Englands tortured history of penalty shootouts
When time is getting on, and the clocks hands keep spinning uninterrupted. When it’s parity and fewer and fewer minutes remain to separate one team from the other. One thought will run round and round the heads of helpless England fans, “Please no penalties. Please no penalties. Please no penalties.”
Penalties have not been kind to England. In four of England’s last seven tournaments, they have went home at the hands of a penalty shootout. It is a sad and tortured history of disappointment. In many ways that word - disappointment - is the defining characteristic of the England fan.
Thanks to penalties.
It’s been a sad history; lets take a look.
England have won only one penalty shootout from six at major finals. Their only successful shootout came against Spain at Euro 96.
In a game that will be remembered for Gazza’s tears. Of Lineker pointing to his own eye and looking to the bench. Yes he is crying. England lost the first in their painful cycle of penalty shootouts, against Germany (they went on to win the 1990 World Cup) and developed a national taste for the scapegoat. Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle were the villains on that occasion.
1996 was similarly painful. And a mirror image of the shootout at Italia 90. Germans. Semi-final. They went on to win the competition. The villain on that occasion? Gareth Southgate, current ITV pundit but forever defined, and maligned, by one kick in 96.
England’s knockout came at the hands of another old rival at France 98. Argentina booted them out of the competition, despite MIchael Owen’s famous wondergoal. The villains of the peace were Paul Ince and David Batty.
Next came two losses at the hands of Portugal. England didn’t have a 20th century war with the Portuguese, unlike the Argentines and Germans - in fact the Anglo-Portuguese alliance is a long standing treaty between the two nations, the oldest such in the World, signed in 1373. So no wars, but it certainly felt like they were two old enemies by the end of these two penalty shootout exits.
David Beckham was the culprit in 2004, knocking his penalty high over the bar. With Darius Vassell also missing in sudden death.
2006 was, if anything, even more depressing. Rooney had been sent off. Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and, another current ITV pundit, Jamie Carragher all missed. Portugal progress, again.
Roy Hodgson is taking no chances this year. His team are taking multiple penalties at training sessions in an effort to prepare players for the psychological strain of the ultimate nerve-wracking, unfair, decider of winner and loser in sport.
How effective Hodgson’s methods will prove remains to be seen. But it’s better than nothing. And England fans will still be thinking, “Please no penalties. Please no penalties. Please no penalties.”
Perhaps England fans can take some solace from the fact that Chelsea won the Champions League, against a German side. Perhaps the curse is over.
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