40 years ago: Antonin Panenka wins Euro 1976 with famous penalty kick
When it goes right, it looks incredible, bold and brave. When it goes wrong, as Venezuela's Luis Seijas found out Saturday night, it's one of the most embarrassing moments in sports.
And 40 years ago today, it was invented.
Antonin Panenka's chip down the center lifted Czechoslovakia to the 1976 European Championship over West Germany, with his audacious chip down the center clinching the penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw. The move reinvented the way penalty takers approach the spot kick, which can be one of the most tense moments in a match, especially on the tournament stage, when converting could mean the difference between moving on or going home. So how did Panenka arrive at his approach?
"I lay awake at night and thought about this. I knew that goalkeepers usually choose one side, but if you kick the ball too hard, he can save it with his leg. However, if the contact with the ball is lighter, he can’t dive back to the center if he has already picked one side,” Panenka told the Green Soccer Journal last year.
The move has since become synonymous with Panenka, and it's been making kickers and goalkeepers either look foolish or brilliant for four decades.
In honor of the anniversary, here are some of the best Panenkas:
And the worst:
Here's to 40 more years of brazen penalty kick decisions.