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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Strikers' spot of bother

Matthew Le Tissier scores a penalty for Southampton
Le Tissier was the master from the penalty spot
Who can Premiership penalty duffers Michael Owen, Alan Smith and Thierry Henry turn to for advice?

The questions are flying as to why players who pocket 40,000 a week cannot beat a goalkeeper from 12 yards.

England striker Owen particularly highlights a spotty problem in England's top flight, which has the worst penalty conversion rate of any of Europe's top leagues.


From 12 yards out, it's a free shot and you should score nine times out of ten - at least!
Matthew Le Tissier

Owen has missed half of the 12 spot-kicks he has taken, and with Smith and Henry also contemplating their failure from 12 yards, penalty-taking appears to be a lost art in the Premiership.

It will be no consolation to Owen or the other culprits that the master is not about to conduct a masterclass.

Matthew Le Tissier proved himself to be the spot-kick king, converting 48 of the 49 penalties he took during his career at Southampton.

But there is little point in putting in a call to Le Tissier for a pointer or two.

The Southampton legend told BBC Sport Online: "I don't think I could offer them any advice.

  Le Tiss's secrets
Self belief.
Confidence.
Accuracy and power.
Avoid eye contact
Don't be afraid to miss!

"It's a personal thing and not something you can teach.

"I don't think there was any secret to my success.

"Self belief and confidence were the biggest thing.

"I believed that when I stepped up to take them, I was going to score. It was an easy chance for a goal.

"Being a goalscorer and loving hitting the back of the net, I just didn't want to waste that opportunity."

"From 12 yards out, it's a free shot and you should be scoring nine times out of 10 - at least!"

The perennial question with penalties is whether power pays over accuracy, whether thumpers are more successful than placers.

Nottingham Forest goalkeepr Mark Crossley
Mark Crossley is the only man to deny Le Tissier from the spot

The likes of Stuart Pearce, and West Ham's Ray Stewart, who enoyed a similar reputation to Le Tissier, just blasted their spot-kicks straight down the middle.

Le Tissier, though, says: "I was fortunate that my technique enabled me to side-foot the ball but also with quite a lot of power.

"That was probably the key to my success.

"I always went for the corners. I wasn't brave enough to hit it straight down the middle. That takes a lot of bottle.

"I stuck it in the corner and if the keeper went the right way it was hard enough to beat him."

During the years he almost single-handedly kept Southampton in the top-flight, Le Tissier inevitably spotted the ball up with a huge weight of pressure on his shoulders.


It takes a lot of bottle to step up there in the first place and put yourself on the line
Matt Le Tissier

But he never let a penalty become a mind-game duel between him the keeper 12 yards away from him.

"I never made eye contact with the keeper.

"I kept my eye on what he was doing, but never at his face," says Le Tissier.

"I always chose the corner I was going to put it in before I started my run-up.

"But if the keeper moved towards that corner early enough I could always change my mind at the last minute."

Perhaps the only piece of advice Le Tissier can offer is not to let failure put the Premiership's penalty-takers off.

"It takes a lot of bottle to step up there in the first place and put yourself on the line.

"If you're confident, have missed a couple but still want to take them, then go ahead.

"I did miss one. It was against Mark Crossly at The Dell about 11 years ago.

"But it didn't knock my confidence for the one after that.

"I converted 27 in a row afterwards, and never thought I was going to miss one of them."

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Matthew Le Tissier
"Self confidence and belief are the biggest things"
See also:

22 Sep 02 | Eng Prem
22 Sep 02 | Eng Prem
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