Kieran Trippier: “When you train with Sancho or Rashford, there are no fears”

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Kieran Trippier goes over some of his workout opponents and there are notes of admiration and exasperation. “When you’re a defender against Sancho or Rashford, Foden, Grealish, Calvert-Lewin… you can imagine it’s tough,” said the England full-back. “Bukayo [Saka] walked past me the other day and I wanted to grab it. ‘Where are you going?!’ “

Trippier focuses on the young guns of the attack in England, but there are also the bigger beasts – MM. Kane and Sterling – and, overall, that has been a testing ground. Quite relentless sometimes? Surely. Yet that’s just fuel for Trippier, the player Gareth Southgate calls his “warrior,” and that’s the thing. With internal competition so high, Trippier says there was nothing on the outside at Euro 2020 for him or his colleagues to lose sleep.

It’s a big reason why England approach Wednesday’s semi-final against Denmark at Wembley with a flawless defensive record – five matches, five clean sheets – and a growing sense that this could finally be their year.

“We have so much talent and when you train against these players every day… when you come on the field against the opposition, because the players that we have are world class, you are ready,” said Trippier. “When you train against these guys every day, there is no fear. “

Trippier, who started two of England’s games – left-back against Croatia and right-back against Germany – learned a thing or two about Diego Simeone’s defense at Atlético Madrid, the club he joined from Tottenham in the summer of 2019 Atlético have played a more forefoot style this season, which ended in a La Liga victory, with Trippier regularly pinned high on the right flank for the first attacker.

But Trippier does it very clearly. He has focused more on the defensive side and, for Simeone, that is what is fundamental. “Simeone makes sure you defend first and foremost – otherwise you’ll know it in the dressing room,” says Trippier.

Simeone has worked a lot with him on one-on-one things, on positioning, body shape, awareness of when to go forward and when to hold and, similarly, Trippier appreciates the attention of Southgate to defensive details.

“Gareth and the staff work so hard behind the scenes to set us up as a team,” says Trippier. “We do a lot of defensive work in training – three on two or six on four… where you stop crosses and your positioning is correct. We have worked very hard on this.

At 30, Trippier is one of the oldest statesmen on the team and he is happy to share his experience with the younger ones; to encourage them to “just have fun”. It is clear that his confidence and steely mentality were further hardened by the fact that he won a first trophy.

“It has been an amazing season and it motivates me to win more, even at my age,” said Trippier. “Coming back to England gives me real confidence and maybe I can share this experience with others who haven’t won things. Then again we have players who are winning trophies with their clubs now and they all have this winning mentality. “

Why is Trippier such a warrior? Because, he explains, he had to overcome so many obstacles. He didn’t reach the first team as a young player at Manchester City and even more recently he mentions missing the England squad for the Nations League final in 2019 and how ‘people said that it was a mistake to play abroad ”, especially in terms of his international outlook. “I am one of those people who like to go in the deep end,” he adds.

Trippier’s determination is evident when it comes to transference. He would be open to a return to England, with Manchester United among the clubs linked to him.

“I just enjoyed the season [at Atlético] and we won the title, ”he said. “I left with England, we play against Denmark and I’m not focusing on my club or what’s going on. I’m just focused on England and doing the best I can if I play. If I don’t play, I still give 100%.

What comes through is the assurance of Trippier, how relaxed he is in front of such a seismic tie. Maybe it’s because he’s been here before; He’s a 2018 World Cup semi-final veteran against Croatia when he scored that free kick before England lost 2-1.

“I don’t get nervous before games,” says Trippier. “Even in the semi-final against Croatia, I wasn’t nervous. It’s more than I can’t wait to go. There have been no regrets since 2018 and I think we have taken a step forward from there. We are in a position where we just want to create our own story.

It will be emotional, especially when Harry Kane presents an English jersey signed by the players with ‘Eriksen 10’ on the back to the Danes before kick-off. Trippier played for Spurs with Christian Eriksen, who is recovering from cardiac arrest in Denmark’s opener against Finland.

“You know,” said Trippier, stopping, a little overwhelmed. “It’s hard to express because I played with him; I was close to Christian. It’s just important that he’s here with us. I texted him, not right away, and what he said is private. We just want him to move forward with his recovery.


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