When you see a penalty taker scoring a goal with a softly chipped ball up the middle as the goalie dives away, you appreciate the skill and mastery of the kick. But you don't give a thought about where that trick came from.
The illustrious players may have overshadowed the original skill but it's still famous for the name it derived from. A midfielder known for free kicks and passes, who had invented and perfected it with great aplomb - Antonin Panenka.
The enigmatic style known as the Panenka penalty first came into prominence in the final of the 1976 European Championship between Czechoslovakia and West Germany. The match went to wire, tied at 2-2 and spot kicks ensued.
When the first seven penalties were converted, West Germany's Uli Hoeness missed his spot kick, leaving the score at an intriguing 4-3. Panenka stepped forward with his nerves of steel and coolly scored with a style of penalty taking that no-one had ever seen.
The commentators couldn't believed he had so much guts to do that in such an important game, because he would have looked silly if the goalkeeper had judged the time and didn't dive at all. But Panenka maintained his composure and converted it with great poise. And what a moment it was for all Czechoslovakian fans.
After the match Panenka told UEFA.com: "I chose the penalty because I saw and realised it was the easiest and simplest recipe for scoring a goal. It is a simple recipe."
He came up with the idea himself while he was with his Bohemian Prague club while practicing penalties with the club's goalkeeper Zdenek Hruska.
As we know that in the time of penalty, the goalkeeper always waits until the last moment to try and anticipate where the ball is going and dive just before it's kicked so that he can reach the shot in time to save.
Panenka's basic idea was to deceive the goalie by feinting to shoot and just gently tapping the ball into the middle of the goal as the goalkeeper dived. It may sound easy but the same trick may look frivolous from your side if the goalkeeper stands still to catch the ball, hence Panenka always executed the trick with caution and efficiency.
Now many illustrious players like Zinedine Zidane, Andrea Pirlo, Sergio Ramos and more have successfully executed this enigmatic skill, but the invention will always immortalise Antonin Panenka.
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