Moments define international football. From David Trezeguet’s Golden Goal at Euro 2000 to Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt - entire tournaments are often remembered by just one era-defining moment. For England’s resurgent Three Lions, the player who has produced the most iconic moments over the past two tournaments has not been Golden Boot winner Harry Kane - but Kieran Trippier.
I was in Manchester’s fan-park at Castlefield Bowl in 2018 for the World Cup semi-final, with thousands of others - but every single person reading this will remember exactly where they were when Trippier’s free-kick hit the back of the net, just five minutes in. A moment in time that is forever branded onto the brains of followers of the Three Lions, created by England’s right wing-back.
That was England’s greatest World Cup moment since 1966 and a whole generation of fans who had nothing to cheer for decades, were finally given something truly spectacular to remember. This particular writer then had to stand covered in beer for two hours as it all fell apart, but that moment when the ball hit the back of the net will never leave me.
Few would imagine he would give us another spectacular moment just three years later, this time in the Euro 2020 final. He was not the scorer, but instead the provider, as his perfect cross found Luke Shaw who gave England another memorable early lead. The Three Lions have only ever scored five goals in major finals and four of them came in 1966. This was another truly special moment.
For his role in these two goals alone, Trippier will forever be remembered as an England international. Yet, he still seems like the underrated man at the bottom of the list when it comes to talk about Gareth Southgate’s options at right-back. Kyle Walker has been an incredible servant and his pace is so important to England, Reece James is a talented option at wing-back given his performances for Chelsea in that position and Trent Alexander-Arnold is a quality attacking performer for his club, but is yet to show the defensive consistency needed at international level.
Trippier is the most experienced, a reliable option for Southgate to call upon on the right or left, and is the best defender of any of the right-backs mentioned. He also has an excellent set piece delivery and can hit a free-kick, as we found out in 2018. His club career has also taken off in recent years and now, he looks set for a return to the Premier League with Newcastle United.
Perhaps playing out in Spain has wrongly pushed him out of the media spotlight but under one of the great defensive coaches in world football, Diego Simeone, he has won La Liga and improved as a player. The 31-year-old played in a Champions League final for Spurs before his Spanish expedition and it is obvious that the North Londoners have failed to adequately replace him since his departure.
For £25m, Newcastle are getting a world class right-back, who can comfortably play as a wing-back and has a deadly set piece delivery. Importantly for the Magpies and Eddie Howe, this is an incredibly sensible first signing under their new owners. He isn’t the biggest name in the world, but he will drastically improve their defence with both his ability and leadership, and he should be able to help them move away from the relegation zone, along with other signings.
When you compare his signing to Manchester City’s first signing, when they dramatically bought Real Madrid’s Robinho for £35m - this feels like a much more logical addition, rather than just a big name. Trippier has given England fans the best moments of their lives over the past few years, and now the Geordies will hope he can deliver them some equally special performances. It’s safety first, on all fronts for the Magpies. As a risk-averse signing to secure survival, Trippier makes perfect sense.