I don’t want to sound like an arrogant know-it-all here, but I was certain Harry Kane would miss his first penalty against France – and I was just as certain he would miss his second.
When I watch a game on TV, I can tell almost 100 percent if a player will win from penalties.
I’ve been taking penalties for years and like anyone who gets the job done on a regular basis, I’ve missed a few.
Watching England lose to France in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, I thought Kane looked laser focused after that first penalty, although there was a long delay and he decided to rediscover the ball.
Of course, he hammered it home branded.
But second, something was wrong with his breathing and his eyes were everywhere. I wasn’t surprised when he drove it.
I would like to know what his heart rate was. My guess is a constant 85-100 bpm for the first and even 145-160 for the second.
None of this is meant as a dig at Kane — anything but.
He is now England’s all-time leading goalscorer and one of the most consistent penalty takers you will ever see.
I heard from someone at Spurs that if Harry has a match on Saturday he will have decided by Tuesday where he will take a penalty.
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What he probably hasn’t done is ponder the prospect of a second penalty in the same game.
Only two or three times in my career have I taken two penalties in the same game.
Just a few months ago in Hull I took a penalty and then lofted the second.
Getting a second penalty can really mess you up.
And I’m talking about Hull versus Birmingham in the Championship when we won 2-0.
Not England versus France in a World Cup quarter-finals, late in the game when Kane would surely have thought, “If I miss this, we’re out.”
He would have felt that a nation was forcing him to score and the whole world would be watching him.
Something was wrong with his breathing and his eyes were everywhere. I wasn’t surprised when he drove it.
Troy Deeney on Harry Kane’s miss
The pressure, the spotlight, and the responsibility of taking on that second must have been immense.
Then there’s the fact that Kane was up against Hugo Lloris, his friend of ten years and team-mate, a guy he will have conceded thousands of penalties against – that’s an added complication that will have been messing with his mind.
There’s nothing like the pressure to take a penalty. It’s the loneliest feeling in football.
Even if there is a strong camaraderie in your team, it is all at your expense.
As a footballer, especially as a forward, so much is instinctive and relies on good technique – but not when it comes to kicking from 12 yards.
Then it has a lot more to do with mentality – and the psychology behind it is fascinating.
I’ve had a lot of team-mates tell me it’s easy to take penalties. And it’s like that at the training ground.
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England had no real equivalent support for Harry Kane in Qatar and Brentford’s Toney is the best long-term contender.
He is also the only Englishman to be better at penalties than the captain.
Three Lions lack left-backs and Toney’s Bees team-mate is a great option – he’s excellent on offense but also reliable on defence.
The Crystal Palace striker is a tightrope walker and could become Raheem Sterling’s long-term successor.
But when you take a penalty in a game, even a normal league game, you have so much time to think – a minute, sometimes two or more.
It can feel like an out-of-body experience, like you’re not really you, almost like you’re looking down on yourself.
You start thinking if your family is watching, all sorts of things.
In this case you have to reset yourself. Breathing techniques help.
One I learned was from the SAS, which is designed for when you dive into extremely cold water – four short breaths, four long breaths. That can help.
Probably the toughest penalty I’ve ever taken was for Watford against Wolves in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley in 2019 when we were 2-1 down in the 94th minute and had a chance to force extra time.
It’s still not a World Cup quarter-finals, but it was a huge moment for my club and me.
MORE PRACTICE AHEAD
There was a big delay before I took this. And I suddenly felt my left leg shaking uncontrollably.
This has never happened to me before or after. I had to stomp my leg three or four times to get rid of the tremor before I could concentrate.
I scored and we ended up winning 3-2, but the experience of missing a penalty – especially one that costs your team – hits you in the gut like nothing else.
Once Kane is back in training I’m sure he’ll be practicing penalties even more than usual.
Kane will have to wait two weeks before playing his next game at Brentford on Boxing Day.
He’ll wish it was sooner just to score that next goal, get that next penalty. Only then can he even begin to get that miss out of his system.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6934262/harry-kane-world-cup-penalty-france-deeney/ I knew Harry Kane would miss the second penalty in the World Cup Quarterfinals against France because of two telltale signs, Deeney says