Which are some of the most beautiful sights in football? A player dribbling past a tight defence? A 'panenka' style penalty kick? A delicately chipped goal? A sumptous free kick bulging the opposition net?
Football fans know that scoring directly from free kicks is an art in itself. There have been some illustrious masters of this art in the not too distant past. Juninho, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho and David Beckham among a few others were all considered set-piece specialists.
Five active players with the most free-kick goals
Having someone with free-kick-scoring prowess in a team is always a significant advantage as one neatly executed effort into the back of the net can alter the course of a match.
From the current crop of players as well, these are a few who've scored free-kick goals aplenty during their careers. Let's have a look at five of them with the most free-kick goals than anybody else.
#5 Aleksandar Kolarov - 22 goals
Aleksandar Kolarov is one of the most prolific goal-scoring full-backs of modern times. The 34-year-old has scored about 35% of his career goals from free kicks, which is an impressive tally, especially for a defender.
The former Manchester City and AS Roma star is often called the Serbian Roberto Carlos because of his set-piece prowess, and his stats in this regard clearly have a few parallels with that of the Brazilian legend.
What makes him absolutely deadly from set-pieces is his ability to score free kicks from the least favourable angles and distances.
His stunner for Serbia against Costa Rica at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and for AS Roma in a pre-season game against Athletic Bilbao last year are but a few examples of his set-piece prowess.
#4 Hakan Calhanoglu - 26 goals
If you're someone who follows the Bundesliga keenly, then you may know about Hakan Calhanoglu's imperious ability from set-pieces, especially direct free kicks. Whenever he lines up to take one, the ball invariably bulges the opposition net. That's how proficient the Turkish international is from dead-ball situations.
Here's a mind-blowing stat to buttress this claim: 38% of his goals in German club football (he also played in the second tier with Karlsruher SC) have come from direct free kicks!
Also, who can forget his exploits in the 2014-15 season when he struck as many as nine free-kick goals for Bayer Leverkusen! Yes, nine in one season - let that sink in!
Unfortunately, Calhanoglu's set-piece prowess has declined precipitously after moving to AC Milan in 2017; he has since netted only three goals from direct free kicks.