The nerve-wracking Euro 2012 quarter-final between England and Italy yesterday was notable for what we think is the first use of an iPad by an English footballer during a match. Tech fans will have noticed the Apple gadget in the gap between extra time and the penalty shootout.
England and Man City keeper Joe Hart, who had previously boasted of studying every Italian penalty for the last decade, did some last-minute revision on an iPad, brought out by England’s backroom staff. But it was to no avail, as the young player failed to stop any of Italy’s shots. (Although Riccardo Montolivo fired his penalty well wide of both keeper and goal.)
Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, meanwhile, who according to the BBC commentators had spent his preparation time locked in his hotel room watching ‘naughty movies’, stopped a weak kick from Ashley Cole, after another Ashley, Manchester United’s Young, had fired his kick against the crossbar.
It should be emphasised, however, that other than the shootout, England’s young keeper was superb all night, and the team wouldn’t have made it to penalties if not for his heroics.
Detailed preparation for penalty shootouts is nothing new, incidentally, even if we haven’t seen many players doing this pitchside on an iPad. Nottingham Forest’s Mark Crossley was famous for keeping a filofax full of penalty kick data, and was the only keeper to stop a Mark Le Tissier spot kick.