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Xinhua News Agency/PA Images England beat Colombia on penalties in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup.
# 2022 World Cup
England have broken down penalty shootout 'mental barriers' and will be ready if put on the spot
Eric Dier and Gareth Southgate insist England are ‘mentally and physically’ set to go the distance in Qatar, if needs be.

ERIC DIER INSISTS England are ready for a World Cup shootout in Qatar after they broke down “mental barriers” by beating Colombia on penalties four years ago.

The win at the last 16 stage in Russia was England’s first in a World Cup at their fourth attempt.

They have also only ever won one shootout at a European Championship – against Spain at Euro 96 – including losing last year’s final to Italy at Wembley.

England were also successful in their Nations League third-placed play-off against Switzerland in 2019.

But the Colombia victory, in which Dier scored the decisive effort after goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had saved superbly from Carlos Bacca, has been hailed as a watershed moment by the Tottenham defender.

“There are ifs, buts and maybes aren’t there,” he said.

“I feel like that World Cup, it’s difficult for me to say because I was involved, but I felt in that game we broke down a lot of mental barriers and stereotypes that exist in English football surrounding things like knockout games and penalty shootouts and playing against that type of opposition as well.

“I think that game I remember it felt at the time like it was a weight off our shoulders and I think you saw that in the next game against Sweden (in the quarter-final).

“No-one was talking about us winning it and that game was a moment in which we all felt like we had got over a few hurdles and now we were free to just play and some of the weight of history had been removed from our backs.”

Dier has not started a game at the World Cup so far but, with England coming up against Senegal at Al Bayt Stadium in the last 16 on Sunday night, he would have no qualms stepping up if the tie went all the way to penalties.

“I’m definitely not scared to take a penalty,” he said.

“I’d be nervous in the moment but I’m not scared to do it. To be honest, my pen against Colombia when Pickford saved the penalty before, it made my penalty a lot easier.

“It was to win it, not to get knocked out, so it’s a completely different psychology. When he saved his, it was a lot easier for me. He helped me a lot.”

Someone else who has helped Dier when it comes to penalties is Spurs team-mate and England skipper Harry Kane.

The 29-year-old has missed just 10 of the 67 spot-kicks he has taken for club and country and will be on hand should England be awarded a penalty at any stage.

“I’ve spoken to him in the past about penalties and spoken to him a lot because obviously I have breakfast with him every day of my life, pretty much,” added Dier, who remained tight-lipped on what the England captain has for breakfast, only for Kane to reveal he eats omelette, avocado and toast.

“I’ve spoken to him about penalties many times but he doesn’t preach to anyone about it. Everyone is different, everyone’s process is different, no one is right or wrong.

“We’re all different as individuals. Some players go through a routine that starts two days before a game to get ready for a game and other players just turn up on the day.

“Everyone’s different. Everyone prepares in their own way, as long as it’s the right thing for their mindset.”

Gareth Southgate, meanwhile, says his team are mentally and physically ready for another penalty shoot-out – and he would not hesitate to ask Marcus Rashford or Bukayo Saka to take a spot-kick at the World Cup.

Jadon Sancho, Rashford and Saka failed with their attempts in a heart-breaking Euro 2020 final loss that Southgate is confident the team have learned from.

“Well, like every other aspect of our game, we’re prepared and we’ve had a process that we’ve followed,” said the England boss, who missed his penalty in the Euro 96 semi-final defeat to Germany.

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“We’ve had three shoot-outs, we’ve won two, so inevitably the one that you don’t get over the line you reflect and you think about how you can improve those processes.

“We’ve done that over the last few months, in particular, but of course, there is so many other aspects to the game that we’ve got to get right.

“We’re aiming to win the game and to avoid extra-time if you can, and to avoid penalties if you can, because you’d like to get a victory in 90 minutes.

“But if we need to go 120 minutes, if we need to go beyond that, then we’ve got to be ready for that mentally and physically. And I believe we are.”

Sancho, Rashford and Saka were subjected to sickening racist abuse after their misses last year.

Rashford and Saka are in Qatar with England and Southgate would have no hesitation calling on them if the Senegal match goes down to the wire.

“None at all,” he said. “Marcus’ stats would be among the best in the world, really, on penalty taking. And Bukayo is now taking them more regularly with his club. They’re both in a good space with that.”

For the latest news coverage on the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022, see here >

- updated 10.24am

Press Association


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