Longtime Premier League striker Peter Crouch retires

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At 38 years old, Peter Crouch has finally decided to call time on his career, hanging up his boots after a fabulous 19-year career that saw him attain numerous highs. Literally.

Crouch, known for his height and the finishing abilities that came with it, came up through the Tottenham youth system, but never made it initially with the London club, instead making his professional debut in the Championship (then known as the First Division) in 2000 with Queens Park Rangers. He went on to play for Portsmouth before making his Premier League debut with Aston Villa in 2002.

Eventually, the journeyman would play for Norwich City, Southampton, and Liverpool before returning to Tottenham in 2009 to play two full seasons at his boyhood club. At Liverpool, Crouch would reach the Champions League final in 2007, a game where Rafa Benitez decided to leave Crouch on the bench instead of start him despite his contribution of six goals during the European campaign, a decision which Crouch has admitted is still a difficult memory as the Reds fell 2-1 to AC Milan.

After leaving Spurs in 2012, Crouch would spend eight seasons at Stoke City, by far his longest spell at any club. He left Stoke City this past winter after 202 Premier League appearances with the Potters, playing the last half of the season at Burnley before calling time on his career.

All told, Crouch made 467 Premier League appearances across his career, scoring 106 goals and popularizing his robot dance celebration. He would also attain 42 caps for the England national team, scoring 22 goals for the country, including his only World Cup goal in 2006 against Trinidad & Tobago. He also appeared as a substitute in the 2010 World Cup, including a 12-minute substitute appearance against the United States in the opening group stage game. Oddly enough, Crouch never appeared in a Euro match for England, as the country did not qualify for Euro 2008, the only competition that took place during the meat of his international career.

In his retirement announcement, an article with the Daily Mail, Crouch says he had hoped to play until he was 40 but said “circumstances over the last couple of seasons have made me realize that this is the right thing to do.”

Crouch admitted in his announcement he had grown weary of being a late-game bench option. “I will be 39 in January but I am physically fit and could have carried on. What I didn’t want to be was someone who was thrown on to have balls smashed up to them.”

Still, the Spurs youth product says he never could have dreamed where his career would take him.

“Football has opened up avenues that I never thought were possible when I started scoring goals in the Hayes and District league as an Under 10. Football, simply, made my dreams come true. I think back to when I was 17. I was a trainee at Tottenham then but there were 10 forwards in front of me, blocking my route to the first team. They loaned me out to Dulwich Hamlet then I went to IFK Hassleholm in Sweden. Let’s be honest – you would not have taken odds on me making it then. If you had told me at that point I would go on to play for England 42 times and score 22 goals, play for Liverpool in a Champions League and FA Cup final and score the goal that put Tottenham back in the European Cup for the first time in four decades, I would have had you locked up.”

Crouch, known for his beaming smile and happy-go-lucky attitude, has built a strong off-the-field image and seems primed for a strong post-football media career. He has built a brand with his self-titled podcast and regular written appearances in the Daily Mail.

Pulisic explains his superb form during ‘Project Restart’

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In an interview with Sky Sports, Christian Pulisic has explained the reason behind his superb form during ‘Project Restart’ as the USMNT winger has been one of the best players in the Premier League since action returned in June.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – Analysis ]

Pulisic, 21, has scored three goals, won two penalty kicks and has consistently been Man of the Match for Chelsea as Frank Lampard’s side push for a top four finish and the FA Cup.

Speaking to our partners in the UK Sky Sports, Pulisic was asked what he did during the Premier League’s suspension to bring out his best form. Turns out his trip back home to Hershey, Pennsylvania was very, very helpful.

“I had that first game on my mind. I was really hungry the whole time to get back and get back on the field. I was training hard and I’m really happy now to be able to make an impact,” Pulisic said. “I was able to get some work in back in the States, as well, and be able to continue to work on my game but also rehabbing and making sure I was 100 per cent fit and ready to go. So during a really tough time for a lot of people, that was the one positive thing that I could do for myself.”

The full interview is definitely worth your time as it is chocked full of stats, graphics and more from Pulisic about his stunning form since the Premier League returned.

Asked once again about the comparisons between himself and Chelsea legend Eden Hazard, Pulisic brushed them aside and stated he will not change the way he plays.

“I’m really happy I can do that as of recent and my style is always going to continue to be that very attacking-minded and creative kind of player. I’m happy I can help the team any way I can,” Pulisic added. “I want to be a part of this team. Every day in training I work hard because I want to start and I want to be on the field and I want to create goals and I want to score goals. That’s where I want to be. I want to continue to make a big impact every week and every game.”

Alongside Bruno Fernandes from Manchester United, Pulisic has been the main man in the Premier League throughout June and July.

USMNT fans everywhere are salivating as they watch the Pennsylvanian Messi rip it up for Chelsea on a weekly basis. Long may that continue.

Chelsea’s Gilmour, Liverpool’s Henderson out for season

Chelsea Billy Gilmour
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Chelsea star Billy Gilmour and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson have both been ruled out for lengthy periods due to serious knee injuries.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

Gilmour, 19, has undergone surgery after the right knee injury he suffered against Crystal Palace was much worse than previously feared.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard confirmed that Gilmour could be out for up to four months.

“Billy had an operation on his knee [Friday] morning, we estimate he will be out for between three and four months unfortunately. I’m very disappointed, as we all are here,” Lampard said. “He’s a tough boy, it hit him hard especially as a young boy who has just made a breakthrough. I told him he should be very pleased with what he’s done and the impact he’s had this season anyway. His attitude will get him back as quickly as he can.”

Gilmour has slotted in superbly in his debut Premier League season as the “Irn-Bru Iniesta” looks a star in the making due to his composure and creativity on the ball in central midfield.

Henderson
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As for a player at the opposite end of his career, Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson is also out for the rest of the season but he could be back for the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

Henderson, 30, suffered the injury in a tackle with Yves Bissouma in Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Brighton on Tuesday.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Liverpool feared the worst but Henderson doesn’t need surgery and although he will miss the rest of this season, he could be back for the start of the 2020-21 season.

“Hendo is actually really the best possible of all the bad news. It is a knee injury, but no surgery needed,” Klopp said. “He will not play anymore in the latter stage of this season but I am pretty positive he will start with us the new season. We were all concerned in the moment we saw him in going down and when he left the pitch and stuff like this. Yesterday when we got the news, it was a big relief for all of us. It is not cool, obviously, but it is the best we could get. Hendo will be back; he is a quick healer and he will be back soon.”

Liverpool also confirmed that Henderson will lift the Premier League trophy as planned as his imperious displays from central midfield have been a hallmark of their incredible season.

It is now time for Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to get some extra minutes, with Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho mainstays in central midfield.

Champions League, Europa League draw: Schedule, how to watch

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The Champions League schedule is set as the draw for the UCL and Europa League has been made and below you will find all the details you need and how to watch in the USA.

 [ LIVE: Champions League scores

Draws for the quarterfinals and semifinals of both competitions were made in Switzerland by UEFA on Friday, as the 2019-20 season competitions will conclude with special mini-tournaments with one-legged games from this point.

Big boys are about to collide as the Champions League schedule is set.

Man City will face either Lyon or Juventus if they can maintain their first leg lead over Real Madrid, while Chelsea will face either Napoli or Barcelona if they overturn a 3-0 deficit against Bayern Munich.

Man United and Wolves will collide in the semifinals of the Europa League if they make it that far.

The Champions League quarterfinals, semifinals and final will all be played in Lisbon, Portugal. While the Europa League will be played in four venues across Germany.

Champions League draw

Dates: August 7-23
Location: Round of 16 at home venues; Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: Here at NBCSports.com

Round of 16
Friday, August 7: Manchester City v. Real Madrid (2-1)
Friday, August 7: Juventus v. Lyon (0-1)
Saturday, August 8: Barcelona v. Napoli (1-1)
Saturday, August 8: Bayern Munich v. Chelsea (3-0)

Quarterfinals (August 12-15)
1. Manchester City/Real Madrid v. Lyon/Juventus
2. RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid
3. Napoli/Barcelona v. Chelsea/Bayern Munich
4. Atalanta v. Paris Saint-Germain

Semifinals (August 18/19)
1. Winner quarterfinal 1 v. Winner quarterfinal 3
2. Winner quarterfinal 2 v. Winner quarterfinal 4

Final
Sunday, August 23: Winner semifinal 1 v. Winner semifinal 2

Europa League draw

Dates: August 5-21
Location: Round of 16 at home venues; Quarterfinals onwards in Duisburg, Fortuna Dusseldorf, Schalke and Cologne in Germany.
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: Here at NBCSports.com

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
Copenhagen v. Istanbul Basaksehir (0-1)
Wolves v. Olympiakos (1-1)
Bayer Leverkusen v. Rangers (3-1)
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Wolfsburg (2-1)
Basel v. Eintracht Frankfurt (0-3)
Manchester United v. LASK (5-0)
Inter Milan v. Getafe (first leg abandoned)
Sevilla v. Roma (first leg abandoned)

Quarterfinals (August 10-11)
1. Wolfsburg/Shakhtar Donetsk v. Eintracht Frankfurt/Basel
2. LASK/Manchester United v. Istanbul Basaksehir/Copenhagen
3. Inter Milan/Getafe v. Rangers/Bayer Leverkusen
4. Olympiakos/Wolves v. Sevilla/Roma

Semifinals (August 16-17)
1. Winner of quarterfinal 4 v. Winner of quarterfinal 2
2. Winner of quarterfinal 3 v. Winner of quarterfinal 1

Final
Friday, August 21: Winner semifinal 1 v. Winner semifinal 2

Report: USMNT keeper Steffen to be Man City No. 2 next season

Zack Steffen Man City
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United States men’s national team starting goalkeeper Zack Steffen will not be loaned by Manchester City next season, according to ESPN.

Steffen, 25, is set to back up Ederson for Pep Guardiola’s side next season after a year on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga.

Steffen needed the loan because he had not yet qualified for a work permit in the United Kingdom. Instead, he starred in plenty of games for promoted Fortuna before suffering a nagging knee injury. Fortuna was relegated to 2.Bundesliga on the final day of the season.

[ MORE: Man City sets a very Pep record ]

There were rumors earlier this year that Claudio Bravo might head for New York City FC in MLS in order to make way for Steffen.

The 17-times capped USMNT bolted for Freiburg in Germany after making his name at the University of Maryland. He returned to the U.S. and became a star with savvy penalty-stopping ability with now-USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter and the Columbus Crew.

Guardiola has usually given his No. 2 plenty of time to shines in cup matches, and City expects to compete for every trophy it can. If the club’s European ban is upheld, however, there will far fewer matches on the schedule for the serial Champions League qualifier.