With England having a rare penalty win in the World Cup, John McGowan considers what shoot-outs tells us about national prowess .
Though football is, perhaps briefly, looking like it’s coming home, until recently there seemed an inevitability about England bombing if a match came down to penalties. Now, not only have Columbia been vanquished from the spot, but manager Gareth Southgate seems on the road to redemption following past ignominy. This could all end very abruptly of course, and spirits of Waddle, Pearce, Cole and Southgate (1996 version) may yet rise up again in pizza adverts and infamy. We are all too familiar with pessimism, rising to inflated expectations, punctured by a lacklustre performance. The the curse of the shoot-out may yet strike again. Football, and penalties in particular, seem inextricable bound up with and English sense of being on top or, rather more frequently, a story of national decline.So is England’s penalty history a good guide to our national excellence?