Training for shootouts can deliver escape from the penalty lottery, but England must stop living in the past
At least this time, an England team made it to a penalty shootout. In recent tournaments, the senior team finished bottom of their 2014 World Cup group, and lost against Iceland in their first Euro 2016 knockout match. So when England Under-21s reached the Euro 2017 semi-final and took a far more experienced Germany team to penalties, that in itself represented progress – until the penalty curse struck again.
This was an opportunity for England to exorcise some serious penalty ghosts. The Germany coach was Stefan Kuntz, who had scored Germany’s fifth penalty in the Euro 96 semi-final at Wembley. I spoke to Kuntz in researching my book Twelve Yards: The Art and Psychology of the Perfect Penalty. He understands the pressure of a penalty and did not want to take one at all. He chose to kick fifth because he hoped the shootout would be over before he was required. The kicker after him was Gareth Southgate; his penalty was saved.