THE GERMANS WERE expected to cruise to victory in 1976 after dominating the previous competition and although they had lost the brilliance of Gerd Muller to retirement, his namesake, Dieter, was filling in more than adequately.
They came from 2-0 down to edge past hosts Yugoslavia after extra-time in the semi-finals but now faced a Czechoslovakia team who had impressively seen off both the USSR and Johann Cruyff’s Holland.
Belgrade staged the final and with less than a third of the match played, the holders were staring defeat in the face. Muller pulled one back soon after and in the last minute of regulation time, Bernd Holzenhein snatched an equaliser.
A scoreless extra-time was played out meaning spot-kicks were needed. Current Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness managed to sky his penalty over the bar, which handed Antonin Panenka the chance to cement his name in the history books.
And with the weight of a nation on his shoulders, the Bohemians Praha midfielder remained calm to chip the ball delicately down the middle and send Sepp Maier to one side with a piece of skill which is seen occasionally these days but was a rarity back then.
“After each training session I used to stay behind after a game with our goalkeeper and take penalties – we would play for a bar of chocolate or a glass of beer,” he told UEFA.com recently.
I got the idea that if I delayed the kick and just lightly chipped it, a goalkeeper who dived to the corner of the goal could not jump back up into the air, and this became the basis of my philosophy.”
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