Jason Cummings has forged a decent career in both the Scottish and English football leagues and represented not one, but two countries at international level (Scotland and Audstralia), yet there's a fair chance he will mainly be remembered for the dreadful error he made while playing in India this week.
The 28-year-old striker netted twice in a 2-1 victory for Indian Super League side Mohun Bagan Super Giant over Maldivian minnows Maziya in the AFC Cup on Monday. However, it was the manner in which he messed up a chance to score from the penalty spot that will forever go down in infamy.
Already 1-0 up, Mohun Bagan were presented with a golden chance to double their lead after being awarded a penalty five minutes before half-time.
The Australia forward decided against a straightforward conversion from 12 yards and instead attempted to execute one of the most cursed penalty routines in football history: the two-man trick shot.
Instead of shooting, Cummings tried to flummox the Maziya goalkeeper by craftily backheeling the ball to onrushing strike partner Dimitri Petratos. But his misplaced lay-off failed to find its target and Petratos was beaten to the ball by a defender before having a chance to slot home.
So why didn't the two-man trick shot work? Because it never works. In fact, Cummings and Petratos were the second duo to fail with the routine in less than a week after Mauro Icardi and Kerem Akturkoglu suffered the same fate as part of a similarly bungled attempt while playing for Galatasaray six days prior.
Indeed, history has proven time and time again that when it comes to penalty procedure, the addition of a second party usually ends up making fools of both takers.
So if you happen to be presiding over a spot-kick and are unable to resist the temptation to attempt the two-man technique, then we strongly recommend you peruse our timely and cautionary guide.
1. Heed the warnings from history
The footballing annals are littered with examples of risible penalty kicks, with the notorious "Panenka" chip down the middle being one of the most perilous to pull off. But it is closely followed by the detestable "double act" method.
Even the great Johan Cruyff has proven that the most naturally gifted players can be made to look like rank amateurs in its midst, as the Dutch icon (and Ajax teammate Jesper Olsen) found out in a match against Helmond Sport in 1982.
2. Discuss a plan with your teammate first
When trying the penalty trick against Manchester City in 2005, Arsenal duo Thierry Henry and Robert Pires weren't afforded any time to go over the finer points of their attempt and seemed to be completely unaware of their respective roles in the ensuing mess.
"It was Thierry's idea and of course it was my mistake, because I missed the ball," Pires later said. "I regret the pass but not the penalty. It was a good idea, the people need to watch something new and the penalty between me and Thierry was a new thing. Sometimes in football, I know it was a big mistake, but sometimes you need some fantasy on the field. For me it was a good fantasy but unfortunately I missed the pass. But it was a good idea."
3. Make sure you hit the target
¡GOO... NO DE GALATASARAY!— beIN SPORTS Español (@ESbeINSPORTS) September 26, 2023
Penal para la visita, pero Aktürkoglu se la pasa a Icardi, que erra el cobro
🍿 No te pierdas el Istanbulspor vs. Galatasaray en vivo por beIN SPORTS Ñ 💥#SuperLig 🇹🇷 #İSTvGS pic.twitter.com/G4usjvsiyX
This should be the minimum requirement for any penalty, but it only increases in significance the more unnecessary and overwrought your approach proves to be.
Please take note, Mauro Icardi.
4. Keep calm and keep it down
As a further extension of the preceding point, it's equally vital that should you make unscathed through the first stage of the two-man penalty (i.e. your lay-off successfully finds its mark) then it's up to the second player to keep a cool head on their shoulders.
Back in March, Rayo Vallecano midfielder Isi Palazón showed exactly what happens when you steam on to the dummy spot-kick at full tilt, exchanging grace under pressure for a wild shot that ended up in orbit.
5. Don't worry about the goalkeeper's feelings
A lesson in how NOT to do the Henry/Pires trick penalty 🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/ie7Gf1WaF1— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) March 31, 2019
Be warned -- as shown by Mehdi Taremi and Abdulaziz Hatem of Qatari side Al Gharafa in 2019 -- too much empathy with the opposing goalkeeper can lead to a penalty taker's lower limbs suddenly going limp at the most inopportune of moments. If you are worried about sudden-onset wet spaghetti syndrome, then just get your head down and put your laces through it!
6. If in doubt, do what Lionel Messi does
For all the words of caution, it should be noted that there have been instances -- however rare -- that the two-man penalty has been correctly executed with precision and panache.
The bad news is that you and your partner will probably have to possess a telepathic understanding on par with Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez during their 2015-16 Barcelona heyday to pull it off without ending up looking foolish.