Who is the greatest penalty-taker seen in football? Here we give you our Top 10 candidates in the history of the beautiful game.
Scoring from the spot isn’t for the faint of heart. After all, penalty-kicks grant teams a golden opportunity to take a shot at an almost unguarded goal. The only thing standing in their way is the opposition keeper between the posts. Sound simple enough, right?
But even those who play football for a hobby know it’s anything but a walk in the park. Standing 12 yards away from the net with all eyes on you is one of the lengthiest and loneliest feelings in football. It’s a 50-50 situation in which you can either score or miss an open opportunity.
So here we give you the Top 10 greatest penalty-takers throughout football history.
10. David Villa
This probably wouldn’t the first name on many people’s list given that Lionel Messi always took the penalty-kicks during his three-year stay at Barcelona. However, we feel Villa deserves a mention.
The Spanish striker was always a reliable option from the spot, having missed only three of his 34 penalties in La Liga. He was especially prolific for Valencia during his club career. While his prowess in the penalty area helped him surpass Raul Gonzalez as Spain’s record goalscorer.
9. Alessandro Del Piero
The Juventus legend was another ace in penalties during his glorious career, which spanned over two decades. He was often the first choice for both club and country given his strike rate.
The ice-cool Del Piero was always an accurate and reliable option, which made him a must-have in any penalty shoot-out. Even during the twilight phase of his career, he kept on scoring from the spot until the very end.
8. Frank Lampard
The former Chelsea boss was a beast inside the box despite being a central midfielder during his playing career. He scored many long-range crackers, which made him a hero for the Blues faithful.
Perhaps Lampard’s prowess from the spot was also as great as from outside of it as well. He always struck his penalties with such power and precision that goalkeepers were often left helpless.
Frank will probably go down as one of the greatest scoring midfielders in history, with his club-record 211 goals helping Chelsea win 13 titles.
7. Francesco Totti
Totti always delivered for his beloved AS Roma, even during the twilight phase of his glittering career. He was loyal to his hometown club right until the very end and scored 307 goals in total.
A lot of these goals came from the 12-yard spot, where Totti excelled in. The Italian never lost his composure, with the best example being his decisive stoppage-time penalty in Italy’s 1-0 victory over Australia in the last-16 of the 2006 World Cup.
The Azzurri later won the tournament itself in Germany.
6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic’s countless talents also expand to the spot, with the big Swede slamming home 84 penalties throughout his career.
He may be 39 years old, but Zlatan is still making a difference out there for AC Milan in arguably one of Europe’s toughest leagues – the Serie A.
Of course, the majority of Ibrahimovic’s goals from the spot came at Paris Saint-Germain.
5. Thierry Henry
It was never boring watching Henry step up to take a penalty for Arsenal. You could never quite predict what he was plotting given his vast array of tricks and interest in experimenting.
Overall, Henry only missed seven times out of 35 attempts for club and country. Two of those came during his time for Arsenal, where he finished as the club’s record scorer on 226 goals.
4. Matt Le Tissier
Now this one is probably a surprise entry for a lot of people, but Le Tissier deserves a spot nonetheless. While he didn’t have the most eye-catching career, the midfielder’s penalty instincts were unrivaled in England.
The former Southampton star boasted a fearsome record for penalty and so good that he was christened ‘Le God’ by fans. Transfermarkt stats claim that Le Tissier never once missed a penalty.
3. Marco van Basten
A conversion rate of 94% proves what a brilliant penalty taker Van Basten was during his illustrious career. He was often AC Milan’s go-to-guy for penalties and for good reason as well.
The legendary Dutchman scored 125 goals for Rossoneri on route to two European titles and three league crowns.
Van Basten was truly one of a kind and ended his career in 1995 as a three-time Ballon d’Or winner.
2. Michel Platini
The Frenchman is regarded as one of the best in history and won three Ballon d’Or awards during his five-year stay at Juventus. His scandalous dismissal as the UEFA president turned fans against him, though.
But this doesn’t take away what an excellent spot-taker Platini was during his playing days, having not missed a single penalty. You could say he was the very definition of clinical.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
To nobody’s surprise, Ronaldo takes #1 spot as the greatest penalty-taker of all-time. It is a somewhat questionable decision given he’s missed 26 spot-kicks in his career, whereas Platini didn’t miss one.
But we took into account the 134 penalties that Ronaldo’s bagged, which far outweighs anyone else on the list. The main cause behind his greater number of misses is down to the fact he’s taken more penalties than anyone else.
The Portuguese is also famed for never losing his cool in decisive moments, like when he scored the winner against Atletico Madrid in the 2016 Champions League final.