El Tel glows over courage of Pearce

Norman Fox hears a joyous England coach relive the shoot-out drama
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The Independent Online
Terry Venables spoke last night of his traumatic realisation that England were to become involved in the first sudden-death play-off in any major football championship, and of his admiration for the courage of Stuart Pearce - who missed a vital penalty in the 1990 World Cup semi- final shoot-out against West Germany - in volunteering to take a spot- kick.

The England coach said: "We were really testing the water. We got through the drama of the extra time, then I suddenly knew we had to go through another drama all over again - the penalties. But we took them very well, very smoothly, especially Stuart Pearce after his miss in the World Cup six years ago. It was an opportunity for him to put that behind him at last. It must have been a wonderful moment when he scored."

Pearce said: "I wasn't concerned about taking a penalty. I've still been doing it regularly for Nottingham Forest and was very confident. It was great when it went in, but it was too when all the other lads scored and then David Seaman made that save."

Venables felt the tactical change he made at half-time, moving Steve McManaman into the centre of the attack and letting Alan Shearer move wider, was important. He said: "I thought that did some damage after Spain had looked good in the first half and we were a bit below par. Our whole performance was a courageous one, a gutsy one. It was a lottery at the end but we stayed very calm for the penalties. We had been practising them in the week."

Venables added that David Seaman, who saved the fourth Spanish penalty to clinch the match, had again proved he was "a great goalkeeper and a great guy".

Seaman himself was the epitome of modesty, saying only: "I would rather save penalties than take them. The second one really tied me in knots but I guessed right with the last one. "

All of the players admitted that they were out on their feet in extra time. Darren Anderton said: "The boss just said that it would all go down to who wanted it the most." Steve Stone was not upset at being brought on too late to have any bearing on the outcome, but explained: "Sometimes it takes too long to adapt to a game if you make too many changes."

Javier Clemente, the Spanish coach, finished the week as he had begun, still being rude about England. He thought Spain were "by and large superior". Clemente added: "We dominated the match but we lacked a bit of spark. I thought Salinas's goal was valid and we should have had a penalty. We would have had a much better chance on a neutral ground." He was also critical of Paul Gascoigne for "jumping up and down during our national anthem."

However, Clemente was reluctantly gracious enough to say that, despite all the anti-Spanish comment that he had seen in the English press, he now hoped the host nation would go on to win the tournament.

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