A Brief History of the Panenka: Best and Worst Cheeky Penalties

Joe Gallagher@joesgallagherFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2015

A Brief History of the Panenka: Best and Worst Cheeky Penalties

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    VALERY HACHE/Getty Images

    Every now and again, a player or team will try something so revolutionary that their name becomes synonymous with the act.

    Athletics has its Fosbury Flop, rugby union the Garryowen. Football has the Panenka.

    The cheeky, dinked penalty technique has been tried all over the world since its inception, with varying degrees of success. It requires careful execution, perfect technique, nerves of steel and bucketloads of self-belief.

    In celebration of its founder, Czechoslovakian legend Antonin Panenka, who turns 67 on December 2, we've taken a look at some of the more memorable executions of the tactic since its introduction to the world in Belgrade 29 years ago.

    Here are our best and worst panenka penalties in history.

Best: Antonin Panenka (1976)

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    Where else to start than the very beginning...

    Czechoslovakia had pushed West Germany to penalties after a 2-2 draw in the 1976 European Championships final in Yugoslavia.

    With the shootout hanging in the balance, Uli Hoeness was first to blink, giving Antonin Panenka the chance to win the trophy for his country.

    Power? Placement? Or something completely different?

Worst: Arturo Gonzalez (2015)

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    You're deep into stoppage time with the scores level in a local derby. You win a penalty. What do you do?

    When Mexican side Club Atlas were awarded a 95th-minute spot-kick against Guadalajara earlier this year, 20-year-old midfielder Arturo Gonzalez showed his bravery by not only stepping up for the would-be match-winning penalty but also opting for a panenka.

    Sure, it would have been amazing if it had come off, but unfortunately for the Mexican, his confidence was misplaced...

Best: Zinedine Zidane (2006)

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    There is no greater pressured scenario than a World Cup showpiece.

    Because of something else he did in the 2006 final against Italy, Zinedine Zidane's outrageous choice of penalty technique is somewhat forgotten.

    Awarded a spot-kick in the seventh minute, Zidane squeaked his panenka in off the crossbar to put France in front in Berlin.

    Marco Materazzi would later equalise and a Zidane-less France would lose in—you guessed it—a penalty shootout.

Worst: Alexandre Pato (2013)

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    The talented youngster who broke on to the scene with AC Milan, Alexandre Pato might want to forget this miss in a cup competition in Brazil two years ago.

    After 180 goalless minutes across two legs in the 2013 Copa do Brasil quarter final, his Corinthians faced a penalty shootout against Gremio in Porto Alegre.

    Pato's botched do-or-die panenka attempt proved decisive, as his team went down 3-2 in the shootout.

Best: Andrea Pirlo (2012)

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    Just as no list of penalties would be complete without some English heartbreak, no compilation of audacity would be finished without the inclusion of Andrea Pirlo.

    As England crashed out of the Euro 2012 quarter-finals 4-2 on penalties, the midfielder had the cheek to rub it in their face by dinking the ball over Joe Hart.

    We'll let Pirlo, whose midfield masterclass was the highlight of a 0-0 draw, tell the story of Kiev himself in the video above...

    Italy would go on to lose the final to Spain.

Worst: Neymar (2010)

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    Before he was terrorising defences in La Liga, Neymar was terrorising defences in Brazil with Santos.

    The Ballon d'Or nominee's 11 goals led Santos to their first Copa do Brasil final title in 2010, but it could have been an even dozen if the then-18-year-old Brazilian wasn't thwarted in this spot-kick attempt in the first leg.

    Perhaps he showed his hand too early—successfully attempting the panenka in a friendly earlier that year.

    Thankfully for Neymar, his miss wasn't costly as Santos went on to win 3-2 across two legs, but his confidence clearly caught the eye of Barcelona as he joined the Catalan giants in 2013.

Best: Francesco Totti (2000)

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    The Italians would suffer heartbreak of their own in the Euro 2000 final, but in order to get there, they had to defeat the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

    Once more following a 0-0 draw, Francesco Totti's cheeky dink over Edwin van der Sar all but secured progression from the semi-final.

    Slyvain Wiltord's stoppage-time equaliser, teamed with David Trezeguet's extra-time winner in the Rotterdam showpiece, would ensure Italy did no better than second.

Worst: Maicosuel (2012)

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    One of the costlier panenka misses of all time, Brazilian Maicosuel missed this effort in qualifying for the 2012-13 Champions League.

    A winner-takes-all shootout came about after a 1-1 draw with Braga, and the Udinese midfielder was made to pay for his overconfidence as the Italian side missed out on the continental showpiece.

Best: Omar Abdulrahman (2015)

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    Antonin Panenka himself would be proud of this one.

    The United Arab Emirates' Omar Abdulrahman produced perhaps the finest execution of the chipped penalty during his side's win over Japan in the 2015 Asian Cup in Sydney.

    Locked at 1-1 after extra time, Shinji Kagawa's miss proved decisive as the UAE claimed a 5-4 shootout victory in the quarter-final.

    They would go on to lose to eventual champions Australia in the semi-final.

Worst: Matt Besler (2015)

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    An epic 22-kick shootout in the MLS Cup playoffs in October might not have been such a marathon were it not for Matt Besler's miss.

    With the scores tied at 2-2 after three penalties each, Sporting Kansas City's 28-year-old defender Besler could have given his side a crucial advantage over the Portland Timbers but skied his panenka.

    The shootout was eventually decided by the two sides' goalkeepers, some 14 kicks later, with Portland prevailing 7-6 in an epic shootout.

    They face Colombus Crew in this weekend's MLS Cup final, while Besler is back in training practising his deft kicks from 12 yards.