It's October 25, 2014. Wigan are playing Derby in the English Championship and a fledgling James Tavernier has stepped up to take the first penalty of his career. He looks into the whites of the keeper's eyes, takes a breath and blasts the ball low towards the corner. 

It's struck with venom and yet an outstretched hand somehow gets there. The young right-back is crestfallen. The keeper, Jack Butland turns to the away fans and bellows in triumph.
Surprisingly, it's not a moment that the Rangers captain remembers clearly, perhaps a sign of the intense focus on the here and now that allows him to block out the perennial din that accompanies his captaincy. 

While his penalty start was far from dazzling, the consistency that has followed more than makes up for it. Tavernier has since scored 56 times from the spot across 70 attempts, an 82 per cent success rate that most footballers would snap your hand off for.

“I’ve heard that the first one I missed was saved by Jack," he admitted. “I only got told on Friday morning and I didn’t believe it at first! Did he save it? He said he might have. Colin Stewart mentioned it then I pulled Jack. He said: ‘I think I might have saved that’. I didn’t even know.

READ MORE: Rangers training 'animal' Jack Butland is on Ibrox leadership group

“I had to quickly check that I’ve never scored against Derby and realised I must have missed it. I didn’t take one for three years after that. When I first came up here, Martyn Waghorn and Kenny Miller were taking the pens before I decided to push myself to the front of the queue and get on them. I could have had a lot more by now!"

His first penalty in Light Blue was against Aberdeen in late 2017 and proved more successful than his battle with Butland. It was Tavernier's third season in Scotland, and with Waghorn gone and Miller diminished by father time, the slot was his to take. He's been the main man ever since. 

Part of his success is in his unusual run up and ball-striking technique that makes it difficult for goalkeepers to judge where the ball might end up.

“I stepped up in my third season at Rangers," he recalled. "I felt comfortable taking them but I didn’t have the technique I have now at the start. I’ve done a lot of practice since then with the keepers and I’ve created a style where it’s hard for the goalie to read what I was going to do or what direction I was going to go. 

"I always do the same run-up no matter where I’m going to put the ball. That’s my style now so it’s now about just continuing to practice and making sure I hit the spot.

“The penalty I missed at Hearts, I didn’t mean it to go across the floor. That’s the second time I’ve done that and it’s hit the same post. I’ve got to keep it in the air.

 “For myself, it’s a lot about technique. I’ve taken a lot of them now. You do get a little bit nervous but it’s generally down to technique.

“I’m always fixated on the ball. Some penalty takers look at the keeper but I’ve never really ventured into that scene.

“If your technique is spot on, you’re normally putting the ball where you want it to go. Even in the 90th minute with the second one against Hearts, I knew where I was going to put it so I felt comfortable."

While some may do vast amounts of homework, obsessing over a keeper's habits, Tavernier focuses on general truths.
The Englishman makes a decision days before arriving at a game and ensures he strikes with tangible power.

He said: “I can look into the backgrounds of the keepers, like where they’ve gone for previous penalties. I have that information. But as long as I know what spot I’m going for - and I’ll know the day or a couple of days before - I just need to execute it.

“I practice all the time with Colin and the other keepers. We know that a clean strike more or less beats the keeper. So I just keep practising that. If I get a clean strike with a lot of power behind it, the majority of them will go in.

READ MORE:  Inside Clement's Rangers: Cryo, small details and intense demands

“The keepers have a lot of info on us so it’s like a game of chess. You’re trying to out-guess each other on where to go. But as long as I get it in the place I want, it’ll be out of the goalie’s reach."

While the captain's record is excellent, there are always players at the club desperate to wrest the high-pressure, high-reward gig from his clutches. And yet, while Tavernier has had dips in form - he missed five in 2019 alone - nobody has been able to maintain his standards of consistency from the spot. That said, with new attacking blood arriving every year, there's always someone in wait.
He said: “You get lads coming in [and wanting to take penalties], usually strikers. But with a good record, I can put them to one side and keep them off my back. To continue to do that, I need to keep putting them away. If I didn’t score the second one against Hearts, I’d have lads asking questions.

“It’s always good to have that pressure. In a penalty shoot-out, you’ve got to have good takers. I always have to stay on my toes and know that someone is behind me waiting to be next in line on penalties. That’s why I have to put them in the back of the net."