Ranking the 15 Best Penalty Takers in World Football

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IISeptember 6, 2012

Ranking the 15 Best Penalty Takers in World Football

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    Taking penalties seems so easy on TV.

    It seems so easy, yet, when the moment does actually come, the pressure and expectations of fans and followers around the world can often get to players.

    Their spectacular misses and failures are beamed around the world in an instant, and they have gone from being the potential hero to the biggest zero of them all.

    Note: there is no complete, wonderful website to find all these statistics on, so I've had to use a combination of two website here. Transfermarkt have a good up-to-date listing of all converted penalties, whilst Penalty HQ offer a conversion rate, though they do not include the last 12 months or so of penalties attempted.

    We'll use both of those websites throughout this article.

    Taking a good penalty is truly an underrated commodity, so let's take a look at the top 15 penalty takers in world football—including some former players who excelled from the penalty spot.

15. Gareth Barry

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    Total penalties scored: 17 penalties

    Conversion rate: 93 percent

    Manchester City have an abundance of penalty takers this season in Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and David Silva, but Gareth Barry certainly knows how to find the back of the net from 12 yards out and should be considered more as a penalty-taking option.

14. Mario Balotelli

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    Total penalties scored: 8 penalties 

    Conversion rate: 100 percent

    Mario Balotelli might have his moments on and off the pitch every now and again, but as far as penalties go, he's a definite go-to guy—having never missed in his eight attempts.

    Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart also swears that Balotelli is the toughest guy he's ever faced in a penalty shootout (via Tribal Football)—making him a viable candidate for this list despite the fact he's only taken a handful of penalties.

13. Robin Van Persie

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    Total penalties scored 18 penalties

    Conversion rate: 77 percent

    After watching the Manchester United striker fluff one against Southampton, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Robin van Persie isn't much of a penalty taker.

    However, the Dutch international has a strong penalty—smashing it at either side of the goalkeeper or going for the more gentle and accurate style. Either way, Premier League goalkeepers will struggle against the Van Persie for many seasons to come from 12 yards out.

12. Michael Ballack

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    Total penalties scored: 29 penalties 

    Penalty conversion rate: n/a

    There's a reason why German international teams are so good during penalty shootouts—they've had players like Michael Ballack in their lineup.

    The former Chelsea midfielder had a deadly right foot from the penalty spot—bringing the ruthless German engineering that so often defined their penalty shootouts—and is a deserved entry onto this list.

11. Leighton Baines

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    Total penalties scored: 10 penalties

    Conversion rate: 100 percent

    The England international has a surprisingly incredible penalty record, and one that continues to strengthen over the years.

    Baines loves to give his penalties a little bit of height—making them just that little bit harder—and has had excellent success with that tactic so far in his career.

10. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Total penalties scored: 45 penalties

    Conversion rate: 94 percent

    I know, I know, Ronaldo missed that penalty in the Champions League final that almost cost Manchester United the trophy—as a Red Devils fan, I am all too aware of that miss—but the fact remains that Ronaldo is still one of the best penalty takers in the world.

    Left or right, the Real Madrid forward has such an excellent strike that goalkeepers often don't stand a chance, and the 45 penalties he's already converted in his career are a great testament to that.

9. Eric Cantona

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    Statistics not avaliable.

    Eric Cantona brought with him great flair and skill every time he walked out on to a football pitch, and the same must be said about his penalties.

    There was that one blip where he simply skied it, but other than that, Cantona's right foot could seemingly put the ball wherever he wanted it to go.

8. Zinedine Zidane

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    Statistics not available.

    As far as clutch penalty takers go, Zinedine Zidane is certainly right up there, with the French international netting several big-time goals throughout his career.

    Right foot, in off the crossbar—just the way Zidane worked.

7. Gary McAllister

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    Statistics not available.

    Gary McAllister might have that one horrendous penalty miss for Scotland against England, but the midfielder was simply excellent from all dead-ball situations, including penalties.

    King of the side-foot. McAllister's right foot was always tough to stop from 12 yards out.

6. Steven Gerrard

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    Total penalties scored: 24 penalties

    Conversion rate: 92 percent

    Now we're starting to get into the big guns, and coming in at No. 6 is Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard, whose powerful shot is always tough to stop—even more so from just 12 yards out.

    Gerrard loves to hit the top corner with serious pace behind it—making it practically impossible to stop—though he will throw a lower one into the corner just to keep the goalkeepers guessing.

    One of the best penalty takers in the modern game.

5. Graham Alexander

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    Statistics not available.

    (Rumors that record stands at 72 from 77)

    Inside the top five now and Graham Alexander is a must-include in any discussions about brilliant penalty takers—his record testifies to how good he was from the penalty spot.

    The Scunthorpe United, Luton Town, Preston North End and Burnley defender will go down as one of the best penalty takers in history, with his right foot simply able to hit any part of the net he seemingly desired with ease.

4. Alessandro Del Piero

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    Total penalties scored: 14 penalties

    Conversion rate: 94 percent

    The Italian legend, who recently just completed a move to Sydney FC, is another deserved entry in this list of top penalty takers and is arguably the best penalty taker still running around today.

    He never looks under pressure from the spot—simply gathering himself together and placing the ball in the back of the net. Nothing fancy, nothing powerful, but he manages to get the job done nearly every time.

3. Alan Shearer

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    Statistics not avaliable.

    Coming in at No. 3 is Alan Shearer, who was simply devastating from the penalty spot throughout his career. 

    The Southampton, Blackburn and Newcastle striker loved to thump the ball high into the back of the net and was one of the hardest penalty takers to stop in the Premier League because of it.

2. Frank Lampard

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    Total penalties scored: 52 penalties

    Conversion rate: 93 percent

    Four steps back, hit with the right foot and thump into the back of the net—it's just the way that Frank Lampard works his magic from the penalty spot.

    The Chelsea midfielder is simply dynamic from 12 yards out and is, for me, the most reliable man from the spot in the modern game.

    Watching him nail that penalty against Liverpool in the Champions League semifinal just days after his mother passed away still remains one of the most spine-tingling moments in recent years.

1. Matt Le Tissier

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    Total penalties scored: 48 penalties

    Conversion rate: 98 percent

    There is little doubt as to whom the greatest penalty taker of all time is—Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier, whose phenomenal record remains one of the greatest penalty records in history.

    Speaking via BBC Sport, Le Tissier stated that he never really had a "tactic" for penalties; he simply just loved to smash the ball into the back of the net.

    I believed that when I stepped up to take them, I was going to score. It was an easy chance for a goal. Being a goalscorer and loving hitting the back of the net, I just didn't want to waste that opportunity.

    There's no doubt a few players would do well to heed Le Tissier's words.

     

    Agree? Disagree? Someone too high or too low?

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