A squad insider has told the Druid’s Loom that Southgate consulted senior players following their final training session on Sunday afternoon – before their inevitable bore-draw against World Cup minnows, Tunisia, on Monday.
First to be offered the distinction of taking the fateful penalty was team-captain, Harry Kane. Unfortunately, after thirty seconds of careful deliberation, nobody could understand a word that he had mumbled – but it was assumed that he had declined the offer.
Just as it seemed that nobody was prepared to step up to the plate, Manchester City hot-shot and media punch-bag, Raheem Sterling, seized the mantle and told his shocked colleagues that he would – take one for the team – and miss a penalty whenever necessary.
In his typical fastidious style, Southgate then instructed the entire squad to sign a document signalling their support for Sterling in the all-important penalty role, as he feared that Kane may appeal, and try to claim the dishonour for himself, via a disputes panel.
Pundits and former players have praised Southgate’s proactive approach to planning England’s inevitable exit in the second round. Former penalty bungler and mullet aficionado, Chris Waddle, is ecstatic that lessons are finally being learned:
“Back at Italia 90 I first discovered that I was down to miss a penalty when the final whistle was blown, and the gaffer came on to the pitch with a list of names. It really put me under a lot of pressure. I was terrified that I would mess up and actually score,” he told us. “Thankfully, I missed it comfortably, and the rest is history. However, it was more luck than planning. If these lads find out who is to condemn England to another early exit while they are still in the group stages, then it should take a lot of pressure off,” he added.
If all goes according to plan, England are expected to depart from the World Cup via penalty-shoot-out against Argentina on the 1st July