Top 10 penalty takers of all time
The tensest moment in football is easily the penalty shootout. It looks like a cakewalk but the pressure and expectations can really get to the penalty taker. Some players are remembered for their misses but a few players actually specialize in taking spot kicks. Having said that let me introduce you to the top 10 penalty takers of all time.
#10 Andrea Pirlo
The Italian visionary is one of the best penalty specialists in world football today. Pirlo, who excels at set pieces, has been praised for his confidence and calmness from the spot which has helped him score past the best goalkeepers in the world. Pirlo was the one who scored Italys first penalty in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final against France helping his country win the tournament.
The 34-year-old relies on technique rather than speed when he takes his penalties. The midfielders spot kick against England during the Euro 2012 will never be forgotten by the fans anytime soon. Pirlo scored another decisive penalty in the 2013 Confederations Cup against Spain but could not prevent the Azzurris defeat in the shootout. Few players will be able to match Pirlos grace from the spot.
Footballs greatest showman was a great penalty taker when he was at his peak. Ronaldinho, who entertained everyone on the pitch during his time at La Liga club Barcelona first came to the attention of the world during the Under-17 World Cup against in a match against Austria where he managed to score two penalties.
The 34-year old was a dead ball expert and was extremely good with penalties, free kicks and corners. Ronaldinho used his incredible trickery to send opposing goalkeepers the wrong way when he took his spot kicks.
#8 Michael Ballack
Besides being one of the most influential midfielders Germany has ever seen Ballack was also extremely prolific from 12 yards out. The former Chelsea man had brilliant technique and never looked under pressure which helped him put away a total of 29 penalties during his entire career.
Ballacks deadly right-footed shots baffled some of the worlds best goalkeepers who could only look in amazement when the Germans shot hit the back of the net. The former Germany international, who scored 42 goals in 98 appearances for his country, managed to convert his penalty for Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final against Manchester United but his team still lost due to John Terrys slip up.
#7 Alessandro Del Piero
The Italian World Cup winner is not only known for his grace on the ball but also for his lethal penalty taking abilities. The former Juventus striker, who is famous for being a perfectionist, has always taken his spot kicks calmly and even scored for his country in the 2006 World Cup final shootout against France which helped the Azzurri lift the trophy.
Del Piero has scored 14 penalties in his entire career and has an incredible conversion rate of 94% and even managed to score his 250th goal with a penalty. The 39-year-old still has a chance to add to his penalty tally as he is currently in top form for A-League side Sydney FC.
#6 Steven Gerrard
The Liverpool midfielder is another Englishman who has excelled at taking spot kicks. Gerrard has an amazing penalty conversion rate of 92% and is the fourth highest penalty taker in the Premier League with 25 goals, including 2 against Manchester United in a recent game, from the spot just one short of Le Tissiers 26.
The midfielders lethal right foot has helped him tuck away his penalties over the years and his skills will surely help England in the World Cup this year if theyre involved in a shootout.
#5 Cristiano Ronaldo
The Portuguese forward may have had his penalty saved in the Champions League final against Chelsea in 2008 during his time at Manchester United but he didnt let that error stop him from becoming one of the most deadly penalty takers.
Ronaldo, who scored his first World Cup goal from a spot-kick against Iran, has gone on to net 45 penalties with a conversion rate of 94% and is sure to go down as one of the best spot kick takers the game has ever seen.
#4 Zinedine Zidane
The legendary Frenchman was one of the most fearless penalty takers in football history. Zidane will always be remembered for his unique penalties which were mostly aimed just below the crossbar.
The midfielders penalty taking skills were on full display in the 2006 World Cup when he scored from the spot in the semi-finals against Portugal and the finals against Italy, making him only the fourth player to score in two different finals. Zidane would have most likely converted his penalty in the shootout against Italy in the finals had he not been sent off in the 110th minute for headbutting Materazzi.
#3 Frank Lampard
The midfield magician is one of the most feared penalty takers in the world and his kicks have got his club and country out of numerous sticky situations over the years. Lampard has a penalty conversion rate of 93% and has scored 53 goals from the spot in his entire career including 43 in the Premier League making him the second most prolific penalty taker in England after Alan Shearer.
The midfielder always seemed to prefer hard left sided penalties which were next to impossible to keep out. Lampards former England team-mate Jamie Carragher stated that the midfielder used to practice 5 to 10 penalties a day after practice which is why he is so good from 12 yards. If only Lampards Englands team-mates learned from him.
#2 Matt Le Tissier
The Englishman was simply lethal from 12 yards and will go down in history as the best penalty taker of all time. Le Tissier, who spent the majority of his career with Southampton, had a breathtaking penalty conversion rate of 98% and managed to score 48 goals from the spot in his 18 year career.
In spite of his brilliance he was never included in Englands World Cup squad or got a chance to play for one of the big clubs despite being a prolific goalscorer. The 45-year-old never won a single piece of silverware with the Saints but his skills from the spot will be immortalized forever.
#1 Alan Shearer
It is safe to say that the Newcastle legend was unstoppable from the penalty spot, scoring 56 penalties in his Premier League career making him the top scorer in that area. Shearer was famous for his powerful shots and almost always sent his penalties into the high corners of the goal making them impossible to stop.
In fact his ridiculous penalty scoring record helped him become the Premier Leagues top scorer with 260 goals. Shearer even came off the bench to score a trademark penalty during his final match cum testimonial against Celtic on 11th May 2006. England have looked extremely vulnerable during penalty shootouts in recent times and must be wishing they still had Shearer in the squad.