Penalties are an integral and fascinating part of football. Scoring from 12 yards might sound easy but even the very best footballers of all time have missed a penalty or two.
Over the last two Premier League seasons, 82% of penalties have been scored. This means 42 have been missed!
It is a hotly contested subject as to who the best penalty taker in the world is. So, we’ve collated all the stats and decided to answer that question.
Does Cristiano Ronaldo come out at the #1, where does Lionel Messi stand, or do the likes of Harry Kane or Robert Lewandowski take the accolade? Let’s find out.
Who Is the Best Penalty Taker in the World?
There are a lot of factors that go into determining the best penalty taker in the world.
These include penalties scored, penalties missed, the league/competition they were scored in, and how big, and therefore relevant, the sample size is.
Even when taking the above into account, the results will still be at least somewhat subjective.
Is Ronaldo’s 83% conversion rate with 145 scored superior to Lewandowski’s 89% scoring rate with less than half scored? It’s very much debatable.
Based on the above factors, we rank the top 10 best penalty-takers in the world right now.
The stats from these rankings are taken from our penalty stats database.
10. Zlatan Ibrahmovic
- Scored 84 of 101
- 83% conversion rate
Ibrahimovic is exactly the type of personality you’d expect to be good at penalties – and he is.
He has scored 15 of his first 16 and 38 of his first 41. It’s safe to say Zlatan handled the pressure of taking penalties.
However, experience hasn’t helped him from the penalty spot. The 40+ year old has missed 6 of his last 9 which has somewhat blemished his excellent record.
9. Lionel Messi
- Scored 109 of 140
- 78% conversion rate
Messi gets a lot of criticism for his penalty record but a 78% conversion rate across 140 penalties is worthy of a place in the top 10.
Given the ridiculous number of records he holds, we doubt he’s too bothered by a slightly inferior spot-kick record.
After all, he routinely gives penalties to his teammates and has even used them to pass (which did technically count as a miss). Luis Suarez was all too happy to take the goal, though!
Interestingly, the 7-time Ballon d’Or winner might be changing his penalty technique.
Against Honduras, Messi kept looking at the goalkeeper as opposed to his usual technique of looking at the ball.
He then waited for the keeper to commit to one side, a la Jorginho, and Neymar, before cooly passing it in the other corner.
Whether the Argentinian will stick with that or use both methods remains to be seen!
We also have to take into account when the big penalty kicks come along that he scores them more often than not.
At the World Cup 2022 he scored an in-game penalty in both the quarter-final and final itself, alongside both his shootout pens.
8. Harry Kane
- Scored 58 of 69
- 84% conversion rate
The England captain is one of the most reliable penalty-takers in the world.
His conversion rate has actually improved as his career has progressed, scoring 38 of the last 43.
Outside of Eintracht Frankfurt and Liverpool, Tottenham’s highest-ever goalscorer has never missed a penalty against a team currently competing in either the Champions League or Europa League.
Until England’s World Cup quarter-final clash with France, Kane had never lost a match where he missed a penalty.
Due to his late miss against France, many will question his reliability from the spot but the stats say otherwise.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo
- Scored 146 of 175
- 83% conversion rate
Many would argue Ronaldo is the greatest penalty taker and in terms of sheer numbers and there’s certainly an argument for that.
The 5-time Champions League winner has scored and taken more penalties than anyone in football history – at the elite level at least.
As a result, many cheekily refer to him as Penaldo, which is harsh considering the hundereds of non-penalty goals he has also scored.
We all know how much Cristiano loves the Champions League, with him always saving his best form for the competition. This is evidenced by the fact he has scored his last 13 penalties in Europe’s premier competition.
He finishes 7th on this list because, despite the incredible number of penalties scored, his 83% conversion rate can’t compete with most of the names below.
- Scored 24 of 25
- 96% conversion rate
Fabinho is an interesting case when it comes to penalties.
At Monaco, he was considered one of the most reliable penalty-takers in the world.
However, curiously, when he joined Liverpool he didn’t take one for three and a half years!
He has since scored all three that he has taken but is still behind Mohamed Salah in the pecking order.
Salah has taken Liverpool’s last four, so it looks like Klopp and Fabinho are happy to let Salah continue taking them.
5. Sebastien Haller
- Scored 27 of 28
- 96% conversion rate
Scoring 27 of 28 penalties is impressive.
Most of them came in the Eredivisie, which is why Haller doesn’t find a top 3 spot. He also only has one successful spot kick in the Champions League.
Nevertheless, he is undoubtedly one of the best penalty-takers in the world.
4. Erling Haaland
- Scored 29 of 31
- 94% conversion rate
Haaland is in red-hot form at the moment and is considered by many to be the world’s best striker. His penalty-taking ability isn’t far behind either.
He has scored his last 13 and is Man City’s first-choice from the spot, too.
The goal-orientated Norweigan will no doubt already be targeting lofty goal records, even those of Messi and Ronaldo, and will need all the penalties he can get to have a chance of reaching them.
The reason he slips into 4th place, ahead of Fabinho and Haller, is he has scored his penalties at a slightly higher level in a lot shorter frame of time.
Based on conversion rate, Haaland is the best penalty taker in the Premier League.
3. Olivier Giroud
- Scored 25 of 26
- 96% conversion rate
If you asked the average football fan who the best penalty taker in the world is, few would say Olivier Giroud. For one reason or another, he simply flies under the radar in the penalty conversation.
However, he is clearly one of the best.
Not only has he scored 24 of the 25 penalties he’s taken, but he’s scored his last 16 and done so primarily at the very top level.
For someone who has been scoring penalties for well over a decade, it’s interesting he has averaged just over two a season for that period.
At Arsenal, he shared them with the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez, Pierre Aubameyang, and Santi Cazorla.
Meanwhile, on the international stage, he shares them with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe. The former has only scored 19 of his 30, which certainly raises some eyebrows.
Giroud is perhaps evidence that player power dictates who takes penalties, rather than the manager.
- Scored 74 of 89
- 83% conversion rate
There is no footballer that divides opinion quite like Neymar. The same is true for his penalties.
On the surface, an 83% conversion rate doesn’t warrant 2nd place in the best penalty rankings.
However, upon closer inspection you can make a solid argument the Brazilian is the best penalty in the world right now.
He has scored 41 of his last 44. At the level he’s playing at, with the constant media attention he gets, this is unparalleled.
His penalty technique is quite unique, too. As discussed above, he waits for the goalkeeper to commit to one side before nonchalantly passing the ball the opposite way.
It looks easy but it certainly isn’t – and there doesn’t seem to be anyone better at it than Neymar.
If Messi is copying you, you must be doing something right!
It will be interesting to see if Neymar can continue to fool goalkeepers or whether they’ll finally figure out a way to counteract him.
1. Robert Lewandowski
- Scored 72 of 81
- 89% conversion rate
Lewandowski is the best penalty taker in the world because he ticks all the boxes that make a great penalty taker – scored a lot, taken a lot, and done so at the highest of levels.
He is the only player to have scored more than 50 with an 85%+ conversion rate. Not only he has beaten the 50 mark but he has far surpassed it.
Furthermore, he has scored 16 of his 17 penalties in the Champions League, showing penalties on the biggest stage doesn’t faze him.
His penalty form is also fantastic, having scored 31 of his last 35.
Whatever your way of measuring a great penalty-taker, Lewandowski will perform well on it.
Some will argue Ronaldo for the sheer number he has taken, others Neymar for form and technique and some may believe the conversion rates of the likes of Giroud and Haaland deserve 1st place.
Lewandowski, though, has all of these combined which is why he had to be number one on the best penalty-taker in the world list.
Cristhian Stuani 41/44 93%
Ivan Toney 26/27 96%
Jorginho 41/48 85%
Kylian Mbappe 25/30 83%
There’s certainly a good argument that any of Stuani, Toney, Jorginho and Mbappe deserved a place in the top 10.
We opted to give them the honourable mention slot because the first two’s penalties (Stuani and Toney) have mostly come outside of the top division in the respective countries they’re playing in.
Meanwhile, we decided the number of penalties Jorginho has taken and his conversion rate wasn’t quite worthy of the top 10.
Also, Mbappe’s penalties taken and conversion rate don’t warrant a top 10 placement.
However, the 2022 World Cup golden boot winner did score three penalties in the World Cup final (including one in the shootout) which is more than noteworthy.