Date of release: Thursday, June 14, 2018

England need to be desparate for penalties to end their spot-kick hoodoo, according to an expert in luck and chance from the University of Greenwich.

Dr David Luke, senior lecturer in psychology, says the nation's collective dread is costing England at crunch time.

"There's a feeling in this country that as soon as England go to penalties we're doomed," he says. "Research shows that people who believe in luck are luckier, and collective consciousness exists, even if it's on a small level.

"The pressure on the taker as well as the legacy of failure creates an unbearable burden. They're thinking 'I don't want to be the one to fail' rather than 'I'm going to be the hero.'

"We need to switch that around - do a deal where the team concentrates on technique so much that it ceases to be an issue. Our part, as a nation, is we have to want penalties, be gagging for them! Penalty shootouts are fine margins and every little helps.

"Superstition and ritual are common in football – lucky socks, for example. Superstition also increases in anxious and pressure situations, lucky mascots in exams are a good example. In the First World War the sales of lucky rabbits' feet went through the roof as soldiers took them to battle."

The national men's team has lost seven shoot-outs since 1990 and won once, v Spain in Euro 96 at Wembley.

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Notes to editors:

University of Greenwich has been providing higher education for over 125 years. It has over 20,000 UK and international students studying at three campuses in the UK, and an additional 17,000 students studying overseas.

University of Greenwich is a public, research university with four faculties: Architecture, Computing & Humanities; Business School; Education & Health; and Engineering & Science. It's part of the University Alliance group and is silver rated in the Teaching Excellence Framework.

The university operates across three campuses: Greenwich and Avery Hill in London and Medway in Kent. Its renowned research has been globally received and endorsed by nine Times Higher Education Awards and four Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher & Further Education.

Notable alumni include Nobel Laureate Sir Charles Kao, Blur musician David Rowntree and campaigner Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon.