Stoke City’s rise to the Premier League and then into Europe under former boss Tony Pulis is one of the great stories of the Premier League era. From cash strapped Championship strugglers to signing England international Peter Crouch, life in the top flight was a thrilling ride for the club from the Potteries.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing, as Pulis told UCFB in an exclusive interview as part of the LMA Insight Series. The club’s first two years in the top were flight were about survival by any means possible, said the Welshman. Only then could future-proofing the club be made possible.

Crediting owner Peter Coates and his family for their foresight, the club had generated enough money over the first two seasons to build a new training ground. And according to Pulis, it sounded like they needed one!

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He said: “The first season we were playing in the Premier League we were changing out of portakabins. I can remember Danny Pugh one Friday, we were due to play the next day, his leg went through the wooden floor of a shower – we had to get the fire brigade to come and get his leg out!”

Pulis went on, chuckling: “He’s stuck in the shower and couldn’t move his legs – we were frightened to death he was going to get splinters! We knew what we were, but over the years we progressed and the money we made we were able to reinvest in the football club, which gave us the opportunity to go and sign some really, really good players.”

One of those players was Crouch, who arrived at the Britannia Stadium for a then club record fee from Tottenham Hotspur.

Pulis said: “Crouchy was a marquee signing in lots of ways. He was keen to come and keen to be a part of it. The great thing about Crouchy is he is such a wonderful individual. There are no airs and graces about him; he’s not big time one bit – he’s a very down to earth person who loves football.”

Pulis, who’s also managed the likes of Crystal Palace and West Brom in the past, added with a smile on his face: “Yeah, he was a character! He and the rest of the lads were always up to some nonsense at the football club. I have so much respect for him – he’d done the rounds at the top level. He could have easily come to Stoke, put his slippers on and enjoyed his contract – he did everything but that. He worked his socks off for us.”