England started practising penalties 40 days ago, reveals Defoe
Published 23:00 24/06/10 By Jeremy Armstrong
It's the news all fans wanted to hear – England have finally been practising penalties in case we face a dreaded shoot-out against the Germans.
Striker Jermain Defoe revealed the squad started spot kick training 40 days ago in a bid to finally beat our old foe should Sunday’s last 16 clash finish in a draw.
The 27-year-old, scorer of Wednesday’s only goal in the victory against Slovenia that took us through to the knockout stages, said Fabio Capello ordered every single player to improve their penalty taking.
Mirror columnist Jermain added: “Every day since Austria we’ve been practising penalties.
“I hope we can win the game in the 90 minutes but in a major tournament it might come down to that.
“Everyone’s been practising. I am ready to take one, 100%.”
Hopefully Capello has been pointing his stars to great England penalty takers such as Alan Shearer rather than Stuart Pearce – who missed a vital spot kick in the 1990 World Cup finals against Germany.
Pearce is now assistant England boss, but Jermain sparked laughter when asked if he had brought up the hard man’s famous blunder during the team’s penalty sessions.
He replied: “I don’t think I will mention it to him to be honest.”
England have lost all their three World Cup shoot-outs, including one against Argentina in the last 16 at France 98 and Portugal in the quarter finals in Germany four years ago.
Germany have only ever missed one penalty out of 18 in their entire World Cup history.
They have the best record of all countries, with four shoot-out victories. We, surprise surprise, have the worst.
But Tottenham star Jermain has been knocking them in every day since World Cup preparation began in Austria on May 17. And he is confident England will be able to handle the pressure of a shoot-out.
Describing Sunday’s showdown as “the biggest match” of his career so far, he said: “It is important not to think about the history and approach it like any other game.
“Germany are a great football nation but we are a great side.
“You have to beat the best to win the tournament. It’s a massive game but we’re looking forward to it.
“The lads are buzzing. They feel fresh, use the pool, the gym and masseurs. Preparation is spot on.”
Perhaps Capello’s stars should be told of a new study that shows penalty success is all down to which way the standing foot is pointing. Scientists at Liverpool’s John Lennon University worked with one of England’s best spot kickers Matt Le Tissier and the only goalie who ever denied him, Mark Crossley.
The striker hit 100 penalties against the former Nottingham Forest star in one session and the experts found that whichever way the standing foot is pointing is the direction the ball will go.
Southampton legend Le Tiss, who scored 47 times out of 48, said: “I didn’t believe them at first, but when we studied the slow motion replays I saw they were right.”
No doubt Jermain will be delighted if it comes down to spot kicks and he scores the one that takes England through to the quarter-finals.
Describing his first World Cup goal against Slovenia, he said: “It’s hard to find words to say how I felt, it’s something I’ve dreamt about as a young lad and something I’ve pictured in my mind.”
And he told how Capello has been a tower of strength since the team came under a hail of criticism for their insipid display in the dreary 0-0 draw with Algeria.
Jermain said: “He’s been fantastic. When we’ve been low he tells us he thinks we can win this Cup. It’s nice to hear that faith.”
Let’s hope Capello’s been telling them they are all what brilliant penalty takers they are…