Peter Crouch admitted he is considering retirement after a substitute appearance in Burnley’s final game of the season against Arsenal.
The 38-year-old former England striker joined the Clarets on a short-term deal from Stoke in January but did not start a game or score a goal and missed nearly two months following appendix surgery in March.
He returned at Turf Moor on Saturday and came on for the final 13 minutes of the 3-1 defeat.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche has spoken very positively about Crouch’s impact on and off the pitch, and a new deal could be offered, but first the forward must decide whether he wants to carry on.
Crouch sounded in a real quandary, saying: “Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s fit and retired has regretted it, and everyone who has retired has told me to play on as long as I can.
“I don’t know. I’ve had a great time. I know if I chose to play on I could because I feel fit, I train every day and, touch wood, I haven’t had many injuries, but do I want to?
“There are other things I could do and I’m quite enjoying as well. I’m going to sit down with the family and probably get told what to do.
“I’ve been playing every day for 23 years. It’s a long time and to wake up one morning and not have it will be hard.”
Crouch has forged a successful career in the media alongside playing, while his wife Abbey Clancy is due to give birth to their fourth child in the next few weeks.
Dyche said: “I chatted with him the other day. It’s not just my decision. At his age, and his intention, does he want to carry on? I’ve never been bothered by age, it’s ‘have you got that edge to your game?’ And I think he showed he has. He’s been very unfortunate.”
Burnley finished the season with three consecutive defeats but the hard work was done in the preceding weeks as they recovered from a precarious position at Christmas to secure safety.
After clinching seventh spot last season and qualifying for Europe, 15th this time could be seen as a disappointment, but Crouch has been impressed by what he has experienced and expects the Clarets to improve next term.
He said: “Personally it’s been a bit frustrating. I had an injury at the wrong time. I was looking to come here and do more. But I’ve loved every minute of being at Burnley. All the lads are fantastic, they’ve welcomed me and we’ve had good fun.
“We’ve had a good second half to the season. I think Sean Dyche is building something very good here. It reminds me a lot of Stoke when we finished in the top half three times in a row. I think this club will be top half again next season.”
Arsenal still have their biggest game of the season to come, with Champions League football at stake in the Europa League final against Chelsea later this month, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was celebrating after his two goals earned him a share of the Premier League Golden Boot.
Aubameyang ended the campaign with 22 goals, the same mark as Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Aubameyang had chances to clinch it outright, saying on arsenal.com: “It was near – but sometimes that can happen. I have to be focused on those kinds of chances, but I’m happy that we won and that I’m sharing the trophy with two other guys that I like.”
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