MATT LE TISSIER: I've never been a fan of the stuttering run-up

MATT LE TISSIER: I’ve never been a fan of the stuttering run-up – keep penalties simple… and sending Bukayo Saka up last was a strange decision, that’s when you need your best takers

  • Former England international Matt Le Tissier scored 47 of his 48 penalty kicks
  • Southampton legend insists penalty kicks should be kept simple at all times
  • Calmness and not being afraid to change his mind were key to striker’s success
  • Le Tissier, though, believes England should have kept best penalty takers last 
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here

Sending 19-year-old Bukayo Saka to take England’s fifth penalty against Italy was a strange decision.

That’s me being an old pro who was only involved in one shootout and when the manager asked me to take the first penalty I said, ‘No, I’ll take the last one.’

I wanted that responsibility because I had confidence in my ability that when it got to the business end of the shootout, that’s when you needed your most experienced and best penalty-takers.

Bukayo Saka took England’s highly-pressurised fifth penalty in the Euro 2020 final

But he saw his spot-kick saved, resulting in England losing their first final in 55 years

I don’t like seeing your best going first because it exposes the back-end to lads who maybe haven’t taken many. Unfortunately, that was the case against Italy.

I don’t know if there is a common theme with the penalties England have missed down the years but I’ve never been a fan of the stuttering run-up or delaying kicking the ball.

It looks great when it comes off. When it doesn’t, it looks rubbish. You put yourself under a lot more pressure trying that. Keep it as simple as you possibly can. 

Matt Le Tissier famously only failed to score one of his 48 career penalties. Above he is pictured scoring for Southampton in a game against Tottenham Hotspur in 1995

I only ever had two options when taking a penalty. It was either going to the left-hand side or the right.

I kept an open mind as to which side I would pick until the last second before I kicked the ball, and kept an eye on the goalkeeper to see if he moved a little bit early.

That’s about having calmness and the bottle to change your mind at the last second.

I always sidefooted the ball as I wanted to keep the accuracy on it but I was quite fortunate that I could sidefoot a ball powerfully.

One of the things people don’t appreciate is the mental side of things. The taker has to want to be there. He must be comfortable with being in that situation. I didn’t mind the pressure, the focus of the whole stadium being on me. 

The second thing you have to deal with is nerves — I’d be lying if I said they were not there — as some butterflies immediately go through your stomach. But it is exciting. This is your big chance to score, probably the easiest chance you will get. I used to visualise the stadium erupting as the ball hit the back of the net. I erased all negative thoughts from my head.

You can sense when someone doesn’t want to be there. The look in the eyes gives it away. I saw that in Italy’s Andrea Belotti. He looked like he was saying, ‘S***, what am I doing here?’

Some don’t want to be there but still score because luckily the goalkeeper dives the wrong way.

A really good penalty, though, is when the goalkeeper goes the right way and still doesn’t get near it. Harry Kane’s was the perfect example because Gianluigi Donnarumma is not a small bloke. And Harry Maguire’s was probably one of the best penalties I’ve ever seen.

As told to Adrian Kajumba 

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