Former Ipswich and Bury Town goalkeeper praised for role in World Cup penalty success
- Credit: PA
Jordan Pickford may have grabbed the headlines with his penalty shoot-out heroics for England on Tuesday night, but fellow goalkeeper Nick Pope deserves a slice of the credit.
That’s the view of England midfielder Eric Dier, who fired home the winning spot kick to book England’s spot in the quarter-finals after Pickford had saved superbly from Carlos Bacca
Soham-born former Ipswich and Bury Town goalkeeper Pope, in Russia as Gareth Southgate’s third-choice goalkeeper, has played a vital role in England’s preparation for penalty shoot-outs in training, with Dier insisting the 26-year-old deserves plenty of credit for his winning effort in Moscow.
“I didn’t really think about the history of (England’s penalty heartbreak) because we were so well prepared,” Dier said.
“Personally I’ve been having a little competition with Nick Pope the goalkeeper. He deserves all the credit because he’s the one who’s helped me prepare for penalties.
“It’s difficult to score penalties past him because he’s huge, he helped me a lot.”
Pickford has faced criticism during the tournament in the wake of a perceived error for Adnan Januzaj’s goal for Belgium in the group stage, but Dier believes he silenced his doubters.
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“Jordan (Pickford) is a fantastic goalkeeper and deserves everything,’ Dier added.
“His attitude is brilliant and he’s been brilliant in training and taken it into the game.
“To get knocked down like we did is difficult to come back from. We knew what we had to do and we stayed calm. We never panicked. We were ready for that.”
England now take on Sweden on Saturday afternoon for a place in the World Cup semi-finals, where the winners will take on either Croatia or Russia on Wednesday for a spot in the final.