Spot-kick pioneer Panenka in ICU with COVID-19

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Czech footballer Antonin Panenka is in intensive care at a hospital after contracting COVID-19, his former club Bohemians 1905 said on Wednesday.

Panenka, 71, scored a unique winning penalty against Germany in the 1976 European Championship, which has been copied by some of the game’s greatest players, to win the tournament for his side.

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He led the Czechoslovakia national team to their only international title after he lofted the decisive penalty past a surprised and sprawling German goalkeeper Sepp Maier in the shootout of the ’76 final.

The shot — now called a Panenka — is a simple technique in which the player gently chips the ball down the centre of the goal assuming the keeper will dive to the right or left.

“Antonin Panenka was taken to an intensive care unit today, in a serious condition. We will not comment more on his state. Tonda, let’s go!” Bohemians 1905 said on Twitter.

The club later said that Panenka tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Many of the world’s greatest players have attempted Panenkas in big matches. France’s Zinedine Zidane gave France a 1-0 lead over Italy in the 2006 World Cup final with the shot, while Andrea Pirlo netted one for Italy against England at Euro 2012 in a shootout.