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Czech penalty legend Antonin P...
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Czech penalty legend Antonin Panenka seriously ill with COVID-19

Antonin Panenka - the man whose penalty won the 1976 European Championships for Czechoslovakia - is fighting for his life.

The 71-year old has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Panenka's former club Bohemians 1905, of which he is honorary president, confirmed the news on Wednesday evening.

They say he is in intensive care and "connected to devices that support his vital functions".

Panenka's name became a household one worldwide on June 20 1976 when he dinked the decisive penalty of their shootout with West Germany past Sepp Maier.

Czechoslovakia won the shooutout 5-3, after the final in Belgrade finished 2-2.

It was the country's first - and so far only - major championship win.

"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," Panenka once said.

"Since he was a very good goalkeeper it became an expensive proposition for me. So, sometimes before going to sleep I tried to think of ways of getting the better of him, to recoup my losses.

"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.

"I started slowly to test it and apply it in practice. As a side effect I started to gain weight, because I was winning the bets. I started to use it in friendlies, in minor leagues, and eventually I perfected it so I used it in the main league as well.

"The culmination was when I used it at the European Championship. It was the easiest and simplest way of scoring a goal. It's a simple recipe."

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1976 Antonin Panenka Coronavirus Covid-19 Czechoslovakia European Championships Panenka West Germany

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