On this day 40 years ago, the panenka penalty kick was born

On this day 40 years ago, the panenka penalty kick was born

Published Jun. 20, 2016 2:54 p.m. ET

The panenka is a work of art. The skill it takes to pull off a chipped penalty kick, even more so the confidence to try it, is beautiful.

Why is it called a panenka and when did it make its way into the sport, though? We go back 40 years to the day and the 1976 European Championships final.

Czechoslovakia and West Germany had played through 90 minutes and then extra time with nothing to separate them, so the match went into penalties. And there, Antonin Panenka stepped to the spot. He was Czechoslovakia's fifth shooter and all he had to do was bury his kick to become a European champion. But instead of drilled the ball to a corner, he simply let the goalkeeper go diving while he coolly chipped the ball right down the middle.

And thanks to the miracle of the internet and YouTube, you can watch it right here.


Right then, the panenka was born. Both as a fixture in the sport and with its new name, after the man who did it on the biggest of stages.

The panenka is still rare. It's so difficult and takes such guts to do -- because if it doesn't work you look like a fool -- and that's why we admire the likes of Andrea Pirlo, who can do them so perfectly. Now imagine it in a European final, because that's why Panenka did.

June 20, 1976. It was a beautiful day. And a historic one.