‘Don’t forget, we are tiny Trinidad and Tobago and there is no way that the referee was going to blow that whistle and disallow the goal.’
At every World Cup there are contentious decisions, moments that define one country’s joy while plunging another nation into despair.
Italians haven’t got over referee Byron Moreno’s performance in the 2002 loss to South Korea. We still can’t comprehend how Frank Lampard’s goal wasn’t given in 2010.
For Trinidad and Tobago, this moment came at the hands of Peter Crouch at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Having just sneaked a 1-0 goal in their opening Group B game against Paraguay, Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side were looking to make a statement against minnows Trinidad and Tobago.
The Soca Warriors- 47th in the FIFA world rankings- were competing at their first World Cup.
Leo Beenhakker’s squad boasted two players from the mighty Gillingham, two players from Falkirk and four still playing their domestic football in the TT Pro League.
In short, they’d racked up plenty of air miles collectively.
Dwight Yorke and co opened their campaign with a rousing 0-0 draw against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larsson of Sweden.
But it was still expected to be a lambs to the slaughter scenario when England rolled into town. Realistically, anyone who’s watched England at a major tournament knows that’s never the case.
After 83 minutes England had panicked their way to a 0-0 draw, turning to Aaron Lennon and Stewart Downing in a bid to break the deadlock. Yep, it was that desperate. Then it happened.
David Beckham whipped in a cross, Crouch got above Brent Sancho to head past Shaka Hislop and England had their opener. Nothing controversial there, right?
Replays showed Crouch pulling on Sancho’s dreadlocks, stopping the Gillingham defender getting off the ground.
Sancho was incensed, moaning after the game: “Crouch was all over me. He was definitely pulling me back and that meant I couldn’t get to him.
“But don’t forget, we are tiny Trinidad and Tobago and there is no way that the referee was going to blow that whistle and disallow the goal.”
In 2015, Sancho told BBC Radio Kent: “I think Crouch is probably the most hated Englishman in the history of Trinidad and Tobago because of that goal.”
Has he not seen Crouchy’s Twitter account? The man is the living embodiment of the good times. How could anyone hate him?
So, 14 years after the Hand of Dread, do the people of Trinidad and Tobago still burn lanky effigies of Crouch?
Is Port of Spain littered with dart boards inviting you to plant a sharp piece of steel between Crouch’s eyebrows?
We spoke to Lasana Liburd of Wired868.com, who told us: “I still feel a little sick when I remember that giraffe in football boots racing away to celebrate that illegal goal against us.
“We were so close to a second point that would have given us momentum going into our final group match against Paraguay.
“But the football reporter side of me says that’s just the law of the jungle: experienced players prey on naive ones.
“I’d have danced around Nuremberg with the widest smile on the planet if Stern John had yanked Rio Ferdinand’s cornrows to head in a winner for the Soca Warriors!”
We also caught up with Stephon Nicholas, Editor of Trinidad Newsday, to find out.
Nicholas told Dream Team: “Crouch was never really hated here in my opinion as we didn’t really have expectations of advancing to the next round prior to the tournament.
“But after drawing our first game vs Sweden 0-0 and holding England scoreless for so long, it was comical that the mighty England would have to resort to cheap tactics to score against us.
“Crouch, being so much taller than everyone else, didn’t have to stoop so low by pulling someone’s hair to win a header.
“I think most of Trinidad and Tobago believe- after being 0-0 with 10 minutes to go – we could have got another point against England and, going into our last game against Paraguay, we would have been hoping for a win to reach the round of 16.”
A rational response, although we’d like to believe that Steven Gerrard would still have gone on to bury his goal in the 91st minute regardless of Crouch scoring or not.
But we’re relieved to know that Crouch is free to roam the streets of Trinidad and Tobago, safe in the knowledge that he’s not public enemy no.1 anymore.