Top 10 Best Penalty Takers Ever


The art from 12 yards

I think it's fair to say it's not as easy as it looks. Perfecting a simple kick from just 12 yards out, whilst a monstrous keeper stands in your way, isn't as simple as just putting your laces through it.

Some of the most memorable names down the years have failed time after time from the spot, whilst left-backs, centre-midfielders and even goalkeepers have had to take on responsibility, as the attackers falter under the pressure.

Some players, however, have perfected the art of bamboozling the keeper and effortlessly slotting the ball home without breaking a sweat.

Smashing the side netting, rather than just half placing the ball a metre to the right is an unteachable skill, and it takes many out of hours work on the training ground to perfect.

From the legendary former professionals such as Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier, to the modern greats in Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo - there are many names to choose from. At the same time, it's easy to overlook the exceptional current efforts from James Milner and the forgotten men down the years like Rickie Lambert.

Let's take a look at the best ever from 12 yards.

10. Lionel Messi

In terms of the amount scored on this list, the great Lionel Messi is towards the top end. However, with regards to taking penalties over the space of a career and individual conversion rates, it's tough put the six-time Ballon d'Or winner within the top 10.

In many eyes, Messi is the greatest there is and after bagging an unrivalled 627 goals for Barcelona, only 89 have come from the spot. On the other hand, the Argentine has missed 26, most notably in the World Cup against Iceland and Chelsea in a decisive moment in the Champions League semi final of 2012.

Perhaps he is the GOAT. But there are many other reliable men on this list.

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9. Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli perfects the art of penalty taking from the aspect of mind games. The Italian doesn't lash home his efforts, or place them as exquisitely as many others may do. Instead, he would wait for the keeper to make the first move and proceed to slot the ball to the other side in an effortlessly cool fashion.

Balotelli has bagged 37 penalties, missing just five on them throughout 2008 to the present day. The Brescia Calcio man famously took the spot kicks for Manchester City during his glamourous days at the Etihad, scoring eight out of eight.

8. Alessandro Del Piero

Alessandro Del Piero is Juventus' all-time leading goalscorer and is one of the best Italian strikers ever, registering 260 goals for the Old Lady. Del Piero was also a prolific penalty taker, slotting home 77 throughout his career and missing just 15.

13 of these misses came for Juventus, whilst eight successful penalties were with Sydney FC in the A league. This means the Italian legend took 69 spot kicks for the Serie A giants and missed only 13 - not bad at all.

7. Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard was Liverpool's talisman for over a decade. Scoring goals from midfield and commanding his Anfield army were just two spectacular traits in his almighty arsenal.

Another skill that some of us may forget, however, is his penalty taking. Towards the final few years of his Liverpool career, Gerrard was the main penalty taker, but occasionally the likes of Luis Suarez of Dirk Kuyt would intervene.

The Englishman did famously miss in the 2006 World Cup against Portugal, in what was a squad full of talent from 12 yards. In total, however, Gerrard boasts a magnificent record of 46 club penalties scored, whilst missing just eight.

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6. Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard is one of England's best from 12 yards. A penalty taker for both club and country for over a decade, Lampard was around at the time of fellow elite English penalty takers, such as Wayne Rooney, Gerrard and David Beckham, beating each one to the throne as England's best.

After scoring nine for the Three Lions and missing just two, he has scored the joint-most for his country alongside Harry Kane, with a conversion rate of 81.8%.

Lampard's style from 12 yards was no-nonsense; simply pick a side and smash the ball home as hard as possible. Throughout his time at West Ham United, Chelsea and New York City, the Blues boss netted 60 and missed just 10.

5. Graham Alexander

Graham Alexander is one man on this list many are perhaps not aware of, with his standout trait being that in art of penalty taking. Alexander was a right-back for Burnley and Preston North End, scoring 67 goals over 480 games, eventually retiring in 2012.

The Scot was one of those players that went very much under the radar with his incredibly unique skill. Whilst he wasn't the most famous right-back and played for Scotland 40 times, Alexander was as reliable as they come from the penalty spot.

The former Burnley man would make the long walk from right-back to the spot whenever he was on the pitch, and do so 60 times. Alexander would go onto bag an incredible 56 penalties and miss only four, making his record on this list one of the very best and giving him an almighty goalscoring CV for a man in his position.

Perhaps if he had more of stature and played more often, the right-back would have bagged even more. A true penalty-taking legend and one of the best to ever do it.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo

Not many men on earth have had more of chance from the spot than Cristiano Ronaldo, taking just short of 150 penalties throughout his career. His efforts from 12 yards are one of the reasons why his mentality is vastly superior to most, and why his goalscoring records are only touched by his nemesis, Messi.

In total, the Juventus superstar has bagged an incredible 121 penalties, which is by far the most of this list. At the same time, he has missed just 22 throughout his career with Real Madrid, Portugal, Juventus and Manchester United.

Whilst there is certainly an argument to put Ronaldo further up this list considering he has bagged so many, the ex-Madrid man has also missed a chunk in massive games. Ronaldo failed in the Champions League final penalty shootout for United in the 2008 and in the semi final against Barcelona weeks prior. He also failed to beat Manuel Neuer against Bayern Munich in 2012, which means his record in the biggest games is slightly hit and miss.

The 35-year-old did slot home in the 2014 Champions League final, although, the game was all but dead and buried by this point. Two years on, Ronaldo would bag the decisive penalty in the shootout against Atletico Madrid in the 2016 Champions League final, whilst he also slotted home the game-winning penalty against England at the 2006 World Cup. So, as mentioned, a hit and miss record.

At the same time, Ronaldo has bagged only 11 for Portgual and missed four, which doesn't make for spectacular reading, either.

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3. Rickie Lambert

If you remember correctly, you'd have expected Rickie Lambert on this list. Although, perhaps not many would have put it him this high up, due to his low profile. So, let's break it down.

From bouncing around the divisions with Southampton, Lambert took 50 penalties in his career and missed only three of them. Yes, just three penalties from 53 efforts. So whilst he spent much of his career outside of the Premier League, don't forget how good this man was from 12 yards.

Lambert would reach a career high when he moved to Liverpool in 2014 and becoming an England player at the same time, famously scoring with his first-ever touch in a Three Lions shirt at Wembley. The striker's time at Liverpool was more or less him fulfilling a boyhood dream, rather than reaching the next level and he will forever be remembered for his efforts from the spot and his legendary status at Southampton.

But, one thing is for certain: Lambert is one of the best penalty takers to ever do it.

2. Alan Shearer

The Premier League's all-time top scorer and the Premier League's all-time leading scorer from the penalty spot. Wherever it is on the pitch, no matter the manner, Alan Shearer is just pure goals.

The Newcastle legend is old school when it comes to slotting home from 12 yards. Shearer would smash them in from the spot and do so better than almost anyone else, combined with his exceptional confidence.

When he stepped up, he knew he'd score. So much so, that the Englishman would simply put his laces through it and give the keepers no chance. In total, Shearer would net an incredible 57 penalties and miss only 10.

Not just was he one of the best goalscorers England has ever seen, he's also one of the best to do it from the spot.

1. Matt Le Tissier

Matt Le Tisser, the penalty king.

The man who only tasted the feeling of missing from 12 yards just once from 48 efforts.

It's simple, the Southampton legend is as good as they have come in football with regards to penalties, meaning it's all but impossible to not pick him as the greatest ever.

47 out of 48 of his penalties went in and he was that good from this spot that his only ever miss against Nottingham Forest in 1993 was described by the keeper that day, Mark Crossley, as his greatest ever save.

Tissier's record is better than anyone else's and, therefore, is easily pick for the best every penalty taker.

Honourable mentions

  • Mark Noble
  • James Milner
  • Michael Ballack
  • Eric Cantona
  • Wayne Rooney
  • Harry Kane
  • Gary McAllister
  • Gerd Muller
  • Ronaldinho
  • Luka Milivojevic
  • Antonín Panenka
  • Rogero Ceni

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