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Jordan Pickford on his England penalty shoot-out routine and thriving under pressure

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford talks EURO2024.com through his mentality in penalty shoot-outs following England's triumph against Switzerland.

Pickford: 'I love the pressure'

On Saturday evening in Düsseldorf, as the referee signalled for a penalty shoot-out between England and Switzerland, Jordan Pickford entered a mental space he knows intimately and in which he is supremely comfortable.

Many observers noted how coolly England's takers dispatched their kicks, a stark contrast to the fraught anxiety these situations used to invoke for the Three Lions, but their goalkeeper has been excelling at penalties on the international stage for years.

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"The lads who executed the five penalties were sensational," Pickford told EURO2024.com, "and I helped them out by saving the first penalty, which [gave] us an advantage. I'd have liked to have saved more, but they were good penalties that I was facing."

That shows the high standards England's No1 holds himself to – and he has good reason to. Since 2018, Pickford has saved five of the 20 shoot-out penalties he's faced, helping England to win three of the four he has been involved in. To put that in context, England keepers saved two between 1990 and 2012 and were on the losing side six times out of seven.

Classic EURO penalty shoot-out saves

A key part of Pickford's routine during penalty shoot-outs is how animated he becomes, demonstratively looking at his water bottle with instructions on, talking to the referee and geeing up the crowd. To watch him is like witnessing a showman captivate his audience. It's pure theatre.

"I'm different off the pitch, I'm probably a lot quieter and in my own bubble a little bit," he said. "But once I step my foot over that white line, the 'Jordan Pickford footballer' comes out: the passion, the mentality, in the zone – everything comes out with me."

His coach Gareth Southgate believes part of Pickford's success in shoot-outs is down to his willingness to embrace the situation and all the pressure it entails.

"I think, sometimes, the goalkeeper that likes to take centre stage in those moments is an important characteristic," the England manager explained, "and he's very comfortable in that spotlight. I think he's shown time and time again that he can make big saves."

Wednesday's last-four contest with the Netherlands will be England's third semi-final in major tournaments under Southgate and the expectations will undoubtedly be immense, but in Pickford they are blessed with a goalkeeper who is at his happiest when the going gets tough.

"I love playing under that pressure, and I thrive off it," he added. "I'm living the dream. If you don't enjoy that, if you don't enjoy playing football, what's the point in it?"

EURO ’96 highlights: England 4-1 Netherlands