Antonín Panenka and the most famous penalty shootout in history

45 years ago, Antonín Panenka made football history, scoring the decisive goal for Czechoslovakia in a penalty shoot-out after the final of the European Cup of Nations against West Germany in Belgrade ended in a draw.

Prague club Bohemians player Antonín Panenka put the ball in the penalty spot and calmly waited for the German goalkeeper Sepp Maier to dive before gently slotting the ball in the centre of the goal.

Antonín Panenka | Photo: David Sedlecký,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 3.0

It was the decisive moment of the final match of the 1976 European Championship in Belgrade between Czechoslovakia and West Germany, which, after a 2-2 draw, came down to a penalty shootout. After a missed penalty by Uli Hoeneß, Antonín Panenka made the most famous kick of his career, which has become known as the “Panenka” in England, Latin America as well as in Germany.

"I have an advantage in my name. Panenka is pronounced the same way in all languages, so people remember it well. I must admit I never thought that my penalty from the European Championship final would become so famous. I definitely didn't kick it that way for that reason," the European champion, who is extremely popular in the Czech Republic, said about his legendary kick.

Since then he has had many famous followers including Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. There have also been many who have failed.  Antonín Panenka was the first with his "falling leaf" technique and made an unforgettable mark among the legends of world football.