Which is cooler: Andrea Pirlo‘s down-the-middle chip-shot of a penalty kick for Italy vs. England, or his utter calm as he trots back to midfield after?
As the BBC says, “To have the bottle to dink a penalty down the middle like that is frankly outrageous.”
Pirlo clearly has “the bottle,” yes. Italy were trailing 2-1 on penalty kicks when he took his shot, making it all the more audacious. A miss and they’re sure losers. That’s a heady veteran, age 33, sending a message to his team: “No sweat.”
It’s not the first time a footballer has pulled the trick under pressure. Antonin Panenka famously chipped in for Czechoslovakia vs. West Germany to win Euro 1976:
And Francesco Totti did it for Italy against the Netherlands in 2000:
Still, Andrea Pirlo says he did not pre-plan his shot:
“It came on the spur of the moment,” the Juventus midfielder said. “I saw the goalkeeper, he was moving a bit too early, so I decided to shoot in that fashion.”
He should get used to talking about it, if Panenko is any guide:
“For me, the penalty was a double-sided coin. On the one hand, it was fantastic to score the goal that won the European Championship for my country, and even now, over 35 years on, people still talk about it the whole time. But on the other hand, it’s the only thing that many people remember me for. The other goals, the free-kicks, everything else I did in my career didn’t seem to matter. Everyone only ever wants to talk to me about this penalty.”
Still, better than being known 35 years later as the guy who missed the penalty.