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05th Jul 2018

Eric Dier makes incredible confession about his winning penalty against Colombia

Nerves. Of. Steel.

Reuben Pinder

He needed nerves of steel

Penalty shootouts are brutal experiences, guaranteed to end in heartache or jubilation for the fans. As for the players, it will either end in joy, relief, or a lifetime of guilt.

As you’re probably aware, England’s record in World Cup penalty shootouts is not good. Tuesday night’s victory against Colombia was the first time England had won a shootout in a World Cup, ever. It was easy, therefore, for fans to be pessimistic and to expect the same old story.

But as Gareth Southgates continues to say, this team are not burdened with past failures. They’re a new generation, and they are prepared for penalties. Well, most of them are.

A few days before the Colombia match, the proposed order of penalty takers in a shootout was leaked. Of course, it depends who is on the pitch at the time, but Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson and Kieran Trippier were all well aware that they would be making the torturous walk from the halfway line to the spot.

The other two penalties were taken by Marcus Rashford and Eric Dier – who wasn’t aware that he would be taking one until very short notice. Jamie Vardy, who also came off the bench with Rashford and Dier, was meant to take the fifth penalty, but the Leicester striker suffered a groin strain in the final minutes of extra time. Southgate then informed Dier that he would be taking Vardy’s place in the order.

Asked whether he knew he was going to be taking the fifth penalty, Dier said: “No, I had no idea. We were hoping it didn’t go to penalties!”

“I didn’t know the order until the manager came. The manager didn’t tell us the order before the game. Obviously, with substitutions, the order can change, so after extra-time he just told me that I was number five.

“It’s a strange one. Obviously you don’t do it very often so it’s a bit weird, but it was okay.

“At the time, I don’t really know what I was thinking about [walking up to take the penalty], to be honest. While you’re waiting to take it it’s nerve-wracking but, once I walked up, when I was going to take it, I was quite calm to be honest.”

Calm he was, as he stood dead still until David Ospina was ready. But despite getting fingertips to it, Ospina could not stop Dies penalty, as England progressed through to the quarter-finals, where they will face Sweden.