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The 10 best penalty takers in world football history

The 10 best penalty takers in world football history

You are always happy whenever your team is awarded a penalty. After all, it’s supposed to be an easy goal scoring opportunity. The goalpost is large and the act seems simple. But somehow, it can all go awry. I bet there are a number of times when you’ve been let down by your team’s penalty taker when he fails to convert from the spot.
But if you’ve ever played football before, then you’ll know how difficult it is to score penalties. The walk to take a penalty is very long and lonely. The goalkeeper seems to increase in size and the goalpost appears to be shrinking. And then comes the overwhelming pressure! Indeed, football penalties are not for the weak. I bet you sometimes look away when a player from the team you are supporting is about to take a penalty. The pressure gets to the fans too.

Scoring a penalty is not an easy task. A brilliant player doesn’t necessarily mean a good penalty taker. A player can be lethal on the field, scoring all sorts of goals from play and still unable to score penalties.

This is because football penalties are more about mental strength and the ability to cope with pressure. As a result, we take a look at players that have mastered the difficult art of scoring football penalties. These players have penalties figured out and know exactly how to keep their cool from the penalty spot. They are:

#10. Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard

Date of Birth: 30 May 1980
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Country: England
Playing Position: Midfielder
Retired: 2016

The Liverpool legend is regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time and is highly regarded for his leadership skills. He’s an extremely versatile player usually deployed as a hardworking box-to-box player with great endurance in his prime. He was also usually deployed as a central midfielder but he had also been used as a second striker, a holding midfielder, an attacking midfielder, a right back, and a right winger.

He was renowned for his incredible long pass ability and perfectly timed tackles. He knows how to score from distance and has bailed his team out on a number of occasions by scoring late goals. Gerrard gives the goalkeeper no chance when taking penalties. He takes his penalties with powerful shots, blasting the ball into the net. Goalie can do nada about it. He scored 47 penalties out of the 57 penalties he took for Liverpool.

#9. Francesco Totti

Francesco Totti

Date of Birth: 27 September 1976
Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Country: Italy
Playing Position: Attacking Midfielder/Striker
Retired: 2017

Loyalty is rare in football these days but if football loyalty had a face, it would be Francesco Totti. Totti’s fierce loyalty to AS Roma is an open secret and he refused to move to other clubs despite strong interests from many European heavyweights. He even turned down the opportunity to play for Real Madrid.

He holds a number of impressive records such as being the youngest striker in the history of Serie A and the oldest goalscorer in UEFA Champions League history, aged 38 years and 59 days. Totti is a man of many accomplishments.

Whenever AS Roma wins a penalty, Totti is the man they would turn to. And he always delivers. Consistently. He holds the record for the most number of penalties scored in Serie A with 71 goals. A true legend of the game.

#8. Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard

Date of Birth: 20 June 1978
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.84 m)
Country: England
Playing Position: Midfielder
Retired: 2016

A creative and technically gifted box-to-box midfielder, Frank Lampard was one hell of a player during his playing days. The current Chelsea manager was a monster during his playing days. He is one of the best midfielders to ever play in the premier league. His incredible long shot accuracy ensured he scored a number of ‘golazos’ during his career. Lampard has a keen eye for goal and his ability to make attacking runs into the box coupled with his accurate and powerful shots ensured he was prolific during his career. He’s also a superb free kick and penalty taker. He scored 46 out of the 57 penalties he took for Chelsea. With that record, he’s undoubtedly Chelsea’s best penalty taker of all time.

#7. Rickie Lambert

Rickie Lambert

Date of Birth: 16 February 1982
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Country: England
Playing Position: Striker
Retired: 2017

Former Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert is renowned for his goalscoring exploits which saw him won two league Golden Boots. Lambert has an imposing physique which has drawn comparisons with former Southampton player Matt Le Tissier for his ability in front of goal and penalty record. He’s very good from the penalty spot and he has never missed a penalty. Rickie Lambert took 34 penalties in his career and converted everything. He was known to be a very hardworking striker even if he was not technically exceptional. He did well for himself during his playing days as he won a number of individual awards. He played for both Liverpool and Southampton, and he was the go-to man whenever his team won a penalty.

#6. Zlatan ‘The Lion’ Ibrahimovic

Zlatan 'The Lion' Ibrahimovic

Date of Birth: 3 October 1981
Height: 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)
Country: Sweden
Playing Position: Striker

Yes, Zlatan calls himself a lion. And in so many ways, he is. He’s outspoken and proud. He’s egoistic. Some might even say he’s full of himself. But you cannot hate The Lion. He scores goals of the highest quality, gives perky remarks during press conferences and scores penalties. Journalists love interviewing Ibrahimovic because he’ll always say something that will make a good headline.

Ibrahimovic loves entertaining fans. He’s the king fu master because of his ability to score different types of acrobatic goals. He’s very athletic and rarely gets injured. That is in part responsible for the longevity of his career. He has scored 79 goals in his career, missing only 11. All hail the Lion King.

#5. Antonín Panenka

Antonín Panenka

Date of Birth: 2 December 1948)
Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Country: Czech
Playing Position: Attacking Midfielder
Retired: 1993

There’s no way this list is going to be complete without Panenka, a man who has a penalty technique named after him. Panenka truly relished scoring penalties during his time and he did so with style. His style of taking penalties, dubbed ‘the panenka’, involves checking the ball down the middle. His move requires extreme nerves of steel. A number of players still score penalties using Panenka’s style. Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez and Francesco Totti have all scored penalties using Panenka’s style. Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos seems to have developed a taste for the Panenka as he is using the technique to take his penalties currenty. And who can blame him? The Panenka is really cool!

#4. Alessandro Del Piero

Alessandro Del Piero

Date of Birth: 9 November 1974
Height: 1.74 m (5 ft 8 1⁄2 in)
Country: Italy
Playing Position: Forward
Retired: 2014

Legendary striker Alessandro Del Piero is renowned for his extraordinary skills and goalscoring ability. He has been labelled “Fantasista” by the media and he’s renowned for his trademark goal that involves cutting inside from the left flank and curling the ball into the corner of the post from outside the penalty area. You have to see it to truly appreciate it! A prolific goalscorer, he has scored for club and country on numerous occasions. Primed with belief in his own ability, passion and a knack for corralling and controlling the ball to perfection, Del Piero has no fear from the penalty spot. Nor should he; Del Piero is special.

#3. Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli

Date of Birth: 12 August 1990
Height: 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)
Country: Italy
Playing Position: Forward

Balotelli is a controversial player. He’s well known for his disciplinary issues on and off the pitch. And his disciplinary issue has done a lot of harm to his career. He’s played for a number of top clubs in his career and didn’t really meet expectations at any of them. Disciplinary issue aside, what I love about Balotelli is that he knows how to celebrate a wonderful goal. He’s the kind of guy that would take a selfie after scoring a bicycle kick and post it immediately on his Instagram status.

Despite many of his flaws, super Mario is a titan from the penalty spot. You can also count on him to convert his penalties. He has scored 37 penalties in his career, missing only five. You can only imagine the beast of a player he could have been if he had the same penalty composure in open play.

#2. Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer

Date of Birth: 13 August 1970
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Country: England
Playing Position: Striker
Retired: 2006

Alan Shearer holds the record for the most penalties scored in the premier league. In fact, he is also the premier’s league all-time top scorer. He played  as a striker in the Primier League of for Southampton, Blackburn, Rovers, Newcastle and the England national team.

Shearer was the classic English centre-forward as he relies on his strength, physical stature, heading ability and strong shots. All these attributes enabled him to score diffferent types of goals and he was a prolific goalscorer during his playing days.

The stats don’t lie for Shearer, who has scored more penalties than anyone else in the Premier League. He scored 56 out of 67 penalties during his time at Blackburn, Southampton, and Newcastle, having a 83.6 conversion rate. Juicy!

#1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

Date of Birth: 5 February 1985
Height: 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)
Country: Portugal
Playing Position: Forward

Who else? Juventus starman Cristiano Ronaldo is at the top of this list and rightly so. He has scored a lot of crucial penalties in his career. He doesn’t crack under pressure, he thrives in it. His penalty goalscoring ability has made some fans label him ‘Penaldo’ even though it’s more about criticizing him than praising him. Ronaldo tops this list because he has scored over 100 penalties in his career, 112 to be exact. He has missed 22, which brings his conversion rate to a staggering 84%! Also, I could go on blabbering on a number of crucial penalties that he has effortlessly scored in his career. Long live the penalty king!

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