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Top Ten - Prepare for Pens

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Skysports.com takes a look at a few of those to have failed from 12 yards with the whole world watching

Stepping up to take a penalty is nerve-wracking enough in Sunday League football, with the weight of expectation enough to turn the strongest of legs to jelly.

Imagine then, if you can, what it must be like to have to take responsibility from 12 yards with the eyes of the world burning a hole in the back of your head.

Admittedly, those fortunate enough to grace the World Cup finals are, in theory, the best in the business and really should not have any trouble finding the back of the net.

Pressure can do strange things, though, and all of a sudden the target looks minuscule and the goalkeeper starts to look like a giant.

Your palms start to sweat, your boots feel like they are made of lead and you begin to question yourself.

Should I put it right or left? Or perhaps straight down the middle? Confusion is now thrown into the mix, and the referee's whistle has already gone - there is no turning back now.

For some ecstasy awaits, as they hold their nerve just long enough to sweep the ball home.

Some, though, are not quite so lucky, with their effort beaten away by the keeper, cannoning back off the woodwork, or sailing into orbit.

Over the years England have led the way when it comes to failing spectacularly from the spot, with Three Lions followers enduring more penalty shootout heartache than is medically advisable.

They are by no means the only ones to have buckled when the going gets tough, though, as skysports.com's run down of the Top Ten World Cup penalty misses proves.

Don Masson - 1978

Scotland's World Cup adventure in 1978 was forgettable for a whole host of reasons, but a 3-1 defeat to lowly Peru took the biscuit. It could have been so different, though, had Masson converted from the spot with the scores tied at 1-1. With an hour gone, he was handed the task of firing the Scots in front, putting them on course for three much-needed points. Unfortunately, the Peruvian keeper Ramon Quiroga had not read the script and he sprang to his right to beat the ball away. Scottish hearts sank, leaving them open to a late rally which all but ended their Argentinian adventure.

Maxime Bossis - 1982

An epic semi-final contest between West Germany and France in 1982 did not deserve to produce a loser, but one side had to see their dreams crushed. With 120 minutes of enthralling entertainment failing to separate the sides, as they drew 3-3, the game went to a shootout. Both sides traded misses early on, before Bossis stepped up for France. He looked far from confident as he approached the ball and his tame effort was easily kept out by Harald Schumacher. Germany went on to book their place in the final, leaving Les Bleus distraught. They had every right to feel aggrieved as well, as Schumacher should not have still been on the field to produce his spot heroics following a horrific challenge on Patrick Battiston during normal time.

Michel Platini - 1986

One of the all-time greats, Platini proved in 1986 that even footballing heroes are human. As the talismanic leader of the French side, few questioned Platini's right to penalty duties. There were plenty of furrowed brows, however, after he failed from 12 yards during a quarter-final showdown with Brazil in Mexico. Platini went through his tried and trusted ritual, kissing the ball and delicately placing it on the spot, but the end result was woeful. He lofted the ball high over the bar, much to the despair of those of a French disposition. Platini was let off the hook as France went on to triumph in a shootout, but he should have had things wrapped up long before then.

Roberto Donadoni - 1990

The long walk from the centre-circle to the penalty area is made all the more arduous when a place in the World Cup final is up for grabs. That was the situation facing Italian midfielder Donadoni when he stepped up against Argentina in 1990. Six spot kicks had already been successfully converted and it was left to the AC Milan ace to put the Azzurri back in front. Unfortunately, he failed to find the target and Diego Maradona's Argentina marched on instead. Little did he realise at the time, but penalties would become a major thorn in Donadoni's side. He suffered further heartache in the 1994 World Cup final and was manager of Italy when they crashed out of Euro 2008 on penalties to Spain.

Chris Waddle - 1990

Both semi-finals at Italia 90 went all the way to a shootout, with arch-rivals England and West Germany locking horns in the other last-four showdown. A 1-1 draw sent the tie into extra-time, before the lottery of penalty kicks unfolded. At this point England had no history of spot-kick misery, and there was a quite optimism within the ranks. That soon evaporated, though, as Stuart Pearce saw an effort saved and Chris Waddle blazed high, wide and handsome. The Germans, efficient as ever, held their nerve to go through, while England put in motion a sequence of events that has seen them come unstuck in shootouts on no less than five occasions in major tournaments.

Roberto Baggio - 1994

Arguably the most famous World Cup penalty failure of all-time, Baggio's glittering career will forever be haunted by his woeful effort against Brazil in 1994. The Divine Ponytail had been Italy's star man throughout the tournament in America, and were it not for him the Azzurri would have got nowhere near the final. However, having got them there, Baggio was expected to take them all the way. The fairytale ending never materialised, though, as he lashed miles over the crossbar, handing the global crown to Brazil for a fourth time.

David Batty - 1998

England once again snatched dramatic defeat from the jaws of victory in 1998 as they battled bravely to no avail against Argentina. A game packed with iconic memories, such as Michael Owen announcing his arrival on the world stage and David Beckham's petulant kick out at Diego Simeone, was only ever going to end one way. Sure enough penalties came and went, with England packing their bags out of another major tournament. Paul Ince and Batty both put in poor efforts from the spot, allowing the Argentines a safe passage into the quarter-finals. The shootout will also be remembered for Kevin Keegan's infamous prediction as Batty stepped up, with the future Three Lions boss left red-faced after boldly claiming that the midfield enforcer would do the business.

Jamie Carragher - 2006

Eight years on from that painful night in St Etienne, England were at it again when the World Cup bandwagon rolled into Germany. Under the guidance of Sven-Goran Eriksson, the Three Lions stumbled their way into the last eight. There they met Portugal, who had dumped them out of the European Championships on penalties two years earlier. There would be no revenge, though, for England as they once again made a complete mess of the opportunity placed in front of them. Steven Gerrard and Franck Lampard led the way, before Jamie Carragher became the third Englishman to be left holding his head in his hands.

David Trezeguet - 2006

Trezeguet was the man to put Italy to the sword in the European Championship final in 2000, with his Golden Goal sealing the title for France. Six years on and the same two sides went head-to-head in the World Cup final, and once again Trezeguet found himself centre stage. This time he fluffed his lines, though, with his failure from the spot costing France dear. He crashed the ball against the bar, with Gianlugi Buffon, having gone the wrong way, and French dreams died. Trezeguet was inconsolable as Italy duly sealed the win, with the tears he shed shared by those back home who had dared to believe that Raymond Domenech's side could pull off an improbable success.

Diana Ross - 1994

We will wrap things up on a light-hearted note, with all this doom and gloom doing little to raise spirits. Our final offering may not have come from a professional player, but it is arguably the worst of the efforts on our list. Motown diva Ross was the star attraction at the opening ceremony of the 1994 World Cup, as America sought to embrace 'soccer'. She proved to be as clueless, though, as most of her fellow compatriots when it came to the beautiful game, as she took one of the most comical penalties ever seen. Required to knock the ball six yards past an actor pretending to be a goalkeeper, she somehow managed to scuff the ball wide. Unfazed Ross carried on regardless, which is just as well as her singing helped to drown out the sniggers in the stands.

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