I'm sure it's marked in your calendars, etched in your brains. You might've had an anniversary notification pinged off by one of those friendly(?) social media admins. Hell, you might even have reset the clock entirely and made this Year One. 

And I wouldn't blame you, because there is a time before England had won a World Cup penalty shootout, and there is a time after, and the universe has never been quite the same since. So, with English World Cup penalty heartbreak of a different kind still fresh in the mind, let's return to that hazy summer of yesteryear.


The day was July 3rd, 2018. A Tuesday. And England were up against Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup. Yes, it was sunny. Of course it was sunny, it was sunny every day back then. And, yes, of course everyone else had already been through their last 16 turmoil.

The seven other quarterfinalists were set, and with it the stage for a dramatic final encounter.

And so the game started, and I'm sure things happened - some chances were missed, some fouls (in fact, a lot of fouls) produced, some passes mislaid, some saves forced - but nothing really begs recollection until the second half. 

Because, in the 57th minute, the first - but definitely not last - penalty would be taken, after Carlos Sanchez heedlessly brought down Harry Kane in a pre-corner maelstrom. And so the man himself stood up, and, despite some last-minute scuff marks from the Colombian rearguard, duly slotted the spot kick.


And so it stayed for basically the rest of the game. Basically. Except, 'basically' is not finite, and neither is the alotted time for a football match if it ends level, which is what happened after Yerry Mina crashed in a header in the dying seconds to, if not break, then strain English hearts. 



And so to extra-time, that time beyond time itself, where games can be won and lost, but mainly just drawn some more before the inevitable happens. This one was as inevitable as they come.

'Penalties. F@#*ing penalties,' murmured every Three Lions fan from behind their St George's Flag-draped sofas.


Radamel Falcao, that reject of both Manchester United and Chelsea descent, was up first. And, of course, he hammered it home. Straight down the middle.


Going nine for nine, it was then the turn of Kane. Scorer of that first penalty all those moons ago. Would Arsenal punchline David Ospina have the measure of him now? No, he wouldn't. How could he stop a penalty so powerful, it hit the net at the bottom left-hand corner, and immediately bounded up the back, lodging itself in the roof.

1-1. Again. 

So to Juan Cuadrado - yet another Chelsea flop. Surely not? As sure as day. Curling ever left; Jordan Pickford no chance.


Marcus Rashford. The teenage 21-year-old with 19 on his back. An extra-time substitute. Please don't ruin a promising career... GOAL! Cool as you like. Career saved. Unthinkable thoughts creeping in now...


Luis Muriel. Cooler still. Jose Pekerman can't watch.


Jordan Henderson. Clive Tyldesley saying 'he's not a regular penalty taker'. Nervy. A puff of the cheeks. Very nervy. SAVED by Ospina, low to his left. Unthinkable thoughts of a different nature clouding every mind across the country. To quote another not-so-popular commentator, Tears for Souvenirs?


3-2. Still.

Mateus Uribe. Still, Pinkerman can't watch... AT LAST he was right not to, Uribe over-eagerly thumping his effort right into the crossbar and back towards his teammates on the halfway line. 

3-2. STILL. 

Kieran Trippier. He can hit a free kick, can't he? Still, bone-crushing nerves.... Needlessly so! Kieran, you beauty. Like Cuadrado's, but curlier and truer. Best penalty of the lot. Dreams salvaged?


Carlos Bacca. The last of Colombia's five volunteers. He looks fresh? Oh wait, no, he looks nervous; massive drawing of breath. Still, he's a good ball-striker... But Pickford's a great ball-stopper! Bacca hits it true but Pickford's hand - or was it God's, finally giving back what he took all those years before? - was truer. Pickford's hand was firmer. Pickford's hand was... My God, we're almost there. Shit. How does this work?

3-3. History on the line. 

Eric Dier. 'Eric Dier?!??!?!' croaked every England fan in an attempted screech. And it was probably fair. The man had been torrid since coming on in the 81st minute. What was he doing here! Why was his name being readied for the potential record books? What right does he have to such an honour? Why should we place our fait-BECAUSE HE'S THE GREATEST PLAYER THAT'S EVER LIVED. GOAL. GOAL. GOAL.


Hoodoo: broken. Faith in the universe: restored. Gareth Southgate: Knighted. Shirts: off. Waistcoat sales: skyrocketed. Football: homeward bound. 

4-3. History made.