Robert Lewandowski has a few goalscoring claims to fame with club and country.

One in particular has caught the attention of David James as he looks at the knockout stage of Euro 2020.

And it is one reason why he hopes England can maintain the solid look they showed during the group stage.

The former England goalkeeper has studied the numbers and knows the score when it comes to success in the Euros.

He points out having the Golden Boot winner does not necessarily equate to taking home gold medals.

This was, of course, all said before yesterday's flood of goals in the last 16.

But, as he emphasised sitting in the unlikely surroundings of what they call The Din – the noisy home end at Whitehawk – it is keeping goals out which gives something to shout about.

“In the last four tournaments the winners have only conceded one goal in the knockout stages,” he says.

Lewandowski scored it. For Poland against Portugal five years ago.

Portugal conceded just one in four knockout games in France in 2016.

(Or the equivalent of five games given three of those matches went to extra-time).

In the three previous tournaments, the overall winners all kept three clean sheets out of three in knockout action.

That was Spain in 2012 and 2008 and Greece in 2004.

So there is something to be said for a group stage which saw England not concede a goal and barely even a chance.

“The group stage was brilliant for England.” James said.

“It’s all about confidence in a tournament. If you’re building confidence from the back, don’t underestimate how watertight our defence has been so far.

“That should hopefully spread through the rest of the side.

“They can begin to play more expansively when they know the guys behind them are doing their jobs.”

James believes there are German weaknesses to exploit and mentions the goals they have conceded.

He has been impressed by Jordan Pickford in goal for England and is confident they can challenge for the trophy.

It is not a competition in which they have a great history.

Portugal in 2004, with an experienced team topped off by young sensation Wayne Rooney, feels like the last time they might have had a big chance.

Maybe should have won it.

“I don’t think you can say that,” he replied.

“We were knocked out on penalties by Portugal and then they lost to Greece.”

Things were different back then – before social media and playing a fair distance from home.

Players were more detached from excitement in the country.

James can see that but said: “Yes, but they can still detach themselves from it now if they want to.

“You don’t have to have your phone on.

“You don’t need to be checking social media.

“But players everywhere have their rituals. Players here at Whitehawk will have their rituals.

“My advice would be, if that is part of your ritual, stick to it. Do what makes you feel comfortable.”

James was certainly comfortable in his surroundings as he enjoyed a sunny afternoon in East Brighton Park.

He was there to front the Football Rebooted scheme, which encourages people to donate pre-worn football boots and trainers to families who cannot afford new pairs.

But that is not doing it justice because James is fully invested in the scheme, which is run by Hawks’ shirt sponsors Utilita.

He walked into Whitehawk with a pair of luminous boots to donate.

“We have many discussions with Utilita before these things happen.

“I don’t just turn up to front it.

“The proof of the pudding is, without telling Utilita, I applied for my bag (in which to place donated boots).

“I was waiting and then I realised so many people had applied I had to wait my turn. Now the bags have arrived and I’ve got boots ready to go.”

James was speaking on Community Day at the club.

He noticed details as he walked in.

The sloping pitch on which he would play later, of course. Everyone notices that.

But also the Whitehawk Foodbank taking donations at the gate.

James said: “That’s the beauty of it. What Utilita are trying to do, environmentally and for grass roots football clubs, is stuff that I believe in.

“Stuff I champion in a sense.

“Whitehawk have got a recycled football kit.

“Now that might sound obvious.

“I was coaching in Thailand a few years ago and the guys produced these recycled T-shirts.

“I was like, ‘You could make a football kit out of this’ and they said, ‘Yes, you could make anything you want’.

“That was a few years ago and I thought, ‘Why doesn’t football do that?’.

“If you look at football, the environmental impact is quite staggering in a negative way.

“Yes, people keep their old kits, but it’s a throw-away industry.

“The boots are changed and upgraded every few months, it would seem.

“These boots end up on landfill quite often or just not being used.

“With Football Rebooted, we have come down to Whitehawk and a club who have a recycled football kit.

“It’s an environmental marriage made in heaven.

“Football clubs should represent the community and the community should embrace the football clubs. That’s how it should work.

“At grass roots, it’s probably more defined than in the Premier League, where clubs have followers from across the globe.

“When I was at Watford, the squad members who weren’t playing used to go and visit Watford General Hospital before games.

“We’d go and visit the kids’ ward every Saturday.

“That community relationship was very much in force there. We did so many things.

“It wasn’t until I went to Portsmouth that I found a club who had similar values.

“When you come to a club like Whitehawk you sense the community actually feels like the football club has their interests at heart.


“The no-swearing policy! They are little things but you can understand why people around the community would love the football club.”

For community and club – and country, of course, at tournament time.

“I’m an England fan now,” says the 48-times capped keeper.

“England are going to win the Euros - until someone beats them! I’m confident.”