Nail-biting, intense and often a football supporter’s worst nightmare, a penalty shoot-out is the ultimate final showdown between two sides who cannot find a way to win the game in open play.
A penalty shoot-out occurs if a match is a draw at the end of extra time, acting as sudden death. In a penalty shoot-out, each team gets five shots at goal, and at the end of those whoever has scored the most wins. If it is a draw at the end of that, the shootout goes to sudden death, which is when if one team scores and then the other does not then the latter side is eliminated.
In 2014, a study showed that once a penalty shoot-out reaches the sudden death stage, a player scoring a penalty is 75% more likely than before the sudden death stage. So it is not surprising that many shootouts across the world have continued for long periods of time.
But which penalty shootout took the longest? And how many penalties were taken?
Most Penalties in a Shootout
With an incredible 54 spot-kicks, the world record for the most penalties in a shootout belongs to English clubs Washington and Bedlington. The two English tenth tier sides made history in 2022 at the Ford Quarry Football Hub as Washington won 25-24 following a 3-3 draw.
The Guinness World Record was previously held by Nambian sides KK Palace and Civics, enduring for 48 attempts in the 2005 Namibian Cup. Civics would eventually win the shootout 17-16 setting a world record for 17 years.
Longest Penalty Shootouts in Football History
Longest Penalty Shootout in English Football
The longest penalty shootout in English football is held by tenth-tier sides Washington and Bedlington who fought through a 54-effort Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup shootout in 2022. Following an entertaining 3-3 draw, the two sides went 27 rounds through the sudden death shootout with Washington picking up a 25-24 win.
This shootout ended the world record set one year before by Old Wulfrunians and Lane Head who saw their 44 spot kicks end with a 19-18 victory to Old Wulf in 2021.
Scunthorpe United and Worcester City hold the record for the longest penalty shootout from teams in the EFL, as Scunthorpe won 14-13 from a 32 spot-kick shootout in 2014.
Longest Penalty Shootout in Europe
Besides English clubs Washington and Bedlington, who hold the world record, Greek sides Olympiacos and AEK Athens are currently runners-up for the longest penalty shoot-out in Europe after seeing 29 spot kicks scored from 30 efforts in the 2008-09 Greek Football Cup Final.
Regarded as one of the greatest Greek finals of all time, the two sides finished the game 4-4 before meeting in a dramatic shootout. Antonis Nikopolidis became the hero for his side with his performance helping Olympiacos complete a domestic double that year.
Longest Penalty Shootout in International Game
The longest penalty shootout in an international game belongs to the Netherlands Under 21’s and England Under 21’s who finished an impressive 32-effort shootout in 2007.
As England were second to take the spot-kick, Anton Ferdinand’s missed effort off the crossbar proved to be the deciding fault for England Under 21’s as they lost 13-12 to the Netherlands in 2007 Under 21’s World Cup semi-final.
Longest Penalty Shootout in World Cup Game
While being the very first penalty shootout in a World Cup fixture, interestingly it is the joint longest shootout ever in the tournament. In 1982, West Germany beat France 5-4 after 12 spot-kick efforts were taken to decide the winner of the semi-final shootout. Alongside this fixture, Sweden beat Romania by the exact same scoreline in the 1994 World Cup, earning them a record matching victory in the quarter-finals.
West Germany’s win is often remembered more due to the excitement of the 3-3 draw leading up to the shootout and the drama from Maxime Bossis seeing his effort denied only for Horst Hrubesch to convert his penalty and clinch West Germany a 5-4 win in sudden death.