David De Gea's Man United penalty miss conjures memories of Steve Simonsen's Sheffield United shocker at Wembley - exactly nine years earlier

Any Sheffield United fans who stayed up late to watch Manchester United’s Europa League final penalty heartbreak last night will have been reminded of events exactly nine years earlier, when their side lost the League One play-off final in similar circumstances.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 10:37 am

For David De Gea in 2021 see Steve Simonsen in 2012 – both goalkeepers tasked with scoring a penalty, rather than saving them, and ultimately missing to cost their team dearly.

While De Gea didn’t get enough on his effort, saved by his opposite number Gerónimo Rulli to seal the trophy for his side Villareal, the same could not be said for Simonsen, who blazed his penalty high over the Huddersfield Town bar and condemn his side to another season in League One.

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Steve Simonsen reacts after his penalty miss in the 2012 League One play-off final at Wembley: © BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

United – the original one, that is – somehow conspired to lose that shootout despite Huddersfield missing their first three spot-kicks, with Simonsen the hero as he saved from Tommy Miller and Alan Lee.

But then, as it came round to sudden death and the goalkeepers were forced to step up, Simonsen was left face down on the Wembley turf as his spot-kick sailed over Alex Smithies’ crossbar and into the jubilant Huddersfield fans behind his goal.

"What was going to separate the two sides was maybe a little bit of magic or, like you saw, a penalty kick,” said then-Blades boss Danny Wilson.

"To save the penalties like Steve did, who would have thought it would come down to that?

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea missed a decisive penalty in the Europa League final: Rafal Oleksiewicz/PA Wire

"He nearly got his hand to two others but that's the way it goes sometimes. I don't know if that's fate but for him to miss the penalty, it's blameless."

Simonsen had made a number of good saves to take the game to extra time and penalties and, to his credit, fronted up to the media after his miss, describing it as the lowest point of his career.

"I'm gutted for myself, the club, the fans and my family.

Simonsen had earlier looked like being the hero after saving two penalties in the shootout - © BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

"All the blame doesn't come down on my shoulders but you just feel like it's all your fault right now and I have to live with that.

"I've replayed it a million times in my head and I just can't bear to watch it at the moment."

"It's been horrendous. Obviously it's the lowest part of my career.”