Sir Geoff Hurst urges England to practice one thing before Colombia clash
It’s the elephant in the room at every tournament, but Sir Geoff Hurst says England ’s tusk force MUST practise penalties.
England have been knocked out of six major tournaments on penalties since 1990 – three World Cups and three European Championships – with Bobby Robson, Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle, Sven Goran Eriksson (twice, both against Portugal) and Roy Hodgson all suffering the tyranny of shoot-outs.
Only once, against Spain at Euro 96, have England found joy to relieve their anguish.
And as Gareth Southgate’s squad enter the World Cup knockout phase against Colombia tomorrow, 1966 hat-trick hero Hurst warned they were likely to encounter the knife-edge drama of a shoot-out somewhere down the line – so they had better be ready for it.
Already there have been 20 spot-kicks awarded in open play at Russia 2018, and Sir Geoff said: “The further you go, and the tighter games become, the likelier it is that you might need penalties to progress.
World Cup 2018
“One thing about penalties that people don’t understand is how few players actually want to take one.
“I heard recently of one side – I think it was in Germany – where the manager not only nominated his five takers, but told them where to put their penalties: to the keeper’s left, to the right, powered down the middle, and so on.
“That’s an intriguing way to go about it, because if you miss then it’s the manager’s fault and he takes the responsibility.
“But I hope England practise penalties. You’ve got to work on them. So often they are the difference between survival and being knocked out.
“Two World Cup finals have even been settled by a shoot-out. I hope to God we put enough emphasis on them – and that everyone goes about them the same way as Harry Kane against Panama.”
England legend Gary Lineker revealed he used to take “40 to 50” penalties every day in training at the 1990 World Cup – usually without a goalkeeper, so none of them could be saved to dent his confidence – and the routine served him well.
Lineker scored twice from the spot in the quarter-final win against Cameroon, and he made no mistake in the fateful shoot-out with Germany in the semi-final.
Many of Hoddle’s squad, on the other hand, did not practise penalties. When David Batty became the luckless fall-guy in the gut-wrenching defeat by Argentina in St Etienne 20 years ago, it was the first one he had ever taken for club or country.
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