Sergio Ramos: The Panenka from Seville
The bullfighting world has already seen a 'Niño Sabio de Camas' (Paco Camino) and 'Faraón de Camas' (Curro Romero) and now we have the 'Panenka de Camas' in Sergio Ramos who is making the headlines for his penalty taking style with the trademark of the legendary Czech player. Six goals in six attempts and all taken with the trademark 'dink'. Many analysts say that there is a high element of luck involved with this style of kick, it is also seen as a humiliation for the team on the receiving end and the taker does end up looking like a chump should the keeper stand his ground and catch the ball. There will always be an element of failing to hit the target from the penalty spot but a higher level with a Panenka style kick, but as we know, there is little that intimidates Sergio Ramos.
I still vividly recall watching the first Panenka penalty back in 1976. I was in the El País newsroom and the game was on a small black and white screen. The Euro 76 final between Czechoslovakia and West Germany was tied at 4-4 in the shootout after extra time. Uli Hoeness blasted over for the Germans and up stepped Antonin Panenka. The Czech player faced the safe hands of Sepp Maier who was one of the finest keepers around at the time. A short run up from the then Bohemians Prague player and the rest, as they say is history as he dinked the ball into the net with Mailer having already committed himself. Czechoslovakia were proclaimed champions of Europe and Sepp Maier allegedly refused to congratulate Panenka following the kick.
Back in the pre-Kubala era (1950s), defenders were usually enlisted to take spot kicks as they were famed for their power. This was a time of heavy leather balls and the men at the back were renowned for their ability to whack the ball away from the danger area and therefore called upon when a penalty kick was awarded. Kubala bucked the trend tending to use precision over power when enlisted with the responsibility from the spot, Puskas later opted for the placement too. Penalty taking changed from being a uncultured thump at goal to a more cultured art form of placement and precision. Sergio Ramos now reclaims penalty taking for the defenders and has now mastered the art of the 12-yard-kick with a dexterity from the spot that László Kubala would be proud of.
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