Nations League: England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford surprised to take penalty against Switzerland

Jordan Pickford

England penalty hero Jordan Pickford admitted he was surprised to be asked to take the fifth penalty in their shootout win over Switzerland in the Nations League.

Goalkeeper Pickford fired past opposite number Yann Sommer before saving Josip Drmic's kick as England finished third.

"The gaffer [Gareth Southgate] in extra time went 'number five', and I went 'oh wow'," he said.

"I'm not a normal penalty taker but I just relaxed and trusted my ability."

Following the 6-5 win on penalties, which followed a low-key goalless draw, the Everton keeper added: "We practise them consistently, I always pick my spot and I haven't missed one in training, but I had never taken one in a real game."

Captain Harry Kane was replaced by Callum Wilson in the 75th minute and Pickford said the Tottenham striker's absence may have adjusted the "pecking order".

"We took off Harry and some of the other lads who take penalties so I wasn't sure, but it's what you practise for," said Pickford.

"It's all about routine and making sure everything goes to perfection."

England manager Gareth Southgate said he was pleased to see Pickford convert his penalty because he could have "got it in the neck" had his goalkeeper missed.

"With the players that were left on the pitch he was one of the leading penalty takers and he executed it as well as he could," Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"We weren't against Jordan taking a penalty at the World Cup last summer, it was probably just that a few others had shown a better level but he would be among our better penalty takers.

"You feel a bit more nervous putting a goalkeeper on a penalty but he was there on merit."

No ceremony, just a bag of medals

After England lost the third-place play-off at the World Cup last summer, Belgium's players were presented with medals in an on-field ceremony.

England received medals of their own after beating Switzerland on this occasion, but they were handed over in a bag after the players left the pitch.

"I've not seen them yet," Southgate said. "It's quite ironic, really. We've had to go through another third/fourth play-off and this one we don't even get them in front of the fans. It's just lobbed to us.

"I remember some of the guys that were at Liverpool that I played with who said that Joe Fagan used to throw the medals down the back of the bus at the following pre-season and say, 'get on with it and, if you've played enough games, take one'.

"That probably would pretty much sum up where we'd be at with this.

"It's nice that we've got at least some acknowledgement for what we've done over the last year, but I think we'll all be parking it to one side and looking forward.

"We've all recognised that we've hit a certain level, but it's not a level we're satisfied with, and so we've got to go again."

Stones left out as he 'would have been in spotlight'

Southgate opted to leave out Manchester City defender John Stones after a poor performance against the Netherlands, with the manager suggesting his next international cap would come "after he has played a few games for his club and regained his confidence".

"It's always difficult to make changes but physically John hasn't had a lot of football and that showed in extra time the other night," he added.

"If he had started today we would have put him in the spotlight and every action would have been analysed."

Asked whether England had progressed in the last year since making their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years in 2018, Southgate said his side "couldn't have done any more other than the result on Thursday".

"That performance [against the Netherlands] wasn't disastrous but we just made fundamental mistakes," he added.

"None of us leave here happy and we wanted to win the trophy.

"We have been to two semis but we are not satisfied and that will whet the appetite for next summer.

"The drive I've seen from the players over the last couple of days has given me energy because I can see that the commitment is there to want to take it further with England - they're not satisfied with where they're at."

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