He is the former England international who scored goals for fun over two decades. She is the catwalk queen who won Strictly Come Dancing.
Together PETER CROUCH and ABBEY CLANCY have become one of the country’s most famous couples, characterised by their zest for life.
From the moment the Zoom meeting begins, as they munch through chocolate biscuits and drink cups of tea, they provide DOMINIC KING with an insight into their relationship.
During a discussion that involves retirement, horseracing and kitchen discos, the laughs were never far away.
Peter Crouch and Abbey Clancy are a star couple, loved in the world of football and beyond
THE LEADING ACTRESS
Crouch is the face of a new Paddy Power advert that has been launched ahead of the Cheltenham Festival. It is the second one he has done in the last year but his better half has stolen the show on each occasion.
Peter: (laughs) I knew you were going to say that! I get more comments about Abs’ little cameos than anything about me.
Abbey: Look, it’s any excuse to get out of home schooling! It was just such fun to be a part of and that’s what I like about going to work, when it is fun and a good laugh.
Pete is the expert actor and he was giving me a few directional tips on the day. ‘You’re not doing it right! Do this! Do that!’
They are part of a new Paddy Power advert ahead of the Cheltenham Festival next week
Peter: You know the first one, where she cuts me dead at the end? The look she gave me was totally natural. I’ve seen that look a million times, the eye roll.
When? Oh God! When I’m not listening to her, when there is another match on television, when there is…
Abbey: (interjects deadpan) So basically every day.
Peter: I’m a fair-weather racing fan but Cheltenham, I’m all over it. Ascot. All the big meetings.
Crouch (right) describes himself as a ‘fair-weather’ racing fan but will be ‘all over Cheltenham’
Abbey: We went to Ascot (2019), it was not long after we had our youngest baby, Jack. Frankie (Dettori) is a friend of ours. I remember arriving there and as we were going into the box, I saw Frankie. I was like, “Oh my God! What are you doing here?!” He just looked at me as if to say, “What!”
I usually just pick my horses by the colours. I lost the first race but then I saw Frankie was riding, so I started backing him — and he won four straight races!
What a great day that was.
A FOOTBALLER’S LIFE
Peter first crossed paths with Abbey shortly after he had signed for Liverpool in December 2005. She has been by his side ever since, seeing him play for England at two World Cups and win the FA Cup.
Peter: There are two different stories to how we met. I think they both need to be heard.
Abbey: When we met, my Dad was saying to me, “All my mates are going to be ripping me! You’re going out with a footballer!” Now he prefers Pete to me, I think!
Crouch and Clancy first met when the striker was playing for Liverpool back in 2005
He literally cannot do anything wrong. Everything is like, “Oh, leave the poor lad alone!” He’s on Pete’s side all the time.
We were out at a friend’s birthday party in a bar in Liverpool called Mosquito. Pete was in there and he just begged me to go out with him!
Peter: She came over to me, believe it or not! It was the first time I had scored for Liverpool, against Wigan (December 2005). It was a weight off my mind, I’d finally got a couple of goals. Then she came over to me and said, “I knew you’d score!” We just started chatting then — and she wouldn’t leave me alone (winks). Once I’d hit the dancefloor, that was it!
King: Did you go to many games or watch him much on TV?
Abbey: No! (bursts out laughing)
Clancy followed Crouch to the 2006 World Cup (pictured) but rarely watched him live
Peter: (resigned) And that’s the absolute truth, by the way. It was hard enough getting her to watch me play. To get her to watch me talk about it now? No chance!
Abbey: I’m not a football fan. My Dad (Geoff) is a huge Red. He lives and breathes Liverpool and he knows every stat. My brother, Sean, was a footballer. He played for Liverpool when he was little. He ended up playing for Fleetwood. I got dragged to football my whole life. And I hated it. I still do!
Pete: I found it funny when I walked through the door because I knew if I had scored a hat-trick and we’d won or I’d had a nightmare and we’d lost, the conversation would be the same. My mind would be off it straight away.
Sometimes we’d be watching Match of the Day and a goal of mine would come up. Abs would turn to me, “Oh you scored today?” I remember once I hit the crossbar from three or four yards out. I was absolutely devastated to have missed the chance. When I saw the replay I was still gutted.
But Abs turned to me and said, “Don’t worry. That’s amazing! It’s much, much harder to hit the bar”. And in some strange scenario, what she was saying was right. It is harder to hit the bar.
Crouch revealed that his wife would console him when he missed a big chance on the weekend
Abbey: It sounds like I am being mean but of course I am hugely respectful of what he has done and, to me, Pete is just Pete. I don’t see the superstar who has scored all these goals. He’s just so normal and down to earth. He’s just our Dad. I literally feel like I couldn’t live without him.
I appreciate football a bit more now. I love it when people get together for the World Cup and things. But if I try to watch a match, honestly, all I can see is people running around. I don’t see anything else. I don’t mind watching it — sometimes. I like watching Ronaldo.
Peter: (looking from the corner of his eye) You like watching Ronaldo, do you?
Abbey: Yeah, he’s an amazing player. He’s skilful and whatever.
Peter: (little pause) Hmm… interesting.
Peter had a successful England career… but Abbey insists she still isn’t interested in football
PLAYING TO PUNDITRY
It is almost two years since Peter played his final game. He has since established himself as a leading pundit for BT, as well as having a weekly Sportsmail column. There were moments before he called time, though, when he was consumed with doubts about the future. Abbey was the same.
Abbey: He’s lived and breathed football his whole life, so I was quite anxious about him going into retirement. But because of the podcast and his book and his column, he had this great transition where he was doing things that were different but they were also things that he loved to do.
I think he was so lucky. I know a lot of players struggle to forge a new career, so I think Pete has been really lucky with everything that he has done.
Crouch is now working in football punditry alongside his column work for Sportsmail
Peter: I feared the moment where it was going to hit me. I know it was a big possibility because friends of mine have retired before me and they had really struggled with finishing. Like, seriously struggled. So, in all honesty, I probably took on too much at first.
I was just so worried about doing nothing that I did everything and it was too much. Now I am in a good place, two years into retirement. I’m doing enough just to keep me happy and I’m having enough time at home.
Abbey: I thought you were going to say you were doing enough to keep me happy! (laughing)
King: Those final six months when he was living away at Burnley were difficult because…
Former striker Crouch spent six months with Burnley and he fine dined at a nearby hotel
Abbey: (interrupting) Erm, hang on. You do know he was staying in a hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant, don’t you? We were sat at home having fish fingers, chips and beans and he’s having the time of his life, all these three-course meals.
Peter: (sheepish) Do you know what? She rang me one night. I stayed at the Northcote Hotel, outside Blackburn, and I’d gone down for dinner. Abs calls and says, “I feel so sorry for you up there on your own”.
I was actually on my fourth course at the time, the waiter was bringing the dessert wine over and I had to tell him to be careful with the plates while I finished the conversation. What a beautiful restaurant!
The past year has provided challenges for everyone but the change of pace and being at home, after two decades in professional football, was in many ways a relief for Peter. In other ways, however, it has been a curse.
Peter: I can’t do anything now without getting stitched up.
Abbey: I very rarely post on social media but if we have a glass of wine in the kitchen on a Saturday night, there are always three or four videos on the next morning, dressed up like a character from PJ Masks or something! The kids love having discos in the kitchen.
Crouch and Clancy have been happy in lockdown and the pair take to social media regularly
I love being in our house and I love being with Pete. When he goes to work, I hate it.
Bizarrely, we haven’t had any arguments at all over the last year. We won’t mention the ‘floordrobe’ — he’s quite messy. But in the main, I’d say we have actually quite enjoyed it.
Peter: (another wink) Considering we’ve got four children, we haven’t argued. She’s not too bad, actually. She doesn’t get on my nerves…