We’ve all been there: your beloved team is in a cup final and with the scores level after extra-time you brace yourself for the nail-biting agony of a penalty shootout.
Most fans cower behind the sofa and can barely watch the drama unfold, but not fans of small Indian Ocean island Réunion. Despite their team missing their first four penalties, the result was never in doubt as amazingly their goalkeeper saved all five penalties taken against him.
You’d think that kind of penalty perfection would be reserved for Germany when breaking English hearts, but this masterclass took place in the tropical paradise of Mauritius, in the heart of the Indian Ocean.
Hosting the Indian Ocean Island Games, a multi-sport event held every four years featuring seven nations based in this idyllic body of water, Mauritius is famed for its honeymoon beaches sprinkled with palm trees.
But there was no place for utopian stereotypes here, the scorching sun fittingly replaced with grey and gloom - with the weather and quality on display this could have been a Sunday league shootout in Hackney Marshes.
First keeper to save all five penalties
With the game level at 1-1, Mathieu Pelops decided now was the time to step up and become a hero for his nation.
In total, out of the ten penalties taken nine were missed. To put that into perspective, prior to the 2018 Russia World Cup 240 penalties have been taken at World Cup shootouts and 170 have been scored - that’s a success rate of just over seven in ten.
And here we are witnessing one guy save a record five out of five in one shootout!
Wedged between Madagascar and Mauritius, Réunion is an overseas department and region of France. Fun fact - Paris Charles de Gaulle to Réunion is the longest domestic flight in the world.
After this performance, Pelops should be flown for his own private victory parade down the Champs-Élysées. As his team crumbled around him, he silenced the rowdy home fans with save after save (after save after save after save!)
Mauritian stopper, James Christopher Caserne, also blocked three penalties but it was Pelops who won gold for his nation with a decisive save in the tenth and final penalty after his teammate scuffed in the only goal of the shootout.
Kind of makes Jordan Pickford’s heroics for England at the 2018 World Cup seem a bit drab...
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