England penalty hero admitted he was surprised to be asked to take the fifth penalty in their shootout win over Switzerland in the Nations League.

Goalkeeper Pickford fired past opposite number Yann Sommer before saving Josip Drmic’s kick as England finished third.

“The gaffer [] in extra time went ‘number five’, and I went ‘oh wow’,” he said.

“I’m not a normal penalty taker but I just relaxed and trusted my ability.”

Following the 6-5 win on penalties, which followed a low-key goalless draw, the keeper added: “We practise them consistently, I always pick my spot and I haven’t missed one in training, but I had never taken one in a real game.”

Captain was replaced by Callum Wilson in the 75th minute and Pickford said the striker’s absence may have adjusted the “pecking order”.

“We took off Harry and some of the other lads who take penalties so I wasn’t sure, but it’s what you practise for,” said Pickford.

“It’s all about routine and making sure everything goes to perfection.”

‘He was there on merit’

England manager said he was pleased to see Pickford convert his penalty because he could have “got it in the neck” had his goalkeeper missed.

“With the players that were left on the pitch he was one of the leading penalty takers and he executed it as well as he could,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We weren’t against Jordan taking a penalty at the World Cup last summer, it was probably just that a few others had shown a better level but he would be among our better penalty takers.

“You feel a bit more nervous putting a goalkeeper on a penalty but he was there on merit.”

England were deserved winners in Guimaraes and Southgate paid homage to the travelling supporters who remained in Portugal following the semi-final defeat by the Netherlands on Thursday.

“We all wanted to go forward further and there was a determination to go out with a strong performance. We owed it to ourselves as a group and the 98% of the fans who have supported us incredibly.

“We recognise now that you don’t get many opportunities as an international team and we want to really strive to take the next step.”

Stones left out as he ‘would have been in spotlight’

Southgate opted to drop defender John Stones after a poor performance against the Netherlands, with the manager suggesting his next international cap would come “after he has played a few games for his club and regained his confidence”.

“It’s always difficult to make changes but physically John hasn’t had a lot of football and that showed in extra time the other night,” he added.

“If he had started today we would have put him in the spotlight and every action would have been analysed.”

Asked whether England had progressed in the last year since making their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years in 2018, Southgate said his side “couldn’t have done any more other than the result on Thursday”.

“That performance [against the Netherlands] wasn’t disastrous but we just made fundamental mistakes,” he added.

“None of us leave here happy and we wanted to win the trophy.

“We have been to two semis but we are not satisfied and that will whet the appetite for next summer.”


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