Some legendary names lead the charts for hitting the back of the net directly from set-pieces.
The ability to score from a dead-ball situation is not everyone’s cup of tea. To have the mastery of the ball to such an extent where one can lift the ball above the wall, keeping it under the crossbar while hitting it with enough pace to beat the goalkeeper is easier said than done. Every successful team in football over the years has had at least one such player in their squad that possessed deadly free-kick abilities helping them score plenty of goals from long range.
In modern football, players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are hailed as one of the best free-kick takers. However, in terms of highest number of goals scored from direct free-kicks, these two legends of the game are not even in the top five.
This fact presents a brilliant opportunity to look back on the top five players who have scored the most number of goals from free-kicks.
Here are the top five all-time leading goal-scorers from direct free-kicks:
5. David Beckham – 65 goals
One of the most famous personalities in football, David Beckham garnered a lot of praise for his technique on the ball. His passing range and deadly curling crosses into the box became a trademark of his game-play. The midfielder was especially lethal when it came to free-kick situations and his iconic style of hitting the ball inspired scores of young football players to imitate his technique on their playgrounds.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid stalwart scored some of the most iconic goals from free-kicks and repeated his feats for England as well on the international stage. His ability on the ball also gave birth to a popular term, “Bend it like Beckham.”
4. Victor Legrotaglie – 66 goals
Not one of the household names in world football when it comes to famous players from Argentina. However, Victor Legrotaglie is hailed as one of the greats in his home country. The midfielder spent his entire career in Argentina before retiring in 1974.
He is hailed as one of the best footballers from Mendoza and is said to have inspired many players from the coming generations. Moreover, he also generated interest from clubs like Inter Milan and Real Madrid, but chose to remain stay in Argentina. Legrotaglie was particularly gifted when it came to set-piece situations. That is justified by 66 goals scored by him from free-kicks, the highest by any Argentine ever.
3. Ronaldinho – 66 goals
Tied at 66 goals from free-kicks with Legrotaglie is one of the most highly respected figures in football, Ronaldinho. The Brazilian is often referred to as the best football player to ever grace the football pitch and any person who has witnessed him play would find it hard to disagree. The retired Brazilian could do everything, dribble, pass, shoot and above all possessed a flair that was second to none.
Ronaldinho was unquestionably pretty decent when it came to free-kicks. One of his most famous free-kick goals came against England in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The play-maker plied his trade for football clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, FC Barcelona and AC Milan among others. There, he scored from all kinds of positions, particularly from direct free-kick situations.
2. Pele – 70 goals
Often regarded as the best footballer of all-time along with Diego Maradona, Pele was a master of the game. In his illustrious career, the forward achieved some mind-blowing feats that included scoring over 1000 goals and winning three World Cups with Brazil.
He was a lethal striker who had an unmatched instinct to be in scoring positions. One of the many qualities he possessed as a footballer was his prowess in dead-ball situations. Reportedly, he scored 70 times from direct free-kicks over the course of his football career, while his rival Maradona scored 62.
1. Juninho Pernambucano – 77 goals
Juninho is the undisputed king of free-kicks and is believed to be the one to invent the ‘knuckleball’ technique. The retired midfielder sent shivers down the spines of the opposing goalkeepers whenever he stepped up to take one. He scored a total of 77 goals from free-kick situations in his football career. A feat that remains unmatched till today.
The Brazilian play-maker played a vital part in Olympique Lyon’s domination of the French Ligue 1 before PSG came in with a lot of cash and took over the domestic football scene. Juninho helped the side win seven league titles and frequently contributed with sensational goals from set-pieces.