Neymar is one of the best penalty takers in the world.
Complete with bizarre run-ups that tend to feature little shimmies and readjustments, Neymar is often far more lethal from spot-kicks than all the theatrics would have you believe.
In fact, so revered are Neymar’s skills from 12 yards that EA Sports have given him the highest in-game rating for penalties on FIFA 22 with his total of 93 ousting Mark Noble and Sergio Ramos.
Neymar’s penalty expertise
The statistics in the real world are pretty promising, too, with Transfermarkt claiming that Neymar has converted 63 of the 77 penalties that he’s taken in his professional career.
While an 81% success rate might not be quite up there with Bruno Fernandes, the proof is very much in the pudding that Neymar is a safe pair of hands – or should we say feet – from penalties.
And his spot-kick speciality can seemingly be traced back to the very start of his career with Transfermarkt listing that Neymar converted 11 of the 14 penalties that he took for Santos.
Neymar’s time at Santos
Before his breakthrough move to Barcelona in 2013, Neymar had been turning heads across the globe with his glorious performances and a penchant for the extraordinary in Brazilian football.
And when he wasn’t earning Puskas Award nominations and humiliating every defender and their dog, Neymar was coming up with a penalty tactic that ranks amongst football’s most ruthless.
That’s because there were multiple instances where Neymar would score a penalty for Santos by stopping right before he kicked the ball and seeing which direction the goalkeeper had dived in.
Neymar’s ruthless penalty technique
Obviously, from that point onwards, Neymar would be staring at a half empty net and would proceed to simply roll the ball into whichever side that the goalkeeper had vacated. Savage.
Now, he didn’t deploy the technique every single time – perhaps so goalkeepers didn’t counteract it – but footage like the video below suggests that Neymar pulled it off at least five or so times.
So, it’s fair to say that the tactic was pretty efficient, but why haven’t we seen Neymar whipping it out for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain? Well, that’s because the laws of the game changed.
Rule changes for 2010/11
That’s because a FIFA ‘Amendments to the Laws of the Game’ document from May 2010 stipulated that feinting at the end of a penalty run-up would no longer be allowed for the 2010/11 season.
The amendment read: “Feinting to kick the ball once the player has completed his run-up is considered an infringement of Law 14 and an act of unsporting behaviour for which the player must be cautioned.”
Rules on penalty run-ups have since intensified to a greater degree, hence players like Fernandes and Jorginho ‘hopping’ instead, so the days of Neymar-like efforts are completely dead and buried.
However, if anything, that just makes the grainy footage of him leaving Serie A goalkeepers flat on their backside all the more unique and amusing.