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Penalties: The two edged sword of joy and pain! 



Penalties are considered by some soccer fans as necessary evil. Necessary as it becomes a decider at the expiration of regulation time plus extra time.

It is graciously assumed that a clash between two competing teams must throw up a winner within 120 minutes before almighty penalty take the centre stage.

Another decider could be the sudden death which is equally heart aching and which explains why some people have been told specifically by their doctors not to watch penalties and sudden deaths in football as the case may be.

saka miss

But come to think of it some are seen a penalty specialists but mind you anyone can miss penalty and the list boasts of and includes the bests in the game. It could be your turn today and another’s tomorrow, it is part of the game!

Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford shouldn’t feel disheartened after missing penalties in the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

The brave trio join a list of star names who also failed from 12-yards in major tournaments.

Here are a few that readily come to mind and you can’t rule out that there will be other misses in future.


We only recently saw how cruel penalty shootouts can be in this Euros – with France star Mbappe being the fall guy against Switzerland.

With the score standing at 5-4, the PSG star stepped up in their last-16 clash to keep his country in the competition. He missed. Yann Sommer was the hero and France were out.


vanbastin miss

Four years prior Dutch striker Van Basten was the hero of Netherlands’ Euro ’88 campaign.

But he would have forgotten his stunning volley in the final against the USSR after missing a spot-kick against Denmark in the ’92 semi-final against Denmark.

Peter Schmeichel guessed the right way and the-then World Footballer of the Year was left heartbroken.


The setting was Portugal in 2004, and we were playing the hosts.

After a fascinating contest that ended 2-2 after extra time, it was a dreaded penalty shootout that would divide the teams.

First up was England captain Beckham, who previously missed his last two penalties.

And it wasn’t first time lucky, with Golden Balls slipping just as he was striking the ball and missing the target by some way


The 2006 World Cup final wasn’t short of incident – it was infamously the game where Zinedine Zidane lost his marbles and head-butted Marco Materazzi.

Forward Trezeguet, a hero six years prior with a golden goal against the Italians in the Euro 2000 final, stepped up to the mark with the score at 2-2.

However, perhaps feeling the heat he rattled an effort agains the bar. His was the only miss, as Italy were victorious 5-4.


Gyan miss

Ghana were within crossbar inches of reaching the semi-final of the 2010 World Cup, in what has to be one of the greatest injustices in recent times,

The African nation were awarded a penalty in the last moments of extra time when Luis Suarez deliberately handled the ball on the line and was sent off.

Gyan had the chance to be a hero, but he thundered an effort against the crossbar.

Uruguay would then go on to win the penalty shootout 4-2 after Ghana’s spirit was shattered.


The commentator of the day described it as the “worst missed chance of this World Cup or any other for that matter”.

It was June 22, 2010, a day Nigerians won’t forget in a hurry. It was a day Yakubu Aiyegbeni missed a simple tap-in during a game between Nigeria and South Korea.

Aiyegbeni miss

The miss came when his side was trailing the Koreans 2-1 in their final Group A match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, South Africa.

The ‘Yak’ would later score from the penalty spot but Super Eagles fans were, at the time, unable to move past the unbelievable miss.

It was painful, hard to fathom and difficult to describe. If he had converted Nigeria would have defeated South Korea to qualify for round of 16.


The Divine Ponytail was Italy’s saviour more than once during the 1994 World Cup.

Baggio, the best player in the world, carried his country to the final where they would play a drab 0-0 draw with Brazil.

With five goals already to his name in the competition, a penalty in the shootout wouldn’t be too hard for Baggio to muster?

But it was. With tired legs, he fired his over the bar. Brazil were winners. Baggio was devastated.


It’s ironic that the 1994 World Cup began with a missed penalty and was ended by it.

Singer Diana Ross performed at a very OTT opening ceremony in Chicago, and she had one job.

During the elaborate set-up she had to take a penalty, get in target (we presume goalie would move out the way) and the goal would explode in dramatic fashion.

The goal and the goalie did their part, but Ross screwed her shot wide.

However, that didn’t deter the seasoned performer from continuing to belt out hit ‘I’m Coming Out’ as she rushed to a stage behind the now parted goal.




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