TOP 5 – Penalty misses


Written by Elliott Sheaf. Originally published in Issue 02.

The old fashioned spot kick is a curious
sub-genre of football. It takes out all effects of fitness and reduces any player to the same level as an armchair fan. Countless England managers will tell us they’re impossible to practice, but the following may wish they did

John Terry
Chelsea vs Manchester United
2008 Champions League Final

The 2008 Champions League Final was an all English affair for the first time in competition history and emotion was running high in the 1-1 draw, with Didier Drogba being sent off towards the end of extra time. The game would be decided on penalties, with Chelsea captain and icon John Terry stepping up to the spot with a chance to win the game, the stage was set for a fairy tale victory for the Chelsea faithful. However Terry slipped at the last minute and sliced his kick off the outside of the post, instantly bursting into tears and continuing to be inconsolable as Manchester United went on and won the competition. This wasn’t the deciding penalty and I’m not even going to research who missed the vital one, who cares, all that Wayne Bridge and me care to remember is the anguish on Terry’s face.

Anthony Knockhaert
Watford vs Leicester City
2013 Championship semi-final

In the 96th minute of the 2013 Championship playoff semi-final, a dubious penalty and chance to win the game is awarded to Leicester City. Anthony Knockhaert steps up with the chance to win the game and send Leicester in to the final and a chance at promotion to the Premier League. The poor excuse for a penalty is saved and a counter attack is sprung by Watford, they’re down the field in a matter of seconds and Troy Deeney smashes home the winner to send them in to the playoff final. It encapsulates what this issue of Top Corner is all about, the heartbreak and the joy, all within a blink of an eye. Leicester never recovered and disappeared in to obscurity....wait, my notes say they won the Premier League a few years later? That doesn’t sound right. I’m pretty sure they’re in League One somewhere.

Simone Zaza
Italy vs Germany
Euro 2016 quarter-final

We had already reached extra time, and with a penalty shootout looming in the Euro 2016 quarter-final match between Italy and Germany, the Italians turned to bringing on a spot kick specialist in preparation; enter Simone Zaza. Zaza’s subsequent howler answered the age old penalty question, ‘Why take four steps, when nineteen will do?”. His twinkle toed attempt would have had Stuart Pearce spinning in his grave if he was dead and led to Italy crashing out of the tournament. West Ham had seen enough, and signed him shortly after, arriving as the ‘that guy who missed the pen.’ A few months later he was out the door, leaving with this reputation untarnished... 

Roberto Baggio
Italy vs Brazil
1994 World Cup Final 

The archetypal penalty miss and one of the most heartbreaking football moments of all time. Baggio had an incredible tournament, scoring 5 and being the focal point of his Italian side’s run to the 1994 World Cup final, only to balloon the deciding penalty over the bar and allow Brazil to win yet another World Cup. The American commentator’s scream of “Baggio NOOOOOO” as the ball flew over the bar not only accurately channelled the Italian’s despair, but also provided a helpful reminder to a football illiterate American audience that what just happened wasn’t ideal. Baggio was understandably devastated, but on reflection he later said, “If I drown, better do it in the sea than in a puddle.” I think I understand, but personally I’d rather score a penalty than drown. At least it was only the second worst penalty miss of that World Cup, which brings me to...  

Diana Ross
Diana Ross vs Me
1994 World Cup opening ceremony

If you haven’t seen Diana’s feeble attempt at a penalty kick, to summarise, during the 1994 World Cup opening ceremony she was no doubt contractually obliged to slot home a pen whilst performing her hit single, “I’m Coming Out.” Unfortunately, she shanked the effort well wide of the goal, in what looked more like a mad punt at a bag of chips on a Brighton hen night than a World Cup opening performance, but this is what passed for entertainment in 1994. Couldn’t they have hired a coach to give her a few tips beforehand, what was Harry Redknapp up to then? He’d do anything for a couple of quid. Now, you might think I’m being a little harsh on Diana, after all she isn’t a professional footballer as far as we know, however given the choice I’d much rather have Romario and Bebeto bumbling their way through a performance of “I’ve Got You Babe”, as long as they put away their pens.  

Top Corner