Who Are England’s Best Penalty Takers?
After finally winning a World Cup penalty shootout in Russia in 2018, England have greater confidence if spot kicks are required in Qatar.
Penalty shootouts have generally been a source of pain for England fans.
Their first ever World Cup shootout win came against Colombia at the 2018 World Cup, and they followed that up by beating Switzerland in a Nations League shootout.
Since then, however, they heartbreakingly lost the Euro 2020 final from 12 yards against Italy.
Gareth Southgate’s team continue to make history. In the round of 16 in Qatar, they won a knockout match at a third consecutive major tournament for the first time ever.
As they hope to end their 56-year silverware drought, it’s a good time to take a look at the best penalty takers in Southgate’s squad.
1. Harry Kane
Unlike some previous England squads, the group in Qatar isn’t packed with regular penalty takers.
Harry Kane is by far the Three Lions’ most experienced and most reliable from the spot, with 62 of 72 scored in his career, including a perfect five from five in shootouts.
The Tottenham striker emphatically fired home with the first penalty against Italy in the Euros final.
Kane, however, has already missed a couple of penalties this season, and Kasper Schmeichel initially saved his effort in the Euros semi-final last summer.
If a shootout is required in Qatar, you would still expect Kane to step up first.
2. Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford stepped up third and missed in the Euros final, and he didn’t play again for England until the first game of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
His record from the spot remains very strong with 15 of 18 converted, however, and he has scored two of three in shootouts.
There isn’t a more recent track record for Rashford, as he hasn’t taken a penalty since that gutting night at Wembley.
His improved form for club and country could see him make Southgate’s final five in a potential shootout line-up this winter, though.
3. Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson doesn’t have much of a penalty-taking track record, plus it is hard to see how he lasts 120 minutes on the pitch if Southgate continues to start the veteran alongside Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice in midfield.
On the other hand, Southgate has repeatedly shown how much he values experience, and Henderson’s big-game knowhow will only be more important the later England go in the tournament.
After youngsters Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed at Wembley, could Southgate opt to put the pressure on some of his older players?
4. Callum Wilson
Despite replacing Kane in the Nations League playoff, Callum Wilson was left out of England’s five takers.
Wilson has scored 17 of 20 career penalties, but has only ever taken one in a shootout, which he scored against Newport County a couple of years ago.
It is fair to say the stakes will be somewhat higher if Wilson has to step up in Qatar, and in all likelihood, he will only be in contention for a spot kick if Southgate has a penalty-motivated substitution to make in the final minutes of extra time.
Would Southgate risk making such changes again?
5. Harry Maguire
There is a bizarre feel to Harry Maguire’s penalty-taking statistics. The much-maligned central defender has taken the most shootout penalties of anyone in the squad with nine, and he has never taken a penalty from regular play.
Maguire has missed three of those, which doesn’t exactly bode well, but his most recent failure to score was seven years ago against Accrington Stanley.
There were reasonable questions about Maguire’s confidence before this tournament.
He has again proven to be a much calmer performer with a Three Lions jersey on, however, and he has never let England down in a shootout, converting impressively against both Italy and Switzerland.
6. Bukayo Saka
Since missing the decisive spot kick against Italy at Euro 2020, Bukayo Saka has flourished for club and country.
After the disgraceful abuse that followed that miss, it would have been understandable if Saka steered clear of penalties.
Instead, he has embraced the responsibility, scoring from 12 yards against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. He has not missed a penalty since that final.
A player’s form might not count for much if it comes down to a shootout, but it is worth mentioning that Saka has held off others to become Southgate’s first choice on the right flank, and has three goals ahead of the quarter-final against France.
7. Kieran Trippier
Kieran Trippier has only scored three of five career penalties, but he has scored all three in shootouts, including a thumping finish against Colombia.
Trippier could yet return to the starting XI if Southgate opts to return to the back three.
If experience becomes a factor in decision making for a penalty line-up, Trippier has that on his side with his involvement in several major tournaments.
He might not be a regular from the spot, yet the Newcastle man is no stranger to the intense environment of a World Cup shootout.
8. Trent Alexander-Arnold
Part of Trippier’s case is based on his pure ball-striking ability, and the same goes for Trent Alexander-Arnold. Like Trippier, Alexander-Arnold has taken three and scored three in shootouts.
He has controversially been an afterthought under Southgate, but the Liverpool full-back is very familiar with big-time knockout matches thanks to Liverpool’s numerous deep runs in the Champions League.
It would probably take an injury or two for Alexander-Arnold to be on the pitch for a shootout. It’s hard to envisage Southgate introducing him as a penalty-inspired sub.
9. James Maddison
Kane, Rashford and Wilson are the only players in the squad to have taken more penalties than James Maddison.
The much-hyped Leicester City attacking midfielder has only scored 10 of his 14 efforts, but he also doesn’t seem like the kind of personality to get spooked by the pressure of a shootout.
Maddison is a candidate to come off the bench late in extra time for a spot kick.