England keeper’s not-so-secret weapon during penalty shootout victory

UK

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had a not-so-secret weapon in the Three Lions’ penalty shootout victory over Switzerland.

On Saturday, Gareth Southgate’s men managed another victory to continue their unbeaten progression through the Euros to the semi-final.

In a tense penalty shootout against Switzerland, Pickford pulled out a vital save that allowed his teammates to win it.

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England through to Euro semi-finals

The Everton goalkeeper saved Switzerland’s first penalty, taken by Man City defender Manuel Akanji, correctly diving to his left.

It turns out Pickford had a little help in the form of a penalty cheat-sheet taped to his water bottle.

The tactic is a common one in the modern game, but a picture snapped after the match showed how it helped the Three Lions’ to victory.

Image:
England’s hero Bukayo Saka after scoring his penalty. Pic: Reuters

On the paper it read “Switzerland Penalty Taker List” – and listed all the players who may be taking one.

In the next column it listed instructions on what the English shot stopper should do.

Instructions like “fake right – dive left”, “set – react” and more are written down by corresponding names.

Image:
Pickford celebrates after England’s quarter-final win. Pic: Reuters

Image:
Gareth Southgate celebrating the win over the Swiss. Pic: Reuters

Next to Akanji’s name is “dive left”, which is what Pickford did to save his spot kick.

England’s penalty takers went on to score all five in the shootout to win the game, with Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold scoring the final deciding penalty.

But it was only thanks to the heroics of man-of-the-match Bukayo Saka that England even made it to the shootout after the Arsenal winger scored an equalising goal before the end of normal time.

He buried his own penalty despite pressure following the racist abuse aimed at him when he missed one at the previous tournament.

The result not only establishes Southgate as one of England’s most successful managers in terms of going deep into tournaments, but it puts the country within touching distance of a trophy.

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Image:
The moment England won the penalty shootout

‘No problem’

And it’s not the first time Pickford has hit the headlines in a penalty shootout.

In a tense final with Italy at the previous tournament, Pickford faced down the then Chelsea midfielder Jorginho who took the fifth penalty.

The Italian had a 100% penalty record for his country and had he scored he would have won the tournament for his nation – leaving England without any further opportunity to make a comeback.

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But Pickford could be seen psyching himself up for the save, telling himself “no problem” before he held his nerve and saved the penalty.

Even though England went on to lose, Pickford has now saved at least one penalty in each of the last four shootouts he’s been in for his country.

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