Top Ten Free-Kick Specialists in World Football

Currently there are a number of footballers who can lay claim to being dead-ball specialists and have the ability to knock free-kicks into the net with ease. The FA Premier League has played host to a number of free-kick specialists over the years, while the UEFA Champions League showcases players with exceptional ability from a dead-ball situation every week. Here is a look at some of the best free-kick specialists currently plying their trade in international football:

Aguero10: Sergio Aguero – Atletico Madrid and Argentina striker Aguero is the new kid on the block as far as free-kick taking is concerned. He burst his way into this list with his effort against Chelsea in this season’s Champions League. His 25 yard strike from the right hand side had plenty of pace on it and crept past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech at his near post, a feat that is not easily achieved and fans will not be watching out to see if Aguero can repeat this effort.

Nakamura9: Shunsuke Nakamura – The left-footed Japanese international showcased his free-kick talent to British football fans playing for Celtic. He set the Scottish Premier League alight with some accurate set-pieces and caught the eye when he slotted home a stunning effort at Old Trafford against Manchester United in the 2006 UEFA Champions League. Nakamura repeated the feat in the return match at Celtic Park and confirmed his place among the elite of free-kick takers.

david_villa8: David Villa – The Spain and Valencia striker is renowned for his excellent goal scoring ability from open play, and many people may forget how deadly he is from set-pieces. Villa strikes the ball as cleanly as anyone and regularly finds the back of the net from dead-ball situations. One of his most memorable free-kicks was against Inter Milan in 2007 and after the game the Internazionale defenders said that David Villa “made us all look like idiots, all on his own.”

Del Piero7: Alessandro Del Piero – The Italian striker’s free-kick taking has been highly regarded for a number of years now and even has his own place on the pitch called the Del Piero Zone from which he is lethal. The fact that Del Piero has consistently hit the back of the net from free-kicks for a number of years with Juventus in the Serie A shows that he has incredible ability from dead-ball situations, and his curling and dipping efforts are extremely hard to stop.

Sneijder6: Wesley Sneijder – Attacking midfielder Sneijder is making a habit of scoring free-kicks and the Dutch international is among the best. He has regularly slotted home free-kicks for Ajax, Real Madrid and now Inter Milan and his dead-ball ability has been recognised in his homeland. Dutch magazine Voetbal International conducted a poll to decide who the best Dutch free-kick taker was and Sneijder received an overwhelming 70% of the votes.

Ronaldinho5: Ronaldinho – The Brazilian international will be remembered by England fans for his 35 yard effort for Brazil that embarrassed David Seaman and sent England home from the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan. If he was a touch fortunate with that effort, there is no doubting his strike for AC Milan against Portsmouth last year. Ronaldinho powered an free-kick past David James from well outside the box and the Brazilian deserves his place in this list.

Pirlo4: Andrea Pirlo – Italian international Pirlo is widely regarded in Europe as a free-kick specialist and is always a danger when he stands over the ball. Since joining AC Milan in 2001, he has been their first choice set-piece taker and is challenging the all-time Milan free-kick record. His technical ability is almost unmatched and his free-kick technique uses the last three toes on his right foot, which seems to have done the trick for him since he started using it in 2005.

Cristiano Ronaldo3: Cristiano Ronaldo – Ronaldo has revolutionised free-kick taking to some extent in recent years through his strikes than have amazing dip on them. The Portugal international strikes the ball with such power than if his efforts are on target they are almost impossible to save. This was the case in a Premiership match for Manchester United against Portsmouth, and Real Madrid fans will be hoping to see a few free-kick goals from him at the Bernabeu this season.

Juninho2: Juninho – Not only is Brazilian Juninho one of the greatest free-kick takers currently in the game, but there is also an argument that he is one of the best dead-ball specialists of all time. He is undoubtedly one of the most fear strikers of a dead-ball, and during his career in France for Lyon he scored an unbelievable 44 goals direct from free-kicks. His knuckle ball technique puts little spinning motion on the ball and can swerve unpredictably, helping him score 3 efforts from over 40 yards.

David Beckham1: David Beckham – England star Beckham took free-kick taking to another level at the turn of the century, finding the net with free-kicks regularly for Manchester United, Real Madrid and of course England. He is only the 5th player to score direct from a free kick twice in World Cup history, finding the net against Columbia and Ecuador. But he is most famously remembered for his stunning effort under pressure for England against Greece in 2001, what a strike!

So David Beckham tops the list of free-kick specialists in world football and has long been the king of free-kicks but many other players have a genuine claim to his crown. Are there any other footballers who have a right to be in the top ten, and how do the current generation compare with the great free-kick takers of all-time such as Zico, Platini and Roberto Carlos?

Article title: Top Ten Free-Kick Specialists in World Football

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