Frank Lampard has urged his England compatriots to concentrate in case of a penalty shootout in their Euro 2012 quarter-final against Italy.
The 34-year-old, who was agonisingly ruled out of Euro 2012 after suffering a thigh injury, has an exemplary spot-kick record for club and country and knows first-hand how pressurised the duty can be.
And as first-choice taker on the domestic and international front, the Chelsea midfielder has given his England team-mates some advice ahead of their first knock-out game of the tournament.
“It is the most nerve-racking experience in football and you need the balls and the confidence to handle it. The pressure is just so intense,” he said.
“Taking a penalty in a game is bad enough but, normally, if you miss in a match there’s still time to try and put it right.
“In a shootout there are no second chances. That’s it – it is the be all and end all and that adds to the pressure.”
Lampard has urged the Three Lions on show against the Azzurri to not allow their minds to wander and to block out all distraction if a shootout is required.
“Your mind is racing. You know the penalty taker is always expected to score. You can hear the opposition fans and you know they want you to miss. And you know the goalkeeper will have studied all your penalties and where you like to shoot,” he said.
“The important thing is to make up your mind well before you go forward. You must decide what you are going to do and then stick to it. Don’t ever change your mind.
“I try to go into ‘the zone’, to block out everything around me and just concentrate on what I’m going to do. Ignore the crowd, the antics of the opposition or the keeper. Block it all out and stick to your plan.”.
Despite being England’s most prolific penalty taker, with seven conversions, Lampard underlined the fine line between success and failure when facing a goalkeeper from 12 yards.
The Chelsea man has been handed the responsibility to net crucial spot-kicks in the past, most recently at the Allianz Arena as the Blues defeat Bayern Munich to win the Champions League final.
“Anyone can miss a penalty, even Lionel Messi. Luckily, I have done pretty well over the years for club and country,” he said.
“My toughest for England was at Wembley against Croatia in a Euro 2008 qualifier in 2007.
“We were 2-0 down at the time and so it was vital that I scored to try and get us back in the match. It was a full house at Wembley and I was anxious not to let the fans down. Thankfully, I scored but it wasn’t enough as we lost 3-2.”
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