England hope to conquer penalty curse

Jul 03, 2018, 08:20 IST | AFP

Penalties have been the death of England at six of the last 12 major tournaments and in that time, they have won only once, against Spain at Euro '96

England hope to conquer penalty curse
England captain Harry Kane (centre) trains with his teammates on the eve of their World Cup Last 16 match against Colombia. Pic/AFP

England have projected this World Cup as a fresh start for a new generation but the team's record of failure in penalty shoot-outs may not be so easy to forget.

Penalties have been the death of England at six of the last 12 major tournaments and in that time, they have won only once, against Spain at Euro '96. Gareth Southgate's playing career was defined by the shot he side-footed into the hands of Andreas Kopke as England then lost in the semi-finals at Wembley to Germany. "I have had a couple of decades thinking it through," Southgate said last week.

His experience has informed his own approach now as coach, with a Last 16 tie against Colombia to come today and the possibility of penalties looming again. Southgate was in the World Cup squad in 1998 under Glenn Hoddle, who believed shoot-outs were a lottery, impossible to replicate in training and therefore not worth any form of practice. England duly lost to Argentina on spot-kicks and missed out on the quarter-finals.

If there is one thing Southgate has been determined to drill into the preparation of his players, it is that penalty shoot-outs are not decided by chance. "It's definitely not chance," Marcus Rashford said in Repino. "It's a skill and every skill takes time to learn and to perfect. It's never a chance. It's just about being able to perform it with pressure."

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