Pitchside

Rickie Lambert finally missed a penalty – and it ended one of the greatest runs in football

Pitchside

England would have been in fine hands had they got to a penalty shoot-out at the World Cup. All they'd have needed to do was bring on Rickie Lambert, and the former Southampton player could have guaranteed at least one goal from the spot.

That theory never had to be put to the test, however - and it's a shame, because Lambert could have tested the finest penalty-taking record of his generation.

So good is he from the spot that he scored 34 out of his 34 penalty attempts in five years with Southampton. So good is he, indeed, that on joining Liverpool he was immediately handed spot kick duties by manager Brendan Rodgers - despite the Reds having one of football's best spot-kick takers in the game in Steven Gerrard.

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Never walk alone? Never take a penalty again, more like!

Yet Lambert did not repay that faith: on Saturday, in a pre-season friendly against AC Milan, the 32-year-old from Kirkby missed from the spot for the first time since February 2009:

Back then, he was playing for Bristol Rovers against Leicester City. How life has changed, eh?

Despite that miss, it wasn't his move to Southampton that saw Lambert's penalty record improve. At the time of his transfer to the Saints, his miss against Leicester was only the second time in 26 attempts that he'd failed to score from the spot.

His subsequent 34-in-a-row for Southampton gave him the longest consecutive penalty success streak of any English player.

The man he outstripped to claim that title? Another Southampton star, funnily enough: Matt Le Tissier.

Le Tissier's record was even more impressive, however. He missed only one penalty out of the 49 he took in his career; though the fact that the save came almost exactly half-way through his time at Southampton (against Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Mark Crossley in 1993) means that Lambert had the longer unbroken streak.

How do their records stack up against the best in the world?

Pretty well, as it happens. Cristiano Ronaldo's longest streak was 'only' 24 (broken in the 2012 Champions League semi-final against Bayern); Romania's Ovidiu Herea is believed only to have missed once in 11 years as a pro; and Davor Suker only missed two in his career, though admittedly one of those cost Arsenal the 2000 UEFA Cup final.

None of them can hold a candle to the all-time penalty king, however: that accolade belongs to Albanian midfielder Ledio Pano. Over the course of his 16-year professional career with a number of clubs in Greece and Albania, Pano scored over 50 times from the spot - and didn't miss once.

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