It was an embarrassing fact Declan Rice would rather not have been brought up, although he probably knew it was coming as England prepare to face Germany on Tuesday. “Three different tournaments at Chelsea as a kid, three different chances to win it for our team and I missed all three … it doesn’t sound very good,” admitted the West Ham midfielder.
Rice’s record in penalty shootouts may not inspire confidence ahead of the Euro 2020 showdown at Wembley, although he did score from the spot during the victory over Sheffield United in February before missing after just 124 seconds – the earliest in Premier League history – against West Brom in May. Yet the 22-year-old who is expected to start in central midfield at Wembley insisted he has learned from his experiences and is ready to step up if required to take a penalty against Joachim Löw’s side.
“I’ve been practising all season for West Ham and when I came here,” he added. “It’s just about the process in my head – when the ref blows his whistle you don’t have to go immediately. Just give yourself that extra couple of seconds – you know breathing techniques – just to relax yourself. It’s all about visualisation and knowing how you’re going to put the ball in back of the net. They are things I’ve started to develop as I’ve got older. If my name is called upon to go out there and do it I’m positive I can put the ball away.”
Rice’s memories of England v Germany matches at major tournaments are dominated by watching Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as an 11-year-old. But he has seen clips of Gareth Southgate’s infamous penalty miss at Euro 96 and believes that experience is acting as extra inspiration to the England manager.
“It’s tough. I’m sure that Gareth is going to want to get his own revenge in that aspect as well,” he said. “Obviously he missed a penalty but everyone has missed a penalty – I missed one two days before the end of the season. That’s football. But for Gareth, I’m sure he is ready and of course he is going to set us up to go out there and win. I hope that we can do that so he gets his own revenge.”
While Rice joked he had been “a lost soul” in the absence of his friend Mason Mount after the Chelsea midfielder was forced to quarantine for 10 days, he revealed that his decision to come off Twitter during the rest of the tournament had been taken after the opening victory after Croatia in order to retain his focus. “I like to go on Twitter. Like a fan, I like to read stuff,” he said.
“But I just thought that in this tournament it’s best for me to focus fully on the tournament and myself. Sometimes you can read things and it puts doubts in your mind about your ability. So I’ve had to come off it just so I can focus on myself and of course the team.”
Meanwhile, Phil Foden believes he has yet to produce his best at this tournament. The Manchester City forward was left out of the starting lineup against the Czech Republic because he was cautioned in an earlier match but is in contention to return against Germany in the continued absence of Mount. “To be honest, I expect a lot more from myself, but I’m not going to be too harsh,” he told a Uefa liveblog on Friday. “I didn’t really get involved in the games as much I would have liked. Hopefully I can get the opportunity to play again and show what I am about.”
Foden added: “I feel like I’ve still got so much more to show this tournament … For my club, I’ve been scoring a lot of goals and I just want to continue that form into the national team. And I believe that, hopefully in the next game, I can start getting involved in the goals.”