Alessia Russo banished all fear with the cheeky backheel that foxed Sweden | Jonathan Liew

Moments of inspiration are so rare at this level that the England striker’s semi-final goal was the last thing anyone expectedLook, we’ve all tried it. The skill itself is not the thing. Anyone who has ever kicked a football at any level has at some stage tried the cheeky backheel with which Alessia Russo foxed the Sweden defence at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night. It is a staple of playground kickabouts, five-a-side games and pre-match warm-ups the world over. And yet there seems to be an unspoken acceptance that as you travel up the echelons, such impertinences are ultimately left behind, for fear of waste and inefficiency, for fear of embarrassment, for fear of how it might look to everyone watching.Fear is one of the most underrated elements of elite football. It is why wingers try to squeeze in a cross instead of taking on a defender. It is why defenders hoof the ball clear rather than picking a pass through the lines. It is why moments of genuine inspiration are so rare at the top level. The bigger the stakes, the bigger the quantum of failure. Aversion to risk is what makes us human. And so as Russo gathers the ball in the Sweden penalty area with 22 minutes to play in the European Championship semi-final, pretty much the last thing anyone expects her to do is the thing she actually does.

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