The ghost of Euro 96 is shaping Gareth Southgate’s World Cup strategy as England manager.
After winning two out of three group games and losing 1-0 to Belgium last Thursday, the Three Lions boss is confident his side can go all the way – even if they face a dreaded penalty shootout against Colombia on Tuesday.
After his penalty against Germany in the 1996 European Championships was saved by Andreas Kopke, the image of a dejected Southgate in England’s dreadful grey kit became iconic for all the wrong reasons.
“I’ve learned a million things from that day and the years that followed it,” he said.
“When something goes wrong in your life it doesn’t finish you and you should become braver, knowing that you’ve got to go for things in life and don’t regret because you didn’t try to be as good as you might be.
“You mustn’t be inhibited and if there’s one thing I can instil in my players it’s that I want them in this game to really attack the game, show people how good they might be and not walk off the field thinking ‘I wish I’d just tried things that I’ve been trying up to this point’, because up to this point it’s stood us in good stead.
“I’m constantly talking to them about going for it in life and they’ve been able to change perceptions of how an England team might play and we mustn’t lose sight of that.
“We’re prepared for being good enough to get to that stage [penalty shootout].
“In the last few tournaments we haven’t even got anywhere near a shootout and we’ve spent half our life talking about it and it’s not happened.
“Regular penalty takers have their set routines and they’re used to being in that situation.
“It’s been important for us that the whole squad feel that way, so when they stand forward they are very clear in their mind what they are going to do.
“There’s plenty of work gone on for that eventuality.”
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