- Andrea Pinamonti scored a match-winning panenka penalty against Poland
- He reveals he did it, in part, to instill Italy with confidence
- The Inter Milan player admires the panenka ability of Pirlo and Totti
It is known as un cucchiaio (a spoon) in Italy but as a panenka in the rest of the world, named after the Czechoslovakia player whose nonchalant, chipped penalty down the middle of the goal helped his side beat West Germany in the shootout that decided the UEFA EURO 1976 final. Though Italy striker Andrea Pinamonti was born several years after Antonin Panenka's esteemed act, he knew all about the virtues of the panenka and showed his mastery of it against FIFA U-20 World Cup hosts Poland on Sunday.
“The crowd was against us and the goalkeeper was saying things to me too," he told FIFA.com. "I was very confident when I stepped up to take it."
The goal, which came seven minutes before half-time, deflated Poland and their 10,000 fans in Gdynia. Try as they might to come back in the second half, the hosts could not find a way past the excellent Alessandro Plizzari in the Italy goal.
“Another reason I did it was to give the team confidence, which it did," said the Italy captain. "Taking a penalty like that is a show of self-confidence that lifted the whole team.”
“I didn’t know he was going to try it, but you need plenty of character to do something like that,” said Italy coach Paolo Nicolato after the final whistle. “The important thing is that the ball went in. He tried a very technical piece of skill that not everyone can do.”
Pinamonti’s mental strength, coolness and ability to show his team the way forward were the reasons why Nicolato handed him the armband.
“I’ve played a lot for the national team, from the U-15s upwards, and the coach knows me well," said Pinamonti. "He knows I always keep my cool and that he can rely on me.”
Though Pinamonti practices the panenka a lot in training, he has only ever tried it once in a match before, for Inter Milan against Roma in a youth tournament. And when it comes to the players he models his panenka-taking skills on, he has impeccable taste.
“Andrea Pirlo is the player I look up to for these penalties," he said. "I was amazed by his coolness when he scored one against England at EURO 2012. Francesco Totti did it really well too.”