England may not have got the result they wanted in their penalty shootout with Italy, but you can’t fault the efforts of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
The Everton stopper had a stellar tournament, keeping five clean sheets on his way to the Golden Glove award.
He was unfortunate not to keep out Italy’s equaliser in Sunday’s final too, after pushing the ball onto the post only for Leonardo Bonucci to finish off the loose ball.
Down to the shootout and Pickford got England off to a great start as he saved from Andrea Belotti on spot kick no.2.
And when he kept English hopes alive by denying Jorginho, there was a sense he could well be the nation’s hero.
Sadly it wasn’t to be, as his opposite number Gianluigi Donnarumma had the last laugh in the Italy goal.
But Pickford’s return of two saves from five penalties faced was impressive – and it has now emerged that he used the same trick as he did in the 2018 World Cup to remember his pre-match research.
For at the side of his goal, Pickford left his water bottle, upon which he had stuck a list of Italy’s penalty takers and details of what appeared to be their favoured side to shoot.
In the pictures you can only see the names of players who didn’t take a spot kick, but there were more names on other sides of the bottle.
Each time it was Donnarumma’s turn to save, Pickford would check the information on the bottle in anticipation of what was to come.
Unfortunately, Italy’s No.1. was clearly well prepared too, as he psyched out Marcus Rashford – who hit the post – before saving from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.
England boss Gareth Southgate has faced some criticism for his selection of takers after three of the five failed to score, but he took full responsibility.
“It’s down to me,” Southgate said. “I decided on the penalty takers based on what we’ve done in training.
“Nobody is on their own. That’s my call and it totally rests on me.”
He added: “They were the best takers we had left on the pitch.
“We win and lose together.”
Footage which emerged online also appeared to show that Pickford would have been the next player to take a penalty if it went to sudden death, ahead of Kalvin Phillips.
Who would have been your five penalty takers for England? Let us know in the comments below.
That means the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish were way down the list, despite the latter claiming he wanted to take one.
Pundit Roy Keane had criticised the pair for not volunteering, saying after the game: “If you’re Grealish or Sterling, you can’t have a young kid step up in front of you.
“You can’t sit there and say ‘I see a 19-year-old kid walk in front of me, when I’ve played a lot more games, a lot more experience…
“I’m not saying he (Saka) wasn’t prepared, he might have been (penalty taker) six or seven, (but) you can’t sit there. It must be hard to take. You’ve got to get in front of this kid and say ‘listen, I’m gonna step up in front of you’.”
Grealish did hit back at Keane on social media, writing: “I said I wanted to take one!!!! The gaffer has made so many right decisions through this tournament and he did tonight!
“But I won’t have people say that I didn’t want to take a peno when I said I will…'”