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04th Jul 2018

There was a reason Jordan Pickford switched water bottles ahead of penalty shootout

He pulled out all the stops

Darragh Murphy

Jordan Pickford’s head must still be spinning after the performance he put in against Colombia on Tuesday night.

Pickford came up with the game of his life to firstly pull off one of the greatest World Cup saves of all time to deny Mateus Uribe before he then stopped a Carlos Bacca penalty in the shootout to send England into the quarter-finals.

His teammates sprinted straight for Pickford after Eric Dier slotted home the penalty that ultimately decided the game.

Plenty of thought went into England’s penalties, with manager Gareth Southgate confirming that they’d been preparing since March for the eventuality of a shootout.

But it wasn’t just the order of penalty takers and psychological preparation that was going on behind the scenes.

England’s No 1 was also given the opportunity to do some last-minute homework on Tuesday night because, while Southgate was providing some late instructions to those who would be taking spot-kicks, Pickford was given a new water bottle by goalkeeper coach Martyn Margetson.

There was a very good reason for this switch in bottles, however, as a list of Colombia’s penalty takers and their preferred sides was printed on the side of Pickford’s new bottle, according to a report in the Mirror.

Pickford faced criticism from Belgium stopper Thibaut Courtois last week for his technique when conceding Adnan Januzaj’s winner in the Group G decider and, after his heroic showing at the Spartak Stadium, the Everton ‘keeper responded to the jibes.

“I have got power and agility,” Pickford said. “I don’t care if I’m not the biggest keeper because it’s about being there in the moment and making the save, and I was.”