For many, Cristiano Ronaldo’s dead-eyed ruthlessness from 12 yards is another reason to proclaim Juventus’s number seven the finest footballer of the modern era.
In the eyes of others, however, CR7’s remarkable goal tally is rather misleading; unfairly inflated by countless spot-kicks.
‘Penaldo’, as the Lionel-leaning Twitterati would have you believe, has made a career out of massaging his own statistics.
But nothing could be further from the truth. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero and even the great Messi himself have endured high-profile failures from the penalty spot after all.
Ronaldo’s almost unrivalled ability to stare a goalkeeper dead in the eyes, with time spilling over into stoppage time, before slamming the ball into the net with all the pressure in the world on his shoulders deserves far more credit than it gets from pundits and fans alike.
However, the perma-tanned Portuguese superstar is not even the most prolific penalty-scorer in Italian football. Even he could not match Ciro Immobile’s tally of 14 last term, with penalties making up a quarter of the Lazio striker’s record-equalling tally of 36 goals in Serie A.
When Lazio were awarded a spot-kick midway through the second half during Wednesday’s Champions League clash away to Borussia Dortmund, an equaliser was never in doubt.
Sure enough, Immobile did what Immobile does better than anyone from 12 yards, grabbing a point to keep Lazio’s hopes of knockout football alive.
“He is a boy who, with a lot of effort, has had an incredible growth. Today it is with great satisfaction and great pleasure that I underline that he has become a really strong forward.”
If things had worked out differently, Immobile could have been leading the line for Steve Bruce rather than scoring away to Dortmund in Europe’s premiere club competition.
“During the period in which there was talk of the possible purchase of Newcastle by the Sheikh’s fund they called my agent,” Immobile said in quotes translated by Goal over the summer, after the Magpies had offered him a £140,000-a-week contract while purporting to pay £49 million in transfer fees.
“Then the Premier League did not approve that proposal.”
Unfortunately for Immobile, the social media obsessives will never ‘approve’ of him either, with his remarkable record from 12 yards bizarrely used as a criticism rather than a complement.
Not that Lazio will care.
Without Immobile’s remarkable spot-kick record, their first Champions League campaign in 12 years would be hanging by a thread.