously the move to Villa came about, which was a superb move to a massive club.

"I've really settled in there and I've also settled in with the under-21s as well.

"It has been a massive change, but it has come about at the right time and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Crouch, whose striker partner Jermain Defoe was also on target, is looking forward to taking on an Italian defence which, despite its youth, will give him the traditional Azzuri welcome.

"They like to stay tight and maybe pull a shirt here and there," he said. "It's something that's different in international football.

"It was the same against Switzerland. There were a lot of fouls given away that maybe in the Premier League they wouldn't have pulled you up on.

I just get on with my job on the pitch and I've had a lot of nice things said about me as well, so I take the positives out of it and leave the negatives alone
England under-21 striker Peter Crouch
"It was hard. Obviously I was getting frustrated, but you've got to get on with your job.

"In international football if you lose your rag they're pretty quick to send you off, so you've got to keep cool.

"I'll play my own game. If the referee is as picky as he was last night, you've got to try to curb it a little bit, which I did try to do, but it's extremely hard when you've got a referee like that."

Crouch admits he will be singled out for attention - and scorn - because of his giant, stick-like physique.

But he said: "I've been tall all my life, so I've had my critics always.

"I always had it at school, so I'm used to it and to be honest, it doesn't affect me one bit.

"I just get on with my job on the pitch and I've had a lot of nice things said about me as well, so I take the positives out of it and leave the negatives alone."

BBC Five Live's Mike Sewell
"England's decisiveness was the difference"
England Under-21 boss David Platt
"We were mentally very strong"
England player David Prutton
"Overall we deserved it"
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