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5 greatest free-kick takers of all time

David Beckham (left) and Lionel Messi (right)
David Beckham (left) and Lionel Messi (right)

Conceding free-kicks in dangerous areas is something that coaches advise their players against doing. When the penalty area gets crowded, things can go south quite quickly. With so many bodies around, there is only room for chaos and confusion. Things get even tougher when the opposition has free-kick specialists.

At the highest level of the game, putting the ball in the back of the net from a free-kick is an extremely difficult skill. Goalkeepers are athletic enough to fling themselves to cover every corner of the goal. A good free-kick taker will use his incredible technique to outwith the goalkeeper.

They also need to possess the mental fortitude to test the keeper from range. Without further ado, let's take a look at five of the greatest free-kick takers of all time.


#5 Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho takes a free kick for Barcelona
Ronaldinho takes a free kick for Barcelona

We're not entirely sure if anybody else has derived as much joy from football as Ronaldinho has. Two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and World Cup winner Ronaldinho is one of the most celebrated footballers of the 21st century.

One of the most exciting attackers in the history of the game, he shared a relationship with the ball that's rarely matched. His tricks, flicks, and outstanding shooting range have astounded fans all across the world.

Like most things he did on a football pitch, Ronaldinho was excellent at free-kicks. He'd start his run up from almost a 90 degree angle from the ball and put just enough power into his shot to get it over the wall and into the back of the net.

He was also an extremely inventive footballer and has scored a fair share of free-kicks by shooting them underneath a jumping wall.

#4 Lionel Messi

Paris Saint-Germain v Kawasaki Frontale - Preseason Friendly
Paris Saint-Germain v Kawasaki Frontale - Preseason Friendly

For a player who did not start out as a free-kick specialist, Lionel Messi has been working wonders from dead ball situations. The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner is arguably the greatest footballer of all time. He has been in terrific form of late and has been phenomenal for club and country in the 2022-23 season.

Messi is inarguably the best free-kick taker in the world right now. He recently scored two free-kicks inside a week. The first came for Argentina against Jamaica (September 28) and the second came for Paris Saint-Germain in their 2-1 win over OGC Nice.

Messi injects plenty of power, pace and curve into his free-kicks. He will go down in history as one of the greatest free-kick takers of all time.

Most direct free-kicks scored in Europe's top five divisions since 2017/18:21 - Lionel Messi2019181716151413 - James Ward-Prowse121110987 - Aleksandar Kolarov, Maddison, Nabil Fekir, Max ArnoldHere they all are. ๐ŸŽฏ https://t.co/IkrWv9FVRG

#3 Zico

Zico takes a free-kick for Brazil
Zico takes a free-kick for Brazil

Zico is one of the players that revolutionized the art of taking free-kicks. The Brazilian legend showed the world how having a set-piece specialist in a team can so often prove to be the difference between two sides.

The attacking midfielder showcased unreal control from dead ball situations and would meticulously deposit the ball inside the net past the goalkeepers. What sets Zico apart is the fact that he used to take very short run-ups.

Zico would in fact limit his run-up to two or three steps. He wouldn't even run and instead would walk onto the ball in a nonchalant manner before producing extremely precise shots.

#2 David Beckham

David Beckham takes a trademark free-kick
David Beckham takes a trademark free-kick

David Beckham is an iconic figure in the world of football. In addition to his charming looks, Beckham was also an incredible footballer. He was a part of the iconic Manchester United side that dominated the Premier League in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Beckham possessed one of the most visually appealing free-kick techniques in the history of the sort. He would induce a wonderful amount of whip and pace on the ball and make scoring goals from free-kicks look easy.

He was quite consistent too. Beckham's glorious last-minute free-kick goal against Greece that secured World Cup qualification for England in 2001 speaks volumes of his ability and character.

If Beckham was lining up to take a free-kick from 20-30 yards out, there was every chance that the ball was going to end up in the back of the net.

๐ŸŽฏ Free-kick master โœ…๐Ÿฅณ Happy birthday, David Beckham! #UCL | #HBD https://t.co/clUcHi867s

#1 Juninho Pernambucano

Juninho Pernambucano takes a free-kick for Olympique Lyon
Juninho Pernambucano takes a free-kick for Olympique Lyon

Check any all-time free-kick takers' lists online, and Juninho is likely to be on top of most of them. He is inarguably the greatest and most dynamic free-kick taker of all time.

Juninho was always skilled at free-kicks and he consistently managed to figure out ways to find the back of the net no matter where he was taking them from. He mastered the craft of taking free-kicks and also developed the knuckleball technique in the latter years of his career.

Juninho has scored them from 20, 30 and 40 yards out and always gauged the ferocity with which needs to strike the ball to perfection. 44 of his 100 goals for Olympique Lyon came from free-kicks.

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Edited by Shambhu Ajith
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