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I played with Palmer & Foden at City – England can trust their Holland penalties


ENGLAND fans should be filled with faith – not fear – if Phil Foden and Cole Palmer take penalties against Holland tonight.

Manchester City defender Luke Mbete grew up playing around the two Three Lions playmakers so he knew super-sub Palmer would slot home his opening spot-kick against Switzerland.

Luke Mbete and Cole Palmer came up through Manchester City youth ranks together


Luke Mbete and Cole Palmer came up through Manchester City youth ranks togetherCredit: Getty

And the 20-year-old Etihad ace – who has represented England from U15-U21 level – shows no signs of the penalty phobia most fans are riddled with when Gareth Southgate’s wonderkids walk up to the spot.

Centre-back Mbete told SunSport: “If the last game taught us anything, it was to teach us to have even more faith in our boys.

“All five of them stepped up and executed in an extremely professional manner.

“You cannot recreate that sort of pressure in any training ground situation or environment but they are professionals at the peak of their game.

“So I trust them and I hope the whole nation trusts them if they are called upon again.”

Mbete has just completed a loan to Den Bosch in Holland but the West Londoner returned to his childhood school of St Gregory’s Catholic Science College in Harrow on Tuesday to host an awards evening and donate £5,000.

Staying true to his roots is crucial for the centre-back and he revealed it’s a huge part of both Foden and Chelsea hero Palmer’s classy careers so far.

He explained: “I played with Cole from a young age and I first played with Phil when I first got called up to play with the first team.


Luke Mbete (second from left) has played and trained alongside City's stars like Phil Foden


Luke Mbete (second from left) has played and trained alongside City’s stars like Phil Foden

“The best thing about Cole and Phil is that they both do their talking on the pitch and that has helped them both go on to have incredible seasons.

“They are really good people and really relaxed too, what people are seeing on TV is what they are like in real life.

Gareth Southgate admits England stars gripped by fear of Euro 2024 failure – but reveals huge change in last match

Inside Jordan Pickford’s penalty saving technique as he bids to be England’s Euros hero

JORDAN PICKFORD has regularly been the hero when it comes to a penalty shootout for his country, writes Jon Boon.

The England and Everton goalkeeper, 30, saved Manuel Akanji’s effort for Switzerland to hand the Three Lions an advantage in their shootout win in their Euro 2024 quarter-final.

Now, with the help of Goalkeeper.com, we’ve uncovered Pickford’s penalty-saving technique.


Pickford is well prepared when it comes to facing the ball from 12-yards.

His water bottle trick has become infamous with the list of penalty takers and direction of shot taped on to it.

But you cannot always listen blindly to most probable placements, and a goalkeeper’s intuition should also play a role.

That human element remains important.


Being a goalkeeper is often called the ‘loneliest job’ in the world.

And when it comes to penalties, your team-mates are solely reliant upon your strategy to save one.

Often, we’ve seen goalies who prefer to favour one side – and continuously dive one way.

However, Pickford adopts a mixed strategy.

Sometimes, he will dive to the power side – saving from Jorginho in the Euro 2020 final.

His save from Akanji in the Swiss shootout was made on the placement side.


Goalkeepers are hindered during penalty shootouts – with the Fifa rulebook meaning they have to stay on the line until the shot is taken.

That means the lift off of your dive has to be executed a certain way.

Pickford launches himself from his back foot behind the line, pushes his body weight forwards, makes no large negative step and keeps both hands active to make the save.

This was put into effect when he made saves from Italy’s Andrea Belotti in 2020 and Colombia’s Carlos Bacca at the 2018 World Cup.

France’s Mike Maignan, by comparison, takes a large negative step, and struggles to reach his posts.


Interestingly, Pickford is better at saving penalties in shootouts for England than in his overall career average, and better at saving in shootouts vs in game.

Clearly, Pickford performs better in an England shirt and when there is bigger pressure.

Read our full analysis of Jordan Pickford’s penalty-saving techniques…

“They are both really relaxed people, as well as players, and that allows their talent to just come through on game day.”

Mbete, who made FA Cup and Champions League appearances for Pep Guardiola before his most recent loan spell, is aware of the criticisms the England performances have faced.

But he’s sure his City colleagues, like John Stones and Kyle Walker  – as well as the rest of the squad – are all desperate to succeed for the nation.

“Representing your country, wearing that England shirt, is always a huge honour,” he said. “That brings great pride and you can see the boys feeling that.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the quality of the performances but you can’t debate their effort or dedication, to reach the stage they have.”

Mbete and Palmer won the FA Youth Cup together


Mbete and Palmer won the FA Youth Cup together

England can’t take their eye off the ball… you’ve NEVER cracked penalties, warns Jurgen Klinsmann

THE key to winning penalty shootouts is to never think you’ve cracked it, writes Jurgen Klinsmann.

England were so impressive from the spot against Switzerland on Saturday — all five penalties were exceptional.

That will bring confidence to Gareth Southgate’s team but there is no guarantee they will win another one, in the semi-final against Holland or in the final.

Do not expect the next shootout to be the same. Thinking like that is very dangerous.

If a game goes to extra-time, don’t just believe you can get all the substitutions right and manage the game, then win on penalties — that’s when you take your eye off the ball.

And, unless you’re Ivan Toney, that’s usually a bad thing.

After so many bad experiences with shootouts over the years, it always plays on your mind.

It’s tragic when you keep losing that way and I know the whole English nation used to dread penalties.

Gareth and his staff have changed all that, thanks to excellent preparation. They know shootouts are no lottery.

The German national team haven’t lost a shootout since 1976 — and, of course, we beat England on penalties in the semi-finals of 1990 World Cup and Euro 96.

Here, our approaches were actually very different.

In 1990 we were full of players who were extremely confident in moments like that — players like Andreas Brehme, Lothar Matthaus and Rudi Voller, with extremely big personalities.

We were so convinced we would win that tournament in Italy, so we didn’t spend much time practising penalties.

Six years later, it was very different. We knew we didn’t have the same quality as England and we prepared for penalties methodically.

We got through because of an extreme desire to win, a willingness to suffer and, yes, being good at penalties.

As a manager, you have to read every player.

If he’s totally confident in his approach to taking a spot-kick, then he doesn’t have to shoot five penalties every day. Others need constant repetition.

I’ve always prepared my team for  shootouts as if they would be crucial.

We never felt embarrassed about saying that. It’s part of preparation for knockout matches.

Read all of SunSport columnist Jurgen Klinsmann’s Euro 2024 opinions.

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