Carlo Cudicini’s secret to saving 36% of pens during Chelsea and Spurs career

Former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini has opened up about his impressive record of saving penalties.

The Italian spent over a decade in the Premier League and while much of that was spent on the substitute's bench, he was – for a time – considered among the very best keepers in the country.

He arrived at Chelsea in 1999 relatively unknown, but quickly endeared himself to fans following a string of high-calibre performances and reflex saves.

But what also stood out was his knack for saving penalties, and the man himself says he owes it all to relentless off-field analysis.

"I put [my penalty record] down to two main things. First of all, I studied a lot … I was always analytical," said Cudicini speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Aston Villa v Chelsea.

"Every season, starting in July, I was taking notes of penalty takers – especially in pre-season. Penalty takers give a lot away on pre-season tours.

"I created a book every season where I made notes – it's something I did off my own back. Of course, we're talking about 15 or 20 years ago; it's a lot easier now to get that sort of information because pretty much every match is accessible to watch.

"But at that time, I'd regularly be reading match reports from games I couldn't watch, and I'd be looking for things like 'scored to the goalkeeper's left' or 'missed to the right', so I'd put all of that information into my notes."

The 48-year-old stressed that context was also a vital part of his penalty preparation, insisting that a player taking a spot-kick in the first minute is completely different to that same player taking one in the last minute.

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"It's the same as taking a penalty when you're 3-0 up versus when you're drawing 0-0 and you're potentially scoring the winner. They're completely different scenarios, and with that comes a completely different approach from the taker.

"It's a different pressure. As a goalkeeper, you have to be able to understand and read the situation. In my experience, if I was facing a penalty from a player who always puts the ball to my right, but his team is 3-0 up, I can quite confidently say he's going to try something different because the pressure is off.

"But if it was 0-0, in the 89th minute, in my opinion, nine times out of ten, he'll go for his favourite corner; the area he's most used to putting the ball."

Over the course of his career, Cudicini saved 36.3% of the penalties he faced – which just goes to show how much his research helped him, especially considering he wasn't the tallest of keepers.

The Italian arrived at Stamford Bridge from Serie B side Castel di Sangro after being recommended to Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli.

He quickly established himself as the Blues' first-choice keeper and won the club's Player of the Year award in 2002.

A year later, he won the ITV Premiership Goalkeeper of the Season award, but Petr Cech's arrival in 2004 pushed him down the pecking order.

He left Chelsea in 2009 and joined city rivals Spurs, but once again found himself playing second-fiddle – this time to Heurelho Gomes.

Following his retirement, Cudicini returned to Chelsea as part of Antonio Conte's coaching staff, and two years ago was appointed technical coach for the club's loan players.

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