Peter Crouch insists Sergio Aguero’s iconic goal is the top-flight’s best game changing performance


What makes the Premier League so universally adored is the sheer volume of jaw-dropping performances fans are treated – the memories of which still stay with us decades on. 

Young and old, there is a fascination with the English top-flight across the world that is born of the gut-wrenching drama and ecstasy that we are spoiled by on a weekly basis.

As a celebration of some of the all-time game changers in Premier League history, Castrol has put together a six-man shortlist, containing the likes of Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, David De Gea, Robert Huth and Diomansy Kamara. 

Peter Crouch, an icon of the top-flight and the veteran of a few game-changing performances of his own, has given his verdict on the most crucial performances in the last 30 years – and only one stands out above the rest.

Peter Crouch was tasked by Castrol with picking out the best game changing performance from the last 30 years in the Premier League

Sergio Aguero scored one of the most iconic goals in Premier League history against QPR

Sergio Aguero scored one of the most iconic goals in Premier League history against QPR 

‘The Sergio Aguero goal for me. I don’t think you can beat that,’ Crouch says simply, and he need not expand on which of the Argentine legend’s 184 strikes he is referring to.

And the ex-England star has a point. It takes something beyond special to usurp the likes of Henry and Rooney as the definitive game-changer, but that is what Aguero produced on May 13, 2012. It simply couldn’t have been written better, and there is no doubt that it changed the Premier League forever.

Manchester City secured their first Premier League title on goal difference, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were denied a second crown on the trot. It was not only a last minute winner, but a last minute winner that snatched the title from the arch-enemy by the cruelest of margins.

In many ways it is the perfect football moment, let alone the greatest game-changing performance. There was a palpable release of the jeopardy, apprehension, and hope that had faded and rekindled countless times in the last 93 minutes and 19 seconds – the raw emotion that makes football so addictive. 

‘Thierry Henry had some wonderful moments of his own in the game, but Aguero’s goal is the one that everyone remembers. It doesn’t matter if you were born in the 1970s or the 2000s, that’s the moment, with that commentary, that’s so iconic, and it set Manchester City on their way really to what they’ve gone on to achieve.’

Aguero sealed Manchester City’s first ever Premier League title with a strike in the 93rd minute on the final day of the 2011-12 season

Thierry Henry had several moments of individual brilliance including a hat-trick against Liverpool at Highbury in the Invincible season

Thierry Henry had several moments of individual brilliance including a hat-trick against Liverpool at Highbury in the Invincible season

Castrol’s shortlist of game changers is dominated by goals; Henry’s hat-trick against Liverpool to protect the Invincible record, Diomansy Kamara’s brace over Man City, even Leicester’s title-winning centre-back Robert Huth makes the cut by virtue of two set-piece goals against City in that unlikeliest of seasons.

It is only De Gea that is remembered for his exploits in keeping the ball out of the net, rather than focusing on putting it in there, despite the monolithic titans at the back we’ve seen in the last three decades.

‘I think everyone remembers goals,’ Crouch smirks, perhaps unsurprising given the 108 he managed in the Premier League. ‘Of course there’s defenders and goalkeepers who have had dominant performances, but it’s always the goals that you remember, and that’s why we watch football.’

It is with a touch of irony then that Crouch picks out a legendary defender as one of the greatest he shared a pitch with in his own long career at the top level of the English game with seven different clubs.

Still yet to grace the Premier League stage, Crouch came up against an Arsenal side littered with world-beating names in the FA Cup leading the line for a QPR side set for a disastrous afternoon at Loftus Road.

‘I remember it was a baptism of fire for me,’ he recalls. ‘I played my first game against Premier League opposition against the Invincible team.

Crouch came up against an Arsenal side boasting the likes of legends Tony Adams (L) and Ray Parlour (R)

Crouch came up against an Arsenal side boasting the likes of legends Tony Adams (L) and Ray Parlour (R)

The English striker would go on to score 108 goals in the Premier League in a long career in the top-flight

The English striker would go on to score 108 goals in the Premier League in a long career in the top-flight

‘I was a 19-year-old kid thinking “they’ll put out a weaker team”, and then I see Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Ashley Cole and Robert Pires, and I just thought “if this is the standard of the Premier League, I’m going to stay where I am thanks!”

‘Adams is the one that schooled me, he gave me a lesson in defending. Whenever I thought I had time to receive the ball, he would nip in front of me, whenever I thought I could back into him he would just come over the top of me. At one point I put my arm out to hold him off and he was just gone.

‘He just had everything that a defender should have that day and it was a lesson that stood me in good stead really, because not everybody was as good as Tony Adams.’

At the time, Adams was approaching the zenith of his long and illustrious career. The Gunners stalwart had entered his 34th year and was captaining a side littered with world-beating names to a 6-0 win over Crouch’s QPR in the FA Cup. 

It is the sort of performance you expect from someone who has already asserted themselves on the biggest stages – but now and again we bear witness to the moment a legend is born.

On October 19 2002, Wayne Rooney erupted onto the scene with a stunning goal that would end Arsenal’s 30-game unbeaten streak, giving his Everton side a 2-1 win in the 89th minute with a stunning, curling, dipping effort from 25 yards. He would turn 17 five days later.

Wayne Rooney erupted onto the scene with a stunning goal five days before his 17th birthday

Wayne Rooney erupted onto the scene with a stunning goal five days before his 17th birthday

The future England and Man United skipper is one of only four players to have scored over 200 goals in the Premier League

The future England and Man United skipper is one of only four players to have scored over 200 goals in the Premier League 

Crouch and Rooney played together 19 times for England including at two different World Cups

Crouch and Rooney played together 19 times for England including at two different World Cups

‘Everyone in football knew (that he was special),’ Crouch explains. ‘I remember watching him in an FA Youth Cup final against Aston Villa, and that was an unbelievable team, but the only threat I remember hearing about was Wayne Rooney.

‘I think it’s the belief that he had (in his own abilities), and the moment he scored that iconic goal – that was the announcement of Wayne Rooney, and he was such a special player.’ 

Few seasoned veterans of the game would have taken on the strike that would make Rooney the youngest ever Premier League goalscorer at the time with a point against the recently crowned champions in the bag.

But rather than soar off into row Z at Goodison Park, it clattered in off the bar. Fast-forward 207 more goals and England’s record striker left the competition as a player that Crouch believes perhaps does not get the acclaim he deserves.

‘I got the chance to play with him and I think he’s probably not celebrated enough. In this country I don’t think we celebrate our own as much as we should. I think if he was a foreign player coming to the Premier League we’d talk about him as if he was the best player we’ve ever seen.

‘But for whatever reason we don’t appreciate him enough – he’s one of the most naturally gifted footballers I’ve ever seen.’

The Premier League changed football in England; the universal coverage and the money and superstardom that come with it have turned the top-flight into one of the most financially lucrative commodities in the world.

Bukayo Saka is one of a number of young starlets excelling themselves in the Premier League

Bukayo Saka is one of a number of young starlets excelling themselves in the Premier League

Phil Foden has already won the Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup despite his young age

Phil Foden has already won the Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup despite his young age

However, as much as the next 30 years will likely bring changes of their own, the Premier League will be left in good hands, with the latest crop of young starlets sure to be competing for the title of best game changing moment when we come to celebrate 60 years of the English top-flight.

‘There’s amazing young players (in the Premier League) – it feels like Phil Foden’s been around forever, he’s won everything and we don’t even see him as young anymore!

‘What Bukayo Saka’s doing now, he’s Young Player of the Season for me, but we shouldn’t forget how good Foden is.

‘There’s some great young players coming through – Garnacho emerging as well – there’s so many players that we can hang our hopes on.’

Peter Crouch was speaking to Sportsmail at a special event as Castrol celebrate some of the best game changing performances of the last 30 years in the Premier League. Have your say on the best moment from the last three decades HERE.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk