In the final of the 1976 European Championship he kicked the penalty that gave the then Czechoslovakia the title. It stung her. Since then that play bears his name. He just recovered from coronavirus.
Sepp Maier, huge German goalkeeper, still can’t believe it now. More than four decades passed. And that goal – a penalty, decisive – is still beating. “It bit her a la Panenka”, it is said even now.
It is audacity. Final of the 1976 Eurocup. Belgrade, Red Star stadium. The match between the Czechoslovaks and the Germans had ended in a draw at two goals until the extension. It was the first final of the local residents against the giant who was defending the title.
And the guy, who is 71 years old today, went kicking at history and its people. Quiet, as if nothing happened around those 30,000 viewers. Or little else. Meek. Like a feline before attacking its prey.
It was. It stung her. Goal and title.
From that occasion, the play became imitation and even epic and magazine. And icon of daring. Like Sebastián Abreu in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with Uruguay’s shirt against Ghana in the quarterfinals.
And now, more than 40 years later, there is no shortage of a weekend in which a footballer in a league in the world pays tribute to him and arouses admiration for his daring photocopied of the original Panenka. Or even a taunt and a place in the blooper ranking if the archer guesses the intention.
Panenka had a hard time these days when much of humanity is having a hard time. The pandemic had him isolated and hospitalized. Just this Wednesday he was discharged from a hospital in Prague after catching the coronavirus.
“I received my father in the hospital this morning and took him home,” the former footballer’s son, Tomas Panenka, told the website of the Bohemians, the Prague club where the midfielder played and of which he is honorary president.
Tomas Panenka added that the latest Covid-19 tests carried out on his father were negative but clarified that “he still has pneumonia.”
Likewise, he added, “The doctors say you don’t need to stay in the hospital”, reported the Italian agency ANSA.
In addition to playing for his country’s national team between 1973 and 1982, Panenka achieved fame and glory thanks to his ability to hit free throws. And it should be said: also to his mustache, very typical of the 70s and 80s.
In 1980 he moved to Vienna to play for SK Rapid Vienna. During his tour of Austria, without knowing a word of German at the beginning, he received the help of his compatriot and also a footballer, Josef Kadraba.
His history in the world didn’t live up to the myth: participated in the World Cup in Spain in 1982. He made the only two goals for his team in the tournament, against Kuwait and against France.
Both were criminal. But those times it didn’t bite her.
The story had already been built six years earlier.