Four players who suffered penalty heartbreak... and earned redemption

After a dramatic penalty shootout in the Euro 2020 final, Planet Sport looks at four players who missed major spot-kicks but earned redemption later down the line.

Marcus RashfordJadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka became the latest victims of England's penalty curse in the Euro 2020 final.

However, with the trio's careers still in their infancy, they have plenty of time to follow in the footsteps of these players who suffered similar fates, yet fought back from adversity.

Stuart Pearce

One of the most famous redemption stories involves the legendary England defender, Stuart Pearce.

The Three Lions enjoyed a successful run in the 1990 World Cup with Pearce playing every minute of every game for England.

Following victories over Belgium and Cameroon in the knockout stage, Bobby Robson's side took on West Germany in the tournament's semi-final.

England team at the 1990 World Cup
England team at the 1990 World Cup

After 120 minutes, both teams were inseparable with the score locked at 1-1. The match went to a penalty shootout as a place in the World Cup final hung in the balance.

The opening six penalties were all successfully converted. The seventh was down to Stuart Pearce. But despite his enormous run-up, the penalty was poor. As the ball left his foot, millions around the world watched on as Bodo Illgner dived to his left and produced the save which left the defender in tears.

Pearce was not the only penalty casualty that night but that would have been little consolation. After Chris Waddle missed his spot-kick, Germany celebrated the victory which would ultimately lead to another world title.

England's Stuart Pearce takes his penalty against West Germany
England's Stuart Pearce takes his penalty against West Germany

Pearce went on to have his moment of redemption but it would take six years before he could finally root out his 1990 demons.

England, as the hosts of Euro '96, came into the tournament with a weight of expectations on their shoulders. Pearce, meanwhile, entered the competition with a chip on his shoulder. He had unfinished business. 

The Three Lions won their group and progressed to the quarter-final where they took on Spain.

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Neither team was able to find a breakthrough throughout in 120 minutes, meaning England would have to face a penalty shootout for the first time since the heartbreak of 1990.

With the hosts leading 2-1, Pearce placed the ball on the 12-yard mark. On this occasion though, he comfortably converted before celebrating with an explosion of emotion. In a matter of seconds, his conscious was clear and his mind was finally at peace.

His reaction to the goal ended up being one of the images of the entire tournament.

Stuart Pearce celebrates scoring his penalty
Stuart Pearce celebrates scoring his penalty

England progressed to the semi-final where they inevitably lost to the Germans - again, via a penalty shootout.

This time though, it was Gareth Southgate who missed from the spot as England suffered another major tournament heartbreak.

Andriy Shevchenko

The 2005 Champions League final will go down in history as one of the greatest games of all time. That, however, won't be the case for Andriy Shevchenko.

His AC Milan side famously took a 3-0 lead before crumbling in the second-half and surrendering their advantage to Liverpool.

AC Milan's Andriy Shevchenko and Liverpool's Dietmar Hamann
AC Milan's Andriy Shevchenko and Liverpool's Dietmar Hamann

After 120 minutes, the score was 3-3, meaning a penalty shootout would determine the next champions of Europe.

The Italian outfit got off to a horrendous start missing both of their opening efforts. Nevertheless, they fought back and had a chance to make it 3-3 when Shevchenko stepped up.

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Instead, the Ballon d'Or winner saw his spot-kick spectacularly saved by Jerzy Dudek, who ran away in celebration as Liverpool claimed their fifth European crown.

AC Milan got their revenge two years later after beating the Reds 2-0 in the 2007 final. However, Shevchenko had already moved on and missed out on his second European Cup with the club.

Jerzy Dudek saves Andriy Shevchenko's penalty
Jerzy Dudek saves Andriy Shevchenko's penalty

But just because he missed that one specific moment, it doesn't necessarily mean he never got his redemption.

In fact, Shevchenko's moment of vindication came while representing his national side, Ukraine.

The forward led his side to the 2006 World Cup after scoring six goals in the qualifying stage. This was Ukraine's first major tournament as an independent nation and it proved to be a truly historic one - especially for Shevchenko himself.

Ukraine at the 2006 World Cup
Ukraine at the 2006 World Cup

The opening game didn't exactly go to plan after suffering a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain. However, a 4-0 win of their own against Saudi Arabia put the Ukrainians on the verge of the knockout stage.

Their final group game was against Tunisia and in the context of progression, it was a must-win affair.

As expected, 72,000 fans in Berlin were treated to a close context which for 70 minutes showed no signs of swinging one way or the other.

Then, with 20 minutes go, Ukraine were awarded a spot-kick. The fouled man, Shevchenko, decided to step up and take his biggest penalty since that 2005 defeat.

Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko takes his penalty against Tunisia
Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko takes his penalty against Tunisia

The Ukrainian captain didn't let the pressure faze him as he tucked away his penalty and joyfully celebrated his moment of redemption.

Ukraine were through to the round of 16 where they took on Switzerland in Cologne. The match ended 0-0 and went to a penalty shootout. The now-vindicated Shevchenko stepped up first for his nation but failed to convert - bringing back memories of the Liverpool defeat.

However, his miss was quickly forgotten as Ukraine won 3-0 and booked their place in the quarter-final.

A subsequent 3-0 defeat to Italy ended their World Cup run but it was certainly a campaign to remember, not only for Ukraine but also their star striker.

Sergio Ramos

After a 16-year spell at Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos certainly had his fair share of memorable moments.

One story which will live long in the memory is his tale of redemption against Bayern Munich.

It all began in the 2011/12 season when Real and Bayern were drawn together in the semi-final of the Champions League.

The Bavarians took a 2-1 lead in the opening leg with Mario Gomez scoring a 90th-minute winner.

In the second match, it was Real who picked up a 2-1 success courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo's eight-minute brace. Nevertheless, with the score 3-3 on aggregate, the finalists would have to be determined via a penalty shootout.

Bayern led 2-1 by the time Ramos stepped up to take his effort. Ronaldo, Kaka, Toni Kroos (playing for Bayern at the time) and Philipp Lahm had already missed their spot-kicks as the pressure began to tell.

Ramos, to the bitter disappointment of the home crowd, followed in their footsteps as he sent his effort high over the bar. Moments later, Bastian Schweinsteiger booked Bayern's place in the final with a well-converted effort.

But that's not where the story ends.

Two years later, the two European giants were once again drawn together in the semi-final. The Spaniard was determined to set the record straight.

Madrid's Sergio Ramos in action against Bayern Munich
Madrid's Sergio Ramos in action against Bayern Munich

Bayern, who were the defending champions, may have lost the opening leg 1-0 but expectations were still high when they welcomed Real for the second game at the Allianz Arena.

The stage was set for Ramos to have his own moment of redemption, and the Spaniard certainly delivered.

Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring the opening
Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring the opening

Ramos scored two goals in the opening 20 minutes to completely stun the German outfit.

The brace - both headers - allowed Real to kick on and clinch a 5-0 aggregate victory over arguably their biggest rivals in European soccer.

Ramos finally had his vindication but he was far from done.

Real took on neighbours Atletico in the final. Things didn't initially go well for Los Blancos, who trailed Diego Simeone's men 1-0 until stoppage time.

One man who never lost hope, though, was Ramos. In the 93rd minute, the centre-back headed the equaliser that sent half of the Estadio da Luz into pandemonium. It was a goal that not only helped to bring about extra time but also left Atletico Madrid truly shell-shocked.

That is evident from the following 30 minutes which saw Real bag three more goals to round off one of the most spectacular Champions League finals in recent memory.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was under a lot of pressure by the time the 2016 Copa America came around.

Argentinian supporters were growing increasingly frustrated by the team's inability to win a major international title.

During Messi's time with the national side, Argentina lost three Copa America finals and also suffered defeat in the 2014 World Cup showpiece.

Nevertheless, La Albiceleste made a good start to the 2016 edition of the South American championship. A 2-1 win over a strong Chile side in their opening game of the tournament certainly lifted confidence.

The national side progressed to the knockout stage having won all three group games; conceding one goal in the process.

Easy wins over Venezuela and the United States saw Argentina book their place in the final - their fourth in five editions of the competition.

In the showpiece, they faced a familiar foe in Chile. After claiming victory in their group game and with a star-studded squad to their disposal, Argentina were seen as the favourites.

On this occasion though, Chile put up a valiant fight and took the World Cup runners-up to extra time. Neither side was able to find a breakthrough, meaning the title would be decided from the penalty spot.

Messi stepped up to take the first penalty for Argentina. However, with 82,000 fans in the stadium, the Barcelona legend failed to convert, striking the ball over the bar.

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The forward looked distraught as he made his way back to the centre circle. Even as others stepped up to the spot, the camera returned to Messi, who was clearly suffering.

As the shootout continued, it turned out to be Chile's night. Lucas Biglia missed Argentina's fourth spot-kick and Francisco Silva converted to seal a historic win.

Not long after, Messi announced his retirement from international soccer. The pressure of failing to win another major final had overwhelmed the forward, who was done with the national side.

The announcement led to a campaign, led by Argentinian supporters, to try and get Messi to change his mind. Further interventions from the mayor of Buenos Aires and even the president of Argentina also took place. The movement culminated with 50,000 people gathering in the centre of Buenos Aires.

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A month later, the news that all Argentinian fans were hoping for was finally announced - Messi was back.

The return didn't bring about immediate success. The 2018 World Cup saw Argentina knocked out by eventual winners, France. What's more the 2019 Copa America saw the nation settle for third.

Then the 2021 Copa America came into view.

The clock was certainly ticking for Messi who had turned 34. If international success was to finally arrive, it would have to come at either this tournament or the following 2022 World Cup.

Argentina kicked off Copa America with a game against, you guessed it, Chile.

A 1-1 draw marked a steady start for the Argentinians. Messi, who scored the opener, looked determined to make this campaign a success.

The nation progressed as group winners before knocking out Ecuador and Colombia in the quarter- and semi-finals. Messi was instrumental throughout.

Waiting for Argentina in the showpiece were the defending champions, Brazil. And if that wasn't hard enough, the host venue was the Maracana - the Mecca of soccer stadiums.

Despite this, Argentina opened the scoring in the 22nd minute through Angel Di Maria. Lionel Scaloni's men managed to hang on to their advantage at the break as Brazil turned up the heat.

As the minutes ticked by, Brazil failed to come up with anything of substance. Eventually, they ran out of time.

As the final whistle blew, Messi's moment of redemption had arrived. Years of frustration, disappointment and criticism had all been banished from the forefront of his mind. 

The forward received the player of the tournament award while also finishing the competition as the joint-top scorer.

Messi's moment of vindication was truly a special one.

READ MORE: The five key personal duels from Italy's Euro 2020 final win over England