Greatest Free-Kick Takers of All Time

Scoring from a free kick takes plenty of skill and can be something special to watch - so we have picked out six of the best set-piece specialists that have ever lived.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo

Football is known as the beautiful game for umpteen reasons but not many skills catch the eye more than a well-taken free-kick. Whether it is a curling effort into the top corner or a belter from 40 yards, bagging a set-piece goal can be one of the most satisfying ways to get on the scoresheet. 

There have been many masters of the art over the years so we’ve tried to pick six of the best, but plenty have been left on the cutting-room floor.

Rogerio Ceni

Who? Some of you might say, but Ceni fully deserves the first mention in this list. Not only did he score an astonishing 131 goals during his career but his efforts are made all the more remarkable by the fact that he was a goalkeeper!

His tally includes 61 free-kicks and 70 penalties scored during his time at Sao Paulo where he stood between the sticks from 1990 until 2015.

Ceni hit the goalscoring heights in 2004-05 when he was Sao Paulo’s leading scorer that season with 21 goals and was comfortable picking out the top corner or thrashing them home from distance.

Despite playing 17 times for Brazil he never got a look in at set-pieces where virtually every player in the squad fancied their chances from a dead-ball situation.

David Beckham

Beckham gets his place in this list almost solely for his legendary last-gasp free-kick which secured England a 2-2 draw with Greece at Old Trafford in 2001 to take the Three Lions to the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan.

With a playoff with Ukraine looming large, England needed at least a draw with the Greeks to secure automatic passage to the finals and Becks duly delivered the draw they needed with his wonder strike from 25 yards in the 93rd minute.

Although a deadly crosser of the ball, Beckham was renowned for his free-kicks and bagged 43 during his career spent mostly at Manchester United and Real Madrid.

That puts him currently at sixth in the all-time list just behind a fella called Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Yes, this version of Ronaldo, who also plied his trade mainly at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid and United’s Old Trafford.

It’s said Ronny has bagged 55 free-kicks in his career, which includes over 180 caps for Portugal.

His free-kick style is varied but his knuckleball-type effort proved a particularly dangerous weapon from around the 30-yard mark, as highlighted against Portsmouth in the 2007-08 Premier League season.

“It was the best free-kick I’ve ever seen,” said Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager at the time.


Maybe not a player you automatically think about when it comes to free-kicks but the Brazilian superstar netted his fair share during a 17-year career between 1998 and 2015.

Ronaldinho is said to have scored 55 goals from free-kicks in his time at Santos, Barcelona and Milan, to name just a few of his clubs.

Famous for his flicks, tricks and mazey dribbles, Ronaldinho could also send the ball into the net with power, pace, curve and dip, while rolling the ball under a jumping defensive wall also became one of his party-pieces.

Juninho Pernambucano

Not to be mistaken with the Middlesbrough version, this Juninho holds the record as the scorer of the most free-kicks in history.

Weighing in at a whopping 74, the Brazilian is way out in front when it comes to successful free-kicks, 15 clear of compatriot Rogerio Ceni.

Juninho spent eight years at Lyon in France, where he bagged 100 goals from midfield, 44 of which were free-kicks.

Said to be the pioneer of the knuckleball technique, Juninho’s speciality was to ping them in from distance with free-kicks regularly flying in from 20 to 40 yards.

Sinisa Mihajlovic

The controversial former Yugoslavia and Serbia defender Mihajlovic gets the nod not just for his fine goalscoring record but the sheer beauty of some of his free-kicks.

A technically-gifted yet no-nonsense defender, Mihajlovic had a wand of a left foot and he used it to great advantage during his career which was spent mainly in Serie A with Lazio and Sampdoria.

He may not have been the most prolific but his variation deserves mention as the Serbian could curl beautifully-floated efforts into the top corner as easily as he could thrash a barn-burner from 40 yards out.

The versatility is what makes him stand out while scoring a hat-trick of free-kicks for Lazio against former club Samp remains one of his career highlights.

Rob has around 20 years journalism experience and has written and commentated on the likes of football, cricket and rugby. He also has an impressive background in racquet sports and regularly provides content on the likes of tennis and badminton.
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