When we think of Czechoslovakia what immediately springs to mind?
The emaciated features of a 1980’s Ivan Lendl? Stag do’s to Prague? Petr Cech’s headgear?
Personally, I always think about one man and that man is Antonin Panenka; the guy who in 1976 took the piss in the European Championship Final against West Germany in the penalty shoot-out, by chipping the ball straight down the middle as the goalie dived to his side, thus inadvertently inventing the “Panenka” penalty.
Ahead of the Czech Republic’s visit to Wembley on Friday night to face England in their Euro 2020 qualifying opener and as a tribute to the great man, we’ve come up with five of the most famous (good and bad) Panenka ever taken.
Francesco Totti: Italy v Holland 2000
The Euro 2000 semi-final between hosts Holland and Italy was pretty much one-way traffic after Azzurri full-back Gianluca Zambrotta was sent-off after just 34 minutes. It’s a match that will always be remembered for Italy goalkeeper Francesco Toldo’s heroics between the posts and the fact that Holland missed two spot-kicks in regulation time.
Italy, playing in what, in my opinion, is the greatest football shirt ever made, shut up shop and held on to take the game to penalty kicks. As the Dutch faltered once again, up stepped the King of Rome Francesco Totti, to leave Dutch keeper Edwin van der Saar flat out as he caressed the ball into the back of the net. For the record, the Italians lost to a David Trezeguet golden goal for France in the final.
Zinedine Zidane: France v Italy 2006
World Cup Finals are one hell of a place to start thinking about a Panenka, but that’s just what France legend Zinedine Zidane decided to do early on in 2006 against Italy. The great man was playing in his last ever international game and he almost made a complete howler of the spot-kick, but the ball hit the crossbar and slithered over the line.
Eventually, it was his head that Zidane lost when he was sent off for head-butting Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the ribs after the Italian had said some less than complimentary things about Zizou’s family; as he trudged disconsolately down the tunnel football lovers around the world wept for what was a sad end to a glittering career. For the record, Italy went on to win the game on penalties.
Jermaine Jenas: Newcastle United v Chelsea 2003
It was only a glorified friendly, but Newcastle United boss Bobby Robson was left furious when PFA Young Player of the Year Jermaine Jenas’s attempt at a Panenka went horribly wrong against Chelsea in an Asia Cup game in 2003. Sunderland fans all around the world pissed themselves as the cocky JJ put so much height on the ball, it ended up flying over the crossbar.
Sir Bobby was seething in the post-match interview when he declared that; “All players have the right to take penalties the way they think, I will not criticise if they miss them. I have lost a World Cup semi-final in similar circumstances. I will never complain about players missing penalties and have the utmost sympathy for them. But in JJ`s case I think it was outrageous. It is obscene what he`s done and you can`t do that.” For the record, JJ is now working on TV and radio as a pundit.
Andrea Pirlo – Italy v England 2012
Of course, England (nearly) always lose on penalties in major tournament’s and in 2012, it was more heartbreak for the Three Lions as those pesky Italians eliminated them at the quarter-final stage of the European Championships. The fact that it was the coolest man ever to wear a football shirt, Andrea Pirlo, who left Joe Hart on his arse to convert his Panenka, failed to soften the blow as another potential shot at glory dissipated in the heat of Kiev.
Two years previous, Pirlo had embarrassed himself in a friendly between Milan and Barcelona at the Camp Nou, but the then newly installed Rossoneri boss Massimo Allegri, took a different view to that of Sir Bobby with Jenas and was seen pissing his pants in the technical area. For the record, Italy went on to lose the 2012 final to Spain.
Watch his outstanding effort for yourself here.
Gary Lineker: England v Brazil 1992
Whisper it quietly, or he’ll be in a right two & eight on Twitter, but Gary Lineker probably holds the unwanted title of “worst ever Panenka attempt ever” after a pathetic effort to psyche out the Brazilians at Wembley in warm-up game for Euro 92 in Sweden. To set the scene, Saint Gary needed just one goal to equal Bobby Charlton’s then goalscoring record for England and what better way to do it than in a game against the mighty Brazil.
Having bailed his country out on more than one occasion at the World Cup in Italy two years previous, Lineker decided to get a bit cocky this time in what turned out to be his final appearance at the home of football, but his “Panenka” style penalty barely had the stamina to reach the goal let alone go over the line and was easily kept out by goalkeeper Carlos Gallo. Lineker knew the writing was on the wall when Three Lions boss Graham Taylor declared after the 1-1 draw that; “You could argue that we played Brazil with 10 men.”
Just a month later in what turned out to be a forgettable Euro’s for England; Lineker’s international career came to an end when he was substituted in a 2-1 loss to the hosts in Solna. For the record, St Gary now has over seven million followers on Twitter.