Crouch confident in Spurs squad
He has done more than anyone to take Tottenham into the Champions League group stages, yet Peter Crouch insists his European dream has only just begun.
After scoring the goal that secured Tottenham's fourth spot in the Premier League at Manchester City back in May, Crouch went on to seal his side's place in the Champions League group stages with a hat-trick in the qualifying round against Young Boys of Berne, having been dropped for the 3-2 defeat in the first leg.
Now he is targeting more heroics and having proved his worth as a top level European performer by scoring at a rate of a goal every other game in the competition during his days at Liverpool, the 6' 7" striker is determined to grasp the moment as Harry Redknapp's men prepare to make their Champions League bow against Werder Bremen on Tuesday night.
"I was a part of Liverpool side that got to the 2007 Champions League final and the quality in the Tottenham dressing room right now is a match for the team we had at Anfield three years ago," believes Crouch, who is expected to shake off a back injury to start in Germany.
"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves by saying we can get to the final or anything like that because we have only just qualified for the group stages for the first time, but I firmly believe we are good enough to enjoy a good run in this competition. We just have to believe in ourselves if we are to make the most of this opportunity.
"With the final being held at Wembley this season, it would be great for an English team to get there and there's no reason why Spurs cannot have a good go at making it happen. We have plenty of players in our squad who are capable of doing some damage in this competition."
The presence of a proven Champions League goalscorer in the Tottenham ranks as they attempt to deal with their first night nerves is a massive bonus for Harry Redknapp and his team, with Crouch insisting his team-mates should banish the notion that the new-boys will need time to find their feet among Europe's finest.
"From the moment I walked into the Tottenham dressing room, I was convinced this team were seriously under-achieving and what we have done in the last few months proved that was the case," states the striker. "Harry [Redknapp] has got this squad playing with a lot of belief and he should take a lot of credit for our progress, but none of us are satisfied just because we have got to the group stages as we all believe there is a lot more to come for us in the Champions League.
"Getting this far is obviously a massive achievement because the top four have been established in England for a good few years now and we did well to break that, but the idea of playing sides like Barcelona and Inter Milan is what the fans and all the players want now. We shouldn't be afraid of it, we should go into this competition believing in ourselves."
The cynics scoffed at Crouch's comments that he was hoping to draw some of the top sides in European football in the group stages, but he insists it was confidence and not arrogance that inspired those boasts.
"When I said we wanted to draw some of the big names in this group stage, I wasn't just looking for a few nice nights to liven up our season, as we are good enough to back ourselves against the best teams in Europe," he insists. "There will not be too many sides in our group who will relish coming to White Hart Lane because the place is going to be bouncing on European nights.
"We also have a squad full of match-winning players. We probably have the best strike force in the Premier League in terms of depth, with four international forwards battling for two places and the strength in depth throughout the squad is fantastic. Harry has built up a squad that is strong enough to cope with the Champions League and players like Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale and Ledley King are more than good enough to play in the biggest competition.
"Players like Lennon and Bale could take this competition by storm because they were a big part of our success last season and they are more than capable of giving any defender a real problem. It will be a test for them to prove they can do it in the Champions League, but I have no doubt they will come through with flying colours."
While battles with Dutch champions FC Twente and a couple of mouth-watering clashes against European kings Inter Milan will test Tottenham's Champions League credentials to the full in the weeks ahead, the striker who will be carrying a bulk of their attacking threat seems inspired rather than intimidated by his return to Europe's elite set.