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Doing the Panenka

by Alan Záruba (3035 words)

Antonín Panenka achieved international football stardom with a ruse that scored a critical goal for the Czechoslovak national team in 1976. He talks about the childhood that formed him as a sportsman and how he invented the penalty kick that bears his name.

*The final match of the 1976 UEFA European Football Championship in Belgrade was a historic match. The powerhouse West Germans and underdog Czechoslovaks fought to a 2:2 tie unbroken after 30 minutes of extra time, making it the first time that a major international title would be decided by a penalty shootout. Against the world’s best goalkeeper, Sepp Maier, in the biggest game of his career, with the whole tournament riding on his final kick, Antonín Panenka took a long running start and charged the ball ferociously. Only at the last minute, as Maier started to dive for the expected cannon-ball blast, did Panenka chip the ball delicately to the centre of the goal to win Czechoslovakia its first and only Euro trophy.

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