In the game of football, there are levels to the goals scored by players; the hype given to every goal scored depends on the match, the stadium, the competition, the player, and the type of goal. Players can score from the penalty spot, outside the box shot during open play, header, and then there is the bicycle kick.
Scoring direct free-kick goals is one of a football player’s most incredible goal-scoring abilities; making free-kick goals look simple requires skills, composure, and top-level finesse. There are different techniques to scoring free-kicks, but above all, the player needs to be skillful enough to get the ball past the wall and beat the goalkeeper, especially when the free kick is close to box 18.
For free kicks from long range, the player needs to add pace in addition to the other requirements mentioned above. Do you remember that free-kick by Alex of Chelsea against Arsenal? The beauty of free-kick goals is that it’s not for attackers alone; defenders and keepers can take free kicks too. The beautiful football game has produced excellent free-kick scorers, and you would be surprised that your favorite players may not be in the top 7.
Cristiano Ronaldo tops the table regarding all-time goals; however, his archrival, Lionel Messi, has more free-kick goals than him, even while playing less. Both players are incredible and have shattered and set different records, but are they the best free-kick scorers? Definitely not!!
Here is a list of top free-kick scorers in football history;
Top free-kick scorers in football history
|Player||Nationality||Number of free kick goals|
|Juninho Pernambucano – 77||Brazil||77|
|Rogerio Ceni –||Brazil||61|
There are levels to scoring free-kicks, and with some players, there is 90% guarantee that they will find the back of the night. Below is a list;
Juninho Pernambucano (77)
At the top of the list is Juninho, the inventor of “knuckle balling”, he scored 77 free-kick goals during his career; the most incredible thing about this tally is not the number but how he scored from those spots. Most players score free kicks by using spin and ensuring the ball curves to beat the wall and keeper.
Juninho’s technique is different; the Marseille legend would kick the ball as hard as possible so it won’t produce any spin. The outcome of this technique is that the ball will move with unsteady motion in the air while catching the keepers unaware because they could not predict the ball’s movement.
Several players have tried this technique but did not get it because of its difficulty. With a tally of 77, active players such as Messi can still meet up if he improves his free-kick ability.
Establishing himself as one of football’s greatest, Pele was a beast at taking free kicks and had a good number of his goals from taking them. The Brazilian king of football was a prolific scorer. Pele scored 765 goals throughout his career, and 70 out of them were from taking free kicks. The Brazilian legend Pele, scored with both feet and was a nightmare for goalkeepers and defenders. His free-kick technique depended solely on power and pace, features common with most of his goals.
Victor Legrotaglie (66)
Many current football fans may not know Victor, but he is one of the most prolific free-kick scorers in football history. Victor has more free-kick goals than his countrymen, Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona. He spent his entire football career in the local Argentine league despite getting top offers from clubs like Juventus.
The 85-year-old Argentine had a two decades incredible career, especially in gymnastics and fencing.
What comes to your mind when the name pops up? Skills, dribbles, speed, and confidence. The Brazilian legend was a delight to behold during his footballing career. He was a beast in every department and a nightmare to his opponents. The Barcelona Legend and the 2002 World Cup winner has one of the highest free-kick goal tallies in the UEFA Champions League.
Ronaldinho’s free kicks combine spin, skills, and pace. He scored 66 goals from the free kick, and one of his famous free kicks was in a world cup match, that particular one he scored past David Seaman, you remember? The former AC Milan player ignored the wall catching the keeper unaware.
David Beckham (65)
As the football world fashionista pulled the crowd with his fashion sense off the football pitch, David was a nightmare for goalkeepers, especially when it comes to free kicks. England and Manchester United legend was not known for many goals, skills, or pace, but he was a free-kick specialist.
His free kicks were more of bending the ball past the wall and sometimes pace. The 47 years foot make a right angle to the ball’s trajectory, making it easier to curl the ball. Beckham has scored several screamers through free kicks and is the highest free-kick scorer in premier league history.
Diego Maradona (62)
What a player!! Diego Maradona is definitely more than the “hand of God” world cup final goal that highlights his career; he is one of the greatest players ever to play the game and is regarded as the Godfather of free-kicks. Just like his countryman, Lionel Messi, getting the ball off Diego’s feet while he is on the run seems nearly impossible.
His speed, agility, and accuracy made him exceptional. It does not matter what the distance is; the Napoli legend’s ability to curl the ball over the wall made it easy for him to score from any range. The late Argentina legend and 1986 FIFA world cup winner was a dead ball specialist.
During his playing days, the Brazilian was a skillful beast. Isn’t that typical of Brazilian attackers? The Flamengo legend scored more than 500 goals for Brazil and his club, including 62 incredible free-kick goals. In 1979, Zico dropped a stellar performance for club and country by finding the net 56 times, 50% of his team goals that year.
Zico was a dead ball specialist, and his ability to bend the ball over any wall makes it easy for him to score free kicks from any range or angle.
Rogerio Ceni (61)
Wow!! Goalkeepers are not characterized by goal scoring, but Rogerio took that personally and mastered the art of free-kick scoring. He has had 131 goals throughout his career, and that tally is almost double that of the keeper with the second-highest goals ; many attackers and midfielders dont even have these much.
Ceni’s free-kicks always have the pace and the necessary swive to get past the wall and straight into the net. The Brazilian legend scored ones from open play, while most of his goals were free kicks and penalties.
Ronald Koeman (60)
Former Barcelona player and coach Koeman was one of football’s highest-scoring defenders. He has more than 250 career goals, a tally most strikers dont have, and he is the most prolific defender in football history. Koeman was a specialist, free-kick Marchant, scoring 60 from the spot during his incredible career.
Koeman’s partnership with Pep Guardiola in the 90s was essential in Barcelona’s dream team success. The Dutchman makes defending look easier while scoring goals and challenging attackers.
Lionel Messi (60)
The little boy from the street of Rosario, Argentina, the little magician has established himself as one of if not the greatest footballers ever. He has scored 58 goals from direct free kicks for Argentina, Barcelona, and PSG. The 7 times Balon D’or winner’s free-kick scoring ability is one of the most incredible, he has scored from the spot twice in a match and has scored free kicks in 3 consecutive matches before.
He scored almost half of his free kicks in the last five seasons. Messi’s popular free kick technique involves a ‘strain ankle,’ which makes it easy for him to hit the ball, put more spin, and curl enough to beat the wall and the goalkeeper. In early 2022, Messi got his 650th Barcelona goal through an incredible free kick, which was his 49th free-kick goal for the Spanish giant.
Lionel Messi has scored 10 more free-kick goals in the last five seasons than any active player in Europe’s top 5 leagues.
Marcelinho Carioca (59)
The former Brazil National Team attacking midfielder is one of the most prolific footballers to score more than 50 free kicks. Canoca played more than 300 matches in five different clubs in the Brazilian league; he made some appearances for Brazil’s national team but never participated in a tournament for the nation.
Because of his excellent free-kick scoring ability, his teammates nicknamed him “Pe de anjo” which means ANGEL FOOT. He scored several incredible free kicks during his career, but the most remarkable one sealed Corinthian’s state title in 1995.
Cristiano Ronaldo – (57)
CR7 is another active player on the list; the Portuguese is widely regarded as one of the best players ever to grace the field. He has scored a load of goals and has the highest goal in football history. He is also a dead-ball specialist, scoring 57; however, his ability to score free kicks has dwindled lately, but CR7 remains one of the best.
The Real Madrid and Manchester United Legend score most of his free kicks from far out rather than close to the box.
Also Read: What is a clean sheet in football?
Top 5 free-kick scorers in Premier League history
The English Premier League is one of the most popular leagues in the world; the league has produced exceptional footballers such as Eden Hazard, Luca Modric, David Beckham and so on. There are incredible free-kick takers in the league, but who does it better?
David Beckham- 18
He is among the best free-kick scorers in the world and has scored the most free kicks in the English Premier League, even though he left the league more than 10 years now. David scored 18 PL free kicks, which was possible because his technique involves bending the ball into the top corner of the net.
David Beckham does not sprint nor give long-range passes, but his ability to get the ball past the wall and straight into the net from any freekick angle made him one of the most iconic players in the Premier League.
James Ward-Prowse – 16
James is one of the active EPL players challenging Beckham’s record. James graduated from Southampton academy and made his senior debut in 2011. Since then, he has scored 16 free kicks and is just two goals away from breaking Beckham’s record. He is still playing in the PL and has every opportunity to break David’s record and set another.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 12
Having set and shattered several records in the EPL, CR7 will have to sit the free kick record out. He has scored 12 free kicks despite playing enough to score more. His most iconic PL free kick was that long-range one against a motionless Portsmouth David James.
Thierry Henry – 12
Arguably one of the best players to play in the Premier League, he was an integral part of Arsenal’s Invincible, winning season. Henry brought the “va va voom” to Arsenal from Juventus in 1999 and is a member of the Premier League Hall Of Fame. He arrived in London as a world cup winner and scored more than loads of goals for the Gunners, including 12 incredible free kicks.
A Chelsea legend, a player most Chelsea fans regard as the best to have represented the Blues. He got to Chelsea in 1996 and is the best free-kick taker in the club’s history.
Taking free kicks requires the most skill, technique, and precision of all set pieces in football. Scoring a free-kick goal is exceptional for any player, especially if the goal leads to winning a match or cup. If you want to see all odds and bet on football, make sure to check out our online platform!