4 July 2018
Dr Pippa Grange - a key role behind the scenes as England progressed to the World Cup Quarter Finals.
England finally ended a miserable World Cup hoodoo with a dramatic 4-3 penalty shoot-out win against Colombia on Tuesday night – with the help of top psychologist Dr Pippa Grange.
Gareth Southgate's Three Lions, went into the knockout match with the worst penalty shootout record in World Cup history, losing all three they had contested up to that point.
The omens did not look good when Yerry Mina's last-gasp injury-time leveller cancelled out Harry Kane's penalty opener for England to force extra time.
With the teams locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes, it came down to the drama of penalties. But this England team showed great resolve, resilience and inner strength to turn a 3-2 shoot-out deficit into 4-3 win thanks to the agility of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and precision penalty finish of sub Eric Dier, sparking wild scenes of celebrations in Russia and back home in the UK.
For Pippa, who only started work at The FA as Head of People and Development in January this year, the extent of her contribution behind the scenes along with the rest of the backroom staff was clear to see.
Hired by The FA to change the squad's "culture and mindset", she has become a key ally of the manager and is said to have boosted the players' 'psychological resilience' to the pressure of winning big matches. The national side have previously crashed out of big tournaments when key players cracked at crucial moments.
Pippa believes that the solution lies in getting players to admit to vulnerabilities in team meetings which she believes creates trust both on and off the pitch, which in turn leads to better performances individually and collectively.
It's fair to say that so far, so good as England now head into a Semi-Final showdown with Sweden on Saturday brimming with confidence and maybe, just maybe, daring to dream!
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