Skip to Content

15 Best Penalty Takers of All Time

Stepping up and being able to nail a penalty shot is tougher than most fans realize. Even though a properly struck ball from that distance is almost always going to go in and beat the goalie, there is the physical and psychological aspect of every attempt. Players who can’t look past the pressure will overthink their approach and change how they kick.

These 15 players are the best of the best at stepping up in major moments and coming through in the clutch. They make it look easy, even with huge stakes on the line. It is no shocker that all 15 of these players are all considered greats of the game.

15. Sergio Aguero

  • Penalty Goals: 48 (48 of 64)

He has always been a go-to penalty kicker not only for the Argentina national team, but at the club level, Sergio Aguero has shown that he is extremely consistent. He does not try to do anything too flashy when he has the opportunity, as he just goes up there and works on placement more than anything else.

For Manchester City in the last few years, no one has been able to show his level of consistency in big-time matches.

14. Mario Balotelli

  • Penalty Goals: 38 (38 of 43)

The pure talent of Mario Balotelli is hard to really get just by watching him take penalty kicks. He is one of the most well-rounded players of his generation, especially when in his prime. He is known for being quick, creative, and powerful with his shots, and that all comes in handy when taking penalty kicks.

There have been times where he is taking a little bit too many risks in trying to score, but it is hard to deny his pure overall talent. When he gets a clean kick, it does not even have to be perfect to find the back of the net. He rarely misses and started his professional career making his first 21 penalty kicks.

13. Arturo Vidal

  • Penalty Goals: 34 (34 out of 40)

Arturo Vidal has bounced around a little bit as far as a club player is concerned, but he almost always finds himself in a situation to take penalty kicks. He has had the opportunity for some of the biggest clubs in the world, and currently takes the responsibility for Inter Milan at times.

At the national level, Chile has also counted on him as one of the most dependable penalty kickers. He has outstanding technique, plenty of power, and the ability to step up in major situations instead of hiding from the limelight. Without him on Chile’s team, they would not be a challenger at the worldwide level like they are currently.

12. Thomas Muller

  • Penalty Goals: 30 (30 of 37)

Consistency has pretty much been a calling card for Thomas Muller since turning professional. He has played for just one senior team in Bayern Munich, and he shows up in each match ready to contribute in a variety of ways. The same goes for Germany. In both situations, he is counted on time and time again to take penalty kicks in a tough situation.

He does not try to come up with anything crazy with his shots, as he is more of a cerebral player who trusts his overall technique. For a guy playing all the time trying to create scoring opportunities, he steps up and takes care of business when a penalty is assessed.

11. Francesco Totti

  • Penalty Goals: 86 (86 of 105)

The long, productive career of Francesco Totti saw him stick with one club team his entire run. He was with Roma for 16 years, and in his 619 appearances, he took a lot of penalty kicks.

He relied a lot on his technique, putting the ball in just the right corner to beat the goalie almost every time. Even difficult shots looked easy when Totti stepped up in the big moment.

10. Edinson Cavani

  • Penalty Goals: 56 (56 of 69)

Edison Cavani deserves mention as one of the top penalty takers in the modern game of soccer. His numbers might not show that he is amazing, but his team still relies on him consistently for his ability to not shy away from the spotlight.

He has taken plenty of big-time penalties for Paris Saint Germain, Manchester United, and the Uruguay national team.

9. Lionel Messi

  • Penalty Goals: 100 (100 of 129)

It should come as no surprise that one of the best overall players in soccer history is also one of the best penalties kickers as well. He has a powerful and accurate shot with his left foot that can be nearly impossible to read at times.

He also seems to be very comfortable in the biggest moments, which helps him to take care of business. More than likely, Messi still has at least a few more years of taking big-time penalty kicks for whatever team he is on.

8. Ronaldinho

  • Penalty Goals: 69 (69 of 86)

The man who made so many highlight reels for his flashy play and insane juggling skills also happens to be a very technical player. Some people might already forget just how dependable he was as a penalty taker for his club and international teams.

Fans will never remember him as having the most powerful shots in the world, but he spent years and years working on outstanding techniques. Another thing that works in his favor is that he never allowed the moment to get too big for him.

With free-kicks, he would put a lot of bend on the ball. In a penalty kick situation, he hit the ball for power, or by using a knuckleball technique to throw off the opposition.

7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

  • Penalty Goals: 84 (84 of 100)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still playing soccer at a high level, which means he is still taking penalties for the teams he suits up for.

He became one of the best of the best when he was starting for Paris Saint Germain, but he still has something left in the tank when taking penalties. He is never shy of the situation, and he is always willing to step up there and take the pressure shot when it matters most.

6. Robin Van Persie

  • Penalty Goals: 39 (39 of 46)

Robin Van Persie could do a lot of different things out on the pitch, but many people remember him for being such a quality penalty specialist for whatever team he suited up for.

He became one of the most consistent in the Premier League when he moved to Arsenal, and he continued to make the most of his opportunities with Manchester United as well. When he was playing for the national team in the Netherlands, he was often looked at as the man in charge of the most important moments.

5. Robert Lewandowski

  • Penalty Goals: 62 (62 of 68)

Since turning pearl in 2005, Robert Lewandowski has been a virtual machine out on the pitch. He starred for teams like Borussia Dortmund and now for Bayern Munich, and he has been the face of the Polish national team since 2008. No matter where he goes, he is one of those dependable players who can step up and take a penalty kick whenever needed.

One of the things that makes him so great is that he is extremely cool and collected when the spotlight is on him. He focuses more on accuracy than pure power, but he has enough power to make up for a subpar penalty kick in the end.

4. Alessandro Del Piero

  • Penalty Goals: 77 (77 of 92)

A man most remembered for his playing ability for Juventus, he was also the main penalty striker for his country in international play. He had a very accurate shot with outstanding control of his nerves.

It is not so much about having the most powerful kick in a time like this, but it was strong enough that goalies could not even reach a lot of his shots even if they predicted where they were going.

3. Steven Gerrard

  • Penalty Goals: 46 (46 of 54)

There are few players in the history of Premier League soccer who can match what Steven Gerrard accomplished. He was one of the most prolific penalty kickers during his run, and Liverpool counted on him time and time again.

During his career, he finished 46 out of 54, with plenty of them being in key situations for whatever team he suited up for.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Penalty Goals: 137 (137 of 164)

There are plenty of arguments for Cristiano Ronaldo as the best penalty kicker of all time. Even though he has some misses in his career, that is going to happen with the number of penalties he has on his resume.

He seems to always be under control and capable of stepping up in the biggest stages, even if he did miss his last one. Since he is well conditioned, even penalties late in the game can be very easy for him to take. Cherishing the moment, whether it ends up good or bad, makes him impossible to break.

1. Frank Lampard

Penalty Goals: 60 (60 of 70)

Frank Lampard has found the back of the net plenty of times for both his club teams and his country. Maybe his most memorable penalty kick goal came in a 2008 UEFA Champions League Final, as he sealed the Manchester United win.

He did the same thing in the semifinal when playing against Liverpool, as his right foot seemed to always deliver at the most crucial moment. Although a few players could be argued for the #1 spot, Lampard’s history speaks for itself.