Their romantic boat trip off the coast of Sardinia had started so well as they soaked up the sun while enjoying champagne.

But Peter Crouch soon had a sinking feeling when bad weather blew up and their anchor refused to budge.

Suddenly, the footballer and wife Abbey Clancy were in a terrifying life or death struggle to get free and avoid being dashed against jagged rocks.

Revealing their 2009 ordeal in his new autobiography, he says: “I’d hired a little motorboat for just the two of us and we dropped anchor just off Porto Cervo to catch a few rays.

“We’d cracked open the champers and were sunbathing on the deck when I became aware the weather had taken a sudden turn for the worse.

Crouch in 2006, when he was a rising star in the Liverpool FC team

“I tried to grab the anchor but it was snagged on something and when I tried to put the boat in reverse nothing happened and we started to panic.

“The wind was sending waves thumping against the hull, spinning us round on our accidental mooring, swinging towards a shoreline that on closer inspection seemed to be made entirely of large, jagged rocks.”

With the anchor refusing to budge, Peter grabbed a corkscrew and they took it in turns to hack at the rope.

Peter and Abbey married in 2011
 

“Soon, there were more holes in my fingers than the ropes. There was blood on the deck, panic in our throats.

“What had begun as a romantic gesture was turning into a horror movie and the rocks were getting closer and closer. But just as things were getting really desperate, the rope snapped and we roared away.

“I don’t know whether we’d have died or not if we’d crashed into the rocks but it certainly wouldn’t have done wonders for my good looks.”

The story ends on a tongue-in-cheek note that sums up the way Tottenham, Liverpool and England star Peter, 38, views life in his book I, Robot, How to be a Footballer 2 – out Thursday.

Of course, the Sardinia episode is not the only holiday disaster the Crouches have suffered – then laughed about.

Crouch's size made him an immense weapon on the pitch
 

Peter says of a jaunt a few years later: “We were en route to our villa in Malia, Crete, when we bumped into David Bentley, who I played with at Spurs.

“We ended up having an absolutely mental night out with all three of us dancing on a table at one point and then me dancing on the bar.

“Abbey was looking up at me dancing on the bar – that’s quite a long way up for her to look – when she lost her footing and fell on to these hard steps, literally breaking her back.

Young Peter with ex-QPR star Justin Channing
 

“She actually fractured it when she landed and we were told she had broken her coccyx. She was in agony.

“We rushed back to the villa and the next thing I remember was the sight of Abbey, who at this point was throwing up into a bucket with her naked arse in the air having cream massaged into her buttocks by this nurse.

“Abbey was in a lot of pain and I’m not proud to admit I was in tears laughing. But actually, Abbey was laughing too and she accepted it was all just a bit of a drunken chaos.”

Peter quit the pitch in July and has started a new career in punditry.

The celeb husband and wife on their wedding day
 

He works for BT Sport as well as presenting his own podcast for the BBC and co-hosting entertainment sports show Back Of The Net with Gabby Logan and John Bishop for Amazon. But now that he has hung his boots up, he reveals he may have done it sooner if not for Abbey.

Peter says: “I came off injured during a cup game for Stoke against Nottingham Forest and called Abbey.

Pepe Reyna with Crouch and Robbie Fowler during the Liverpool Football Club FA Cup Trophy Parade in 2006

“I was just like, ‘I’m done, that was it’. I felt off the pace. I hadn’t played for a little while and having played at a top level, to then be getting a chase around at Forest, I was like, ‘No, no, I’m done, I can’t do this any more’.

“But Abbey just picked me up again. She said, ‘Don’t be so stupid, it’s only one game’, and I changed my mind.”

Despite her support, Peter admits model Abbey, 33, has limited footie knowledge, saying: “It’s true to say she doesn’t know much about football.

“She doesn’t really have any concept of whether it’s a big game or a small game or a memorable moment or not.

"I would come home and if I’d scored a hat-trick, or an own-goal and had a nightmare, it was the same reaction.

“She’d be, ‘Oh, I had a nightmare today, I broke my nail’ and there was certainly no, “Ooh, Pete, you’re amazing’. But it’s what I needed. It kept my ego in check and it’s the same now I’ve stopped playing.

The Crouch family during a rare moment of calm on holiday

“I might still be away working on TV covering matches but the second I walk in she’ll just talk to me about the kids. If I talk about football she’s not really listening.

“But I respect Abbey’s opinions on everything. If I’ve got any work stuff to discuss or anything else, I’ll run it by her and she always likes to say she’s always right. Which obviously isn’t true. Although she is right a lot.”

Having a model wife is also handy for getting tips on how to look good – especially if you are a 6ft 7in beanpole like Peter, who has compared his own arms with linguine.

His main challenge post-retirement appears to be staying in shape.

Peter says: “Abbey makes me a green juice every morning as I don’t eat enough veg and so far so good.

"I’ve not been training properly for three months but up until now there’s been no discernible difference to my body. Running bores me so I’m avoiding that but I might to start to play more tennis.”

Pundit Peter says his kids tease him over his height

Read More

Showbiz editor's picks

Retirement also means Peter has more time to spend with kids Sophia, eight, Liberty Rose, four, Johnny, who turns two in January, and four-month-old Jack.

He says: “I was always hands-on, even when I was playing. But it’s even better now. And what’s nice now is I can take them to school and pick them up.”

Mind you, Peter suffers the same kind of parenting headaches as the rest of us.

He says: “I took Sophia to summer camp and when I got there she didn’t want me to come in. I said, ‘Why not, Sophia?’ and she said, ‘Oh Daddy you’re too tall. I don’t need you to come in’.

"So I was like, ‘OK, that’s a bit much’. So she was hiding me away because all the kids are like, ‘Oh my God, your dad’s so tall’.”

But once the footie-mad boys learned who Sophia’s dad was, it was a different story. “Once the boys got wind I was her dad, she was like ‘Dad, can you come in today?’. I went from embarrassing dad to cool dad in 24 hours.”

Perhaps the biggest change in Peter’s life now is he can finally look forward to a big family festive season – the first football-free Christmas since he was 16.

“Twenty-two years I’ve been training Christmas Day, playing Boxing Day, playing the 28th,” he says. “In a hotel New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day game. But finally, this year I’ll be able to actually spend it with my family.”

And what in particular is he looking forward to doing this Christmas? “Getting absolutely hammered.”