SPOT-KICK sensation Tim Krul revealed he fine-tuned his penalty mind games while starring for Newcastle United.
Krul became an instant World Cup legend when he helped Holland into the semi-finals with a stunning cameo against Costa Rica on Saturday night.
The goalkeeper came on as a substitute in the last seconds of extra time especially for the penalty shoot-out after the quarter-final had ended goalless.
And he produced two brilliant saves to deny Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana while the Dutch converted all of their spot-kicks to set up a meeting with Argentina in the last four.
The decision by Holland boss Louis Van Gaal to remove No1 goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen in Salvador paid off handsomely – despite Krul having a less than spectacular record at saving penalties with Newcastle.
The 26-year-old has saved from Frank Lampard for the first-team in a Premier League game against Chelsea at St James’s Park, and from David Dunn in a game against Blackburn in 2012, but had let in another 18 efforts.
However, he did have success as a youngster for United’s youth team in a shoot-out win over Stoke at Kingston Park in 2005 – where he also stepped forward to score the winner.
But despite his mixed record, Krul insists the tips he picked up against Lampard stood him in good stead when it came to psyching out the Costa Rica players.
Krul was seen engaging in mind games, telling the penalty-takers he knew which way they were going to shoot and wandering across his box while they were preparing their run-up.
“I watched them (Costa Rica) against Greece and studied them and I told the players that I knew where they were going to shoot to make them a bit nervous.
“Maybe it worked. It happened before when I played against Frank Lampard. I told him that I knew and I saved it.
“I just tried that again. I’m so happy it worked.
“I have realised a dream. What I’ve experienced is an incredible emotion.
“Van Gaal had warned me. It was something prepared and I knew that I would have this chance.”
However, despite his heroics, Krul will have to settle for a place on the bench again on Wednesday when the Dutch take on Argentina in the semi-final, with the winners facing either Brazil or Germany.
Van Gaal promised Cillessen – who, unlike Krul, was not told of the planned change for the shoot-out – that he remains his first choice for the semi-final.
“There is no question about who will start next game, it will be Cillessen,” he said. “But we felt Krul was the better choice here.
“We told Krul that he would be a possibility for the penalties, but we didn’t tell Cillessen, as we didn’t want to ruin his preparation.”
The decision took Cillessen by surprise, and he reacted angrily to the substitution.
The Ajax shot-stopper stormed off and kicked out at several water bottles before taking his place on the bench but once Krul had made two decisive saves to ensure a 4-3 win on penalties after a goalless draw, Cillessen was among the first to rush on to the field to congratulate his replacement.
And afterwards, he apologised for his initial outburst.
“I want to apologise,” said the 25-year-old.
“I’ve already done to Frans Hoek (the Dutch goalkeeper coach) and I will do so to the whole squad. I knew nothing about this. The change was a shock to my system.”
Krul, meanwhile, paid tribute to Cillessen, who produced a brilliant block from Marco Urena deep in extra time to ensure the game went to a penalty shoot-out.
“In the 119th minute, Jasper made a fantastic save that if he had not pulled off would have meant we would be going home,” Krul said.