BLOEMFONTEIN - Once famed for saving penalties, Germany's Euro 96 winning goalkeeper Andreas Kopke is now saving words of wisdom for national number one Manuel Neuer ahead of Sunday's World Cup showdown with England.
Kopke, who broke English hearts by saving Gareth Southgate's semi-final spotkick to help lead Germany to Euro 96 success, is now the national keeper coach and a possible trump card if the same fate unfurls at the Free State stadium.
"Obviously everyone would prefer to avoid penalties but if it comes to that we will be prepared. Manuel Neuer will get the information that he will need so that we can move into the next round," Kopke told reporters on Saturday.
"But you cannot simulate penalty-taking. In a full stadium with the players after 120 minutes being completely out of power it is completely different. In training every paid footballer will hit and score every penalty."
Kopke's presence at Saturday's media conference was apt for a fixture with a fair share of penalty woes. Then-West Germany also beat England on penalties in a 1990 World Cup semi-final, that time without the help of Koepke.
Both departures are etched into England fans' minds and evidently the players too, who have been praticising spot kicks every day since coming to South Africa.
The Germans have done a spot of brushing up too, said Kopke, who won 59 caps for his country: "We do train penalties now and again before international matches."
Asked what those potentially World Cup-saving gems of information might be the former Nuremberg and Olympique Marseille player was not about give anything away.
"I will talk to him and we will see what comes out of that. But we need to keep some surprises for the match," he said.comments