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10 Perfect Panenkas from Andrea Pirlo and Beyond

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10 Perfect Panenkas from Andrea Pirlo and Beyond
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In the quarterfinals of the 2012 European Championships, after 120 minutes of scoreless play and Italy down 2-1 entering the third round of penalties, Azzurri legend Andrea Pirlo stepped to the spot and delivered the perfect Panenka—a penalty chipped delicately right into the middle of the net—past England goalkeeper Joe Hart.

As Pirlo approached, Hart dove to his right and was cruelly forced to watch the ball sail slowly into his net while lying helplessly on the ground. The audacity of Pirlo to make such a fearless attempt on such a big stage changed the tone of the shootout, which Italy went on to win 4-2.

But Pirlo was hardly the first player to attempt a Panenka, nor is he the inventor. And while many football fans have heard the term and know what a Panenka is, they have little understanding of where the term comes from. 

The namesake of the Panenka penalty is former Czech footballer Antonin Panenka, who won the 1976 European Championship with such a kick. He had developed the technique years earlier, on the training ground, and used it to lead Czechoslovakia to a 5-3 shootout victory over West Germany in the final.

Since then, the kick has taken on a legendary place in football.

Here are 10 of the best Panenka's ever taken.

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