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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Saving penalty with a smile, the Curtis Anderson way

Taking a penalty always part of the plan and I also practice penalties, says England goalie Curtis Anderson, hero of the win over Japan in the FIFA U-17 World Cup Round of 16.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 18, 2017 19:01 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,Curtis Anderson
England goalkeeper Curtis Anderson was their hero in the FIFA U-17 World Cup Round of 16 match against Japan in Kolkata.(PTI)

As Tuesday’s pre-quarterfinal in the FIFA U-17 World Cup moved to penalties and Yukinari Sugawara stepped up to take Japan’s first shot, Curtis Anderson smiled.

The England goalkeeper would do that and keep chatting every time an opponent stepped up to take the spot kick. Goalkeepers’ antics during penalties to rile shooters aren’t unusual – Jerzy Dudek’s hip shakes during what is known as the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ in 2003 would perhaps occupy pole position -- but to see someone beaming on the goalline certainly is.

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Slip-up in Europe

More so since England and tie-breakers have the kind of history that would make a lot of goalies get wobbly legs. Anderson was on the bench on a May night this year when England lost to Spain on penalties and missed being European U-17 champions. The boy who stood in goal, Josef Bursik, that night is the only player to not get a game so far in the U-17 World Cup. Anderson had also watched England’s Rhian Brewster hit the post and Joel Latibeaudiere miss from the spot.

Asked whether that night was playing on his mind, Anderson said: “Well, we didn’t think about losing on penalties, choosing instead to focus on ourselves and pick a side (to dive).”

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: England held goalless by gritty Japan, win on penalties

Anderson, who is with Manchester City, saved Hinata Kida’s shot which was Japan’s third. Next up, he took England’s fourth penalty and converted.

“That was always part of the plan. I was supposed to take a shot and when I train personally, I practice penalties. But I wouldn’t like to take a penalty in normal time.”

Anderson stops, scores

Speaking about the penalties after the game, coach Steve Cooper had said Anderson taking a shot was “very much part of the plan. We do have a strategy and whoever is in the list and on the pitch will take a shot.”

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Anderson’s save and conversion made the difference between flying to Goa for the quarterfinal and going home. And he did that in front of 53,302 people who were making quite a noise. “I didn’t really notice the crowd during the penalties, I am in the mould myself and I didn’t really hear them. But the crowd here is really very good, I mean the number of people who have turned up here for games,” said Anderson.

Should Anderson again play in front of such a crowd, it would be on the last day of the tournament, October 28. “Yes, I would like to be back but we will take games as they come.”

First Published: Oct 18, 2017 18:56 IST