A verse by celebrated English poet Rudyard Kipling hangs in the hallowed hallways at the home of the famous Wimbledon tennis championships. Taken from the poem 'If', the line reads:

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same..."

The words are designed to invoke the true spirit of sport, imploring players not to over-celebrate success, nor be totally consumed by despair at moments of failure and the inspirational line could easily apply to Czech Republic striker Tomas Pekhart after the past few days he has just gone through.

His moments of 'Triumph and Disaster' came, in fact, the other way round as he missed a penalty in the Round of 16 shoot-out against Japan in Victoria, then bounced back to convert what proved to be the decisive spot kick in the defeat of Spain in the quarter-finals at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

After giving FIFA.com an exclusive interview, it is apparent that both experiences have left the 1.9m-tall Tottenham Hotspur forward as level-headed as he has ever been.

Pekhart said: "When I missed against Japan and hit the post it was the hardest moment for me at this World Cup, that's for sure. I was so down, just devastated at the time. It's impossible to describe. To take a penalty, you have to choose just one point to aim for and you also need to be a little bit lucky, but I wasn't.

'Huge relief'
"As I came to take another penalty, I must have been a little bit more nervous than any of the other players but I took it and scored. It turned out to be the winning penalty and it was a huge relief. I didn't even consider hiding away and not stepping forward. I have a rule in my head that if you miss a penalty you should take another one as soon as possible to get over it and change your feelings about it all. That's what I managed to do and if you want to be a great player you have to show character like this and be strong."

He added: "We had a very difficult group and our first game was against the holders, Argentina, and they are one of the biggest favourites. Of course, coming up against Spain in the quarter-final was an even harder match because if you lose, you go home. Before the tournament we said it would be a success for us to get into the Round of 16 and now we are over that limit, so it's even bigger than that now.

"I played against Spain last year in the U17 European Championship semi-final, so I have beaten them twice and I have had good experiences of facing them."

Before the match, Czech Republic coach Miroslav Soukup told FIFA.com that he does not care how his team goes through, even if it is on penalties every time, but when he was asked, tongue-in-cheek, if his boss sends out the team to try to force it all the way to a shoot-out on purpose, Pekhart burst out laughing and said: "No, no, no!"

Looking ahead to the semi-final in Edmonton on Wednesday, Pekhart said: "It will be tricky against Austria. When we took on Spain we were the underdogs but perhaps we will be the favourites because last year we beat them at the European Championship, so I guess people will expect us to do it again. I watched those finals on television back at my home in London last summer. I was always thinking and hoping: 'Come on boys, get me to Canada!" but I had no idea if I would be here. I didn't know what to expect because I have never been at a World Cup before.

Goal prediction
"It is so open now. For example, USA were another of the favourites and yet Austria beat them because they played so well. I wanted Austria to win that match because if you look at a map you will see that we are neighbours, although I was surprised that they managed to do it. USA performed so strongly in their group and I thought they might be tougher opponents for us.

"There has been a lot of excitement and reaction back home after our run here so I hope that will continue. It's possible that we can win it now but there's a long way to go. I predict we will beat Austria 1-0 and that I will score the winner... that's my dream anyway."

Kipling's poem ends with the line:
"If you can fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"

Pekhart may not be ready to claim the earth just yet, but if the FIFA U-20 World Cup comes into his sights, do not expect this cheerful, smiling 18-year-old to shy away from the challenge.