The 32-year-old fired the Hammers into the lead with an early penalty in the team’s victory over Watford last weekend, yet Noble is adamant that he stays away from the spot in training.
“What I will say is that I never practise penalties — never, ever,” he wrote in his column for The Evening Standard. “If my team get a penalty in training I won’t take it.
“I can remember Sam Allardyce and Kevin Nolan being surprised when I told them, but it works for me. To be honest — and perhaps this may sound surprising — I feel a lot more relaxed and confident taking one in a game than at training. I’m not altogether sure why that is but it might be that I’m used to the scenario of taking the spot-kick in a match, rather than in training.”
This is an interesting one, isn’t it? You don’t hear players come out often and say they DON’T practise something – quite the opposite. With players who are free kick specialists, all they ever go on about is them staying behind after training to rifle set pieces into the top corner. However, Noble, who has a record of 36 out of 40 from the spot – as he outlines later in his column – claims he doesn’t practise penalties at all. That’s quite astonishing given how good he is at taking them. His logic, while not entirely faultless, does kind of make sense. He says that he’s now more used to taking penalties in the pressurised environment of a competitive game rather than the non-consequential arena of training. That does ring true, and it’s clearly been borne out in the results. He seems to relish taking the responsibility of trying to score for his team, and he usually does. It’s not often he’s denied, so if this is working for him then he should stick with it.