Jordan Pickford prepares to ‘step up and take’ penalty if England-France quarter-final goes to shootout

If Saturday’s quarter-final ends in a penalty shootout and Kylian Mbappe steps in first, Jordan Pickford will look him straight in the eye. The England keeper described it as ‘part of my process’ as he provided insight into the technique which has seen him make saves in all three shootouts he has featured in for the international team.

Pickford also revealed he thought the ball was different, but went into detail, putting a different spin – so to speak – on a well-worn tournament story.

“For me, penalty shootouts, I have the same process that I do all the time,” the keeper said. “In every individual penalty I face, I will do the same. I’m not changing my process and hope I’m going the right way and running the backup. You can research, but it’s about executing your process, your dive on the night of the shooting.

“I just watch them and see how they feel. But they have their process as a penalty taker, and as a goalkeeper I have my process, and it’s the one that wins on that individual penalty.

Pickford spoke about the research he is carrying out, which paid off in terms of penalty saves in the Euro 2020 final against Italy – but not in the result.

“It’s a World Cup, I’ll try to give as many details as possible. You want to win the game and so do we. There will be research. But with the Euro final, I think you can look at the stats and save two should win you the tournament. But that’s football. That’s never what the statistics sometimes say. It’s something we’re going to learn from this loss and hopefully improve on.

“I’ll have a little reset every time I go sideways [between penalties], but my process is still the same. Hopefully I won’t have to make a backup tomorrow. Hopefully we won’t have any penalties. Hopefully we will get the win in 90 minutes. But you will see with my process it is always the same. It never changes.

Pickford also said he was training on penalties himself.

“You have to be ready for anything. You can’t not practice them, just go in and think everything will be fine. I have to be ready to take one and I have to be ready to save one.

“If it comes down to that, I’ll step in and take one, but it’s not my decision. It’s the call from the manager and the backroom staff.

When asked why there had been such a high proportion of missed penalties in Qatar compared to previous World Cups, at 39%, Pickford started talking about the ball difference. Although he didn’t directly attribute the missed penalties to the new ball, he insisted it was harder to deal with.

Jordan Pickford celebrates saving Jorginho’s penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout (Getty Images)

“The balls are a bit naughty, definitely. The balls are a bit different from what I’m used to in the Premier League with the Nike ball at my club. They are definitely a little different. But I wouldn’t say that about recording a penalty. I think [Yassine] Bounou, the Moroccan goalkeeper, made some great saves against Spain. But some people might say they weren’t as good as penalties. But you still have to execute that save, and I think that’s what the goalkeepers did.

When asked to elaborate on the bullets, Pickford said: “They’re called Speedshells, so here’s your clue. They are just a little different. They are just a different ball. Personally, the more you play with them, the more you get used to them. You play with a Premier League ball, a Nike ball, all Premier League games and use this Adidas ball directly on the back of the Premier League ball. It always takes a bit of adjustment with a different type of ball and a different manufacturer. But it’s something I’m used to and it’s going well now.

“I don’t know, it’s really a little weird. It’s just a slightly different type of ball, a different brand, something you have to readapt to right away. My hitting distance is still the same but they are a bit faster. That’s all.”

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