It had been 12 years since
Belgium’s only previous penalty shootout, a 5-4 victory against Spain, in the
1986 World Cup quarter-final, in Puebla, following a 1-1 draw, after extra
time. They had yet to miss a kick. England had won their first
penalty shootout, two years earlier, in the European Championship
quarter-final against Spain, but had followed it four days later, with their
second semi-final defeat on penalties, once again losing to a German team,
which would go on to win the tournament.
Philippe Van der Walle (Eendracht
Aalst and Belgium), aged 36.
Nigel Martyn (Leeds United and
England), aged 31.
Van der Walle was making only his
3rd international appearance for Belgium.
Martyn was winning his 7th cap and
had faced only one penalty for England before, with Salas converting for Chile
Eric Van Meir (aged 30) – Lierse
2) Vital Borkelmans (aged 34) – Bruges
Mbo Mpenza (aged 21) - Standard Liege
Enzo Scifo (aged 32) – Anderlecht
5) Phillippe Van der Walle (aged 36) - Eendracht Aalst
Van Meir had scored in the World
Cup qualifying campaign.
Borkelmans had helped Bruges win
the Belgian League Championship.
Mpenza had been a half-time
substitute for Goossens, after appearing for the last two minutes in their
first game of the tournament, against France, two days earlier, the only one
of the five kickers to make a second appearance.
Scifo was the captain and had
scored Belgium’s second successful penalty against Spain in the 1986 World
Cup quarter-final, but had hit the bar when faced with the same Spanish
goalkeeper at the 1990 World Cup.
Van der Walle was Belgium’s
1) Robert Lee (aged 32) – Newcastle
17th cap, 2 goals.
Scored 4 goals in the 1997-98
season and captained Newcastle United to the F.A. Cup Final.
Michael Owen (aged 18) – Liverpool
5th cap and became England’s
youngest scorer of the 20th century, two days earlier, with the only goal of
the first game of the tournament, against Morocco, his 24th of the season.
PFA Young Player of the Year and
Premiership joint-top scorer with 18 goals.
Scored 23 goals for Liverpool,
including 3 penalties.
Came on as a half-time substitute
for Phil Neville, having appeared as a 26th minute replacement in the first
David Beckham (aged 23) – Manchester United
15th cap, but no goals.
Scored 13 goals for Manchester
United as they finished as Premiership runners-up to Arsenal.
Came on as a 50th minute
substitute for Paul Gascoigne.
4) Paul Merson (aged 30) –
18th cap, 2 goals.
Scored 16 goals for club and
country as Middlesbrough reached the Coca-Cola Cup Final and finished as
Football League runners-up to Ipswich Town.
5) Les Ferdinand (aged 31) –
17th cap, 5 goals, but none since
Scored 5 goals for Tottenham
Hotspur in the 1997-98 season.
Played the last 11 minutes of the
first game, as well as completing the second.
His kick was his last touch of
the ball as an England international.
With the World Cup less than three
weeks away and with both sides having played two days earlier, it was never
going to be a truly competitive game, especially with the North African sun
bearing down on them. Neither side was at full strength. The
tournament was mainly an exercise to see as many squad players as possible
over the course of the two games, a chance for border-line individuals to
stake a last-minute claim for a place in the final 22 for France. At the
final whistle, players swapped shirts, not realising that drawn games had to
be settled by a penalty shootout. There was very little at stake, though
an England win would have given them a better chance of winning the
Shootout (Belgium first)
Lee shot saved by Van der Walle.
shot saved by Martyn.
Ferdinand shot saved by Van der Walle.
had scored, who would have taken England’s sixth penalty?
The biggest surprise of the
shootout was that Coventry City’s Dion Dublin, a 75th minute substitute for
the first-time captain, Sol Campbell, was not amongst the five penalty takers.
Though it was only his 3rd cap, he had scored from 7 penalties that season,
more than any other player in the side. He was also the Premiership’s
joint-top scorer and had netted 23 times in all competitions.
Furthermore, it was his kick which took Aston Villa into the F.A. Cup Final at
Wembley, two years later. Of the other players left on the field, only
Butt and Le Saux had scored that season. Paul Gascoigne, who had twice
scored in shootouts for England during the European Championship, two years
earlier, had limped off in the 50th minute, and was destined never to play for
his country again.
With so little riding on the
outcome, there was never going to be any lost sleep over the penalties and
subsequently very little pressure on the players. The biggest issue was
always going to be the performance of certain players. Nigel Martyn
probably played himself into the World Cup squad with his clean sheet, as well
as saving the first penalty from the experienced Scifo. Les Ferdinand,
however, did not have his best game and his missed penalty was thought to have
put the seal on his exclusion from the final 22, with Dion Dublin waiting to
pounce. Yet, it was Ferdinand who was given the nod, though he never
actually wore the England shirt again.
The Belgian ‘keeper, Van der Walle
took the acclaim by scoring himself and then saving Ferdinand’s effort, but it
was all merely a sideshow and quickly forgotten. He earned himself a
place in Belgium’s third game of the World Cup, whilst the penalty-takers for
both countries (Staelens and Shearer) returned for the main event.
Belgium stayed unbeaten, but went out at the group stage. England
promised much, but once again, suffered the all-too-familiar heartache of
defeat in a penalty shootout.