Top 7 Free Kick Specialists of All time
The history of soccer is replete with scenarios were players have used dead ball situations to turn games around for their teams. Nakamura’s 30-yard masterpiece to hand Celtic a 1-0 win over Manchester United, Austin Okocha’s curler against Cameroun to draw Nigeria level in an African Nations cup match and C. Ronaldo’s dipping and swerving shot (often called tomahawks) against Bosnia Herzegovina provide a glimpse of the spectacular. Some players have left lasting legacies through the frequency and importance of their free kicks, proving that taking free kicks is indeed an art. This article picks the top 7 free kick takers of all time based on the frequency of success and importance of their freekicks.
7. Roberto Carlos
With little consistency, Roberto Carlos generated bullet like speed with his free kicks. Frank Lebouef’s account of the conversation that ensued between Fabian Barthez and Marcel Desailly at half time provides an insight to how incredible Carlos free kicks were.
Desailly- Barthez, why didn’t you set the wall properly?
Barthez- Guy, I did! You need to watch the replay of the goal. I have never seen anything like this before.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
CR7 as he is fondly called by soccer fans is one of the spectacular free kick takers of all time. Even with a considerably low success rate, Ronaldo’s successful free-kicks tally is approaching 50. His unique way of striking the ball leaves soccer pundits talking about his free-kicks several weeks and months after his execution. His goal against Athletico Madrid in the 2011-2012 La Liga season is a perfect case in point.
5. Alessandro Del Piero
Ageless Del Piero one of the most talented players of our generation, He thrilled the soccer world with his sublime free kicks and hit the back of the net over 40 times from dead ball situations.
I’ll be honest and say that before I started looking into this article, I didn’t know much about Zico’s free kick prowess. However after watching his technique I now understand why Zico is considered by many to be the original free kick specialist. His control and placement is a delight to watch. One thing that really stands out for me is that he strikes the ball from almost a standing start, relying on his aforementioned control rather than power. A true free kick great!
3. David Beckham
David Beckham is the most famous sportsman in the world. As of 30th November 2008, Beckham had soccer 43 free kicks during his professional career at Preston North End, Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and England.
Beckham is very consistent with his free kicks, especially when his team needs it the most. His goals against Leicester and England against Greece to secure qualification for the 2002 World Cup are testimonies of this. His trademark is his brilliant free kicks which have been immortalised by the phrase “Bend it like Beckham”.
2. Sinisa Mihaljlovic
In a career filled with racial and spitting controversies, Sinisa Mihaljlovic brilliant free kicks is one of the positives people like to remember him for. Mihaljlovic ability to score from the dead ball situation was feared throughout Serie A. He scored a stunning 27 free kicks during his fourteen years career in Serie A including a hat trick of free kicks for Lazio against Sampdoria in 1998, a feat another professional player is yet to equal.
- Juninho Pernambucano
Juninho is by far the master of free kicks. The fans in my favorite sports bar always yelled at the players on the defensive wall to face their keeper whenever Juninho stepped up to take a free kick. According to them, it is so certain that Juninho will score that they did be better off watching the ball as it goes in than labor in vain trying to stop it. He has scored free kicks from virtually all positions on the pitch, which has seen him score over 40 free kicks for Lyon with an unconfirmed conversion rate of 50 per cent. Soccer pundits have likened his technique to that of Cristiano Ronaldo, a unique style that sees the ball travel in predictable fashion.