Le Tissier, Cantona, Shearer: penalty kings. Experts, upon whom you could almost bet your mortgage in expectation of a successful penalty conversion. But where on earth are their penalty king successors?

As Tottenham fans, we watched yet another golden opportunity pass us by at Bolton as centre midfielder Tom Huddlestone stepped up for his first attempt at coveting the penalty-taker role, following too many failures from sharp-shooter Jermain Defoe.

One look at the match-day squad for this FA Cup fifth round tie left no doubt that this Tottenham side lack neither mega-millions of investment nor gifted ‘technicians:’ Bentley, Defoe, Kranjcar, Modric, Peter Crouch even, from whom the solution should by now be resolved.

Spurs’ only recent gifted penalty-taker since the departure of Teddy Sheringham has been Robbie Keane, who seemed to revel in the pressure of the moment, and of course right on cue, his first game for Celtic against Dunfermline offered him the opportunity to open his goalscoring account from the spot, which he happily accepted.

Yet in truth it’s not a situation unique to Tottenham. Who are the Premiership’s penalty kings of the recent years? They don’t quite come to mind in the way they used to. Indeed, Graham Alexander, the Burnley left-back has an exceptional record and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard has a hugely impressive success rate. However, when you think of the usual top eight or nine Premiership sides, you won’t find too many hot-shot strikers who dominate both the top-scorer positions and also occupy the big numbers when it comes to penalty kicks .

Drogba and Anelka at Chelsea are behind Lampard in the penalty kick queue at Chelsea, whereas at Liverpool Fernando Torres’ obvious world-class talent is hardly reflected in his penalty-taking prowess. The very fact that Steve Gerrard takes them, despite his previous misses, speaks volumes.

Arsenal, more than any team have abandoned the notion of the traditional centre-forward so the penalty taker has often been changed. As stated, Spurs have had their problems and Everton have never had a definitive hotshot in recent years, certainly not since the departure of Andy Johnson.

Then, there’s the champions: after King Cantona came Yorke and Cole who were largely reliable, followed by the Dutchman Van Nistelrooy who, despite ‘that miss’ against Arsenal in September 2003 was a hugely successful and clinical penalty taker. Yet as United’s formation adapted to the modern game (and the arrival and subsequent departure of Ronaldo) Wayne Rooney, brilliant as he is in almost every other department, has been unable to compound his brilliance with a guaranteed penalty conversion, though one suspects that may change as he continues to both improve and mature, and so the assumption of responsibility becomes as much a part of his game as goals and energy.

Perhaps goalkeepers have become more aware of penalty taker’s preferences, ably assisted by advanced technological advances, and perhaps the modern 4-3-3 or 4-4-1-1 formations have led to less penalty king strikers. There’s no doubt we’re witnessing a new breed of centre-forward and this perhaps has its consequences in respect of the clinical nature of both striker and penalty-taker.

There’s no doubt that the Premiership awaits the return of some penalty kings to compete for the throne. Well, Spurs definitely do anyway. Ready and waiting.



  1. Too many players take a slow run up in the hope the keeper will make a dive so they can hit it down the middle and, when the keeper stands his ground, are stumped as to what to do next, as was the case against Bolton

  2. Hmm, whilst I agree that it isn’t as noticeable as before, you seem to disregard that most teams have a very effective penalty taker – when fit. Man U = Rooney, Chelsea = Lampard, Arsenal = Fabregas/Van Persie, Liverpool = Gerrard (he takes them ahead of Torres based purely on seniority), Man City = Tevez (never misses) and Adebayor is efficient too. Let’s face facts, the responsibility is on Defoe. HE WANTS to take them, and he should practise them and have a variety of approaches. The last few kicks he took were exactly the same. He should study Shearer and Dublin – I think their penalties were simple yet effective. Don’t blame Hudd – young, inexperienced and should be 5th or 6th in line to take it.

  3. The other big question is what the heck would happen should we need a penalty shoot out?!!!! We’d be better off going all out and try to win in 90 mins!

  4. Before his injury,Bale used to take all Spurs penalties and seldom, if ever,failed to score.Isn’t it time to give him another chance.

  5. There is no doubt we are struggling not just on Penaltys but striking this lighter ball under the bar .I wonder what Chivers thinks of this new lighter ball he could strike a ball from thirty yards upwards. Why doesent Harry ask Chivers to give big Tom or Glen Hoddle some coaching after all golfers lose there action big Tom could be Struggling with is knee and keeping quite. I have noticed he hits out to in a lot and never uses is inside of is boot or is instep and this lighter ball fades to much or flies high. This is why i believe Tom was frightened of hitting is shot over or passed the post and elected to side foot and on a wet pitch this would not generate enough power and Jaaskelainen has a habit of coming of is line early and get away with it. Tom would not do this again and we should stick with him or some one else may miss with pressure on the next player.I bet Hudds will not miss again ,

  6. I think Davspurs may be onto something, whilst pretty much everything else is the same now as it was back in the days of shearer / le tiss (pressure, keepers playing games etc) one thing that has changed a lot is the balls. Not necessarily lighter, but they do tend to change a lot from season to season now. The old school strikers would probably have been practicising with the same (or basically the same balls) for years, after a while it just became like clockwork. Whereas now Nike / Addidas are always trying to out do each other and bring out some ‘revolutionary’ new product (it’s a f*ckin ball lads, how revolutionary can it be!?) – which the players have to get used to all over again. They don’t get a chance to get into that instinctive phase with it. Could be a factor. Would be interesting to see some stats on missed penalties by season for the english top flight.

    We’re certainly struggling anyway, i don’t know what planet Beach_Bum is on, Bale has never taken a penalty for Spurs, buy i wouldn’t mind him taking up the role.


  7. The stats a few weeks ago all five penaltys where missed i think it was the Everton week, and the ball has gone lighter not for techno reasons but a player was suing the ball maker or the FA .I am not sure witch one for causing damage to is head and he suffers the same symptoms has a punch drunk Boxer Foster is name was and he had a white sweat band on his head .This year there has bean a bit of teckno in the shapes to give swerve and movment in the air the trouble his the Ball reacts better from distance and dips the last few feet you can miss from two feet and another difficulty is its harder to bring under control .I was brought up playing in the seventys in the street with a ball so light and cheap you could hit a window full belt and it wouidnt crack it . Harry should buy a few of these Balls to practice with i learnt to stop these lighter balls and control them easy you have to cushion it and don’t lunge towards it anybody else played with them cheap street balls Happy days.COYS

  8. I don’t think that’s the case, we have got established penalty kick takers in keano, pav, modric who take them for there countrys and hudd who converts for under 21’s even gudjohnsen can take em and Defoe converted a few in his breif spell at pompei. Hudd just went for placement not power which he knows now was wrong and if I remember rightly keanos last pen for us against Peterborough he missed! In fact our last scorer for a penalty was corluka in the shootoit last season against man u. It’s just not working for us ATM coz were trying to place it and not lace it I’ve alwAys fancied huddelstone a pen kick taker after seeing him break the net for under 21’s 2 seasons ago but arm pen kicks aren’t being practised our prioritys are on long ball and building from the back. All I’m saying is we should convert I agree but we can’t keep thinkig of excuses on why as a spurs fan I hate it when we keep dreaming reasons as to why it’s because were trying to play safe with the placement look at every other pen kick taker gerrard, lamps , fabregas, Rooney all can smash the net from 40 yards zo believe me when they take a pen pLacement is last on thief mind! Even half the time it hits the keeper and goes in from the shear power. So stop dreaming of excuses like we do’t have a taker when we have several it’s just not working coz were tryin to play smart blwhich is the keane approach placement plus even that ain’t working for him in the prem ATM so for future reference lace it don’t place it!

  9. With the money paid to these players today there can be no excuse about ‘can’t’ take a penalty. I watched Carlisle slot 5 better penalties than Defoe’s or Huddleston’s past Leeds last week in a shoot out. If they can do it so should our players. Bale has been saying that Redknapp doesn’t have players practice penalties, which if true is a disgrace. Get it sorted!


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