Free-kick GOAT Isn’t David Beckham or Lionel Messi
Former Lyon ace Juninho Pernambucano has been named the best ever free-kick specialist, beating David Beckham and Lionel Messi to the top spot.
SPORTbible has used TierMaker to rank the best modern free-kick takers and, typically, the Brazilian hits top spot with ease.
The midfielder who retired in 2013 holds the world record for direct free-kick goals with 75.
His main rivals, ranked ‘World Class’, are David Beckham, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Andrea Pirlo and Lionel Messi who have all consistently performed free-kick heroics.
While controversial, it’s easy to label Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos ‘Overrated’. CR7 has scored some worldies, particularly for Man United and Portugal. But for years his conversation rate has been among the worst in Europe, while full-back Roberto Carlos scored that unbelievable free-kick against France but was often more harmful to walls and crowds than goal nets.
They’re joined by England golden generationers Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. Harsh?
Perhaps, but both only scored seven Premier League free-kicks each despite playing around 500 games apiece.
In the ‘Underrated’ category are Juan Mata and Seb Larsson (who’s scored the most Premier League free-kicks over the last 15 years with 11). They’re joined by Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho, so spectacular in other ways that their free-kick brilliance is sometimes overlooked.
Gareth Bale and Didier Drogba might be disappointed to only be in the ‘Good’ category, but both have scored spectacular free-kicks without the sheer volume of the very best.
Given an outright ‘Bad’ rating is Mario Balotelli who, much as we love him, has never been reliable when he plants the ball. Meanwhile Junior Stanislas has scored only one Premier League free-kick from plenty of attempts (in 2018/19 he took nine without scoring).
Unfortunately in the bottom category, we have Robert Huth. The big man has been a great DEFENDER, but his effort against Stoke might be the worst we’ve ever seen. It looks like he’s never kicked a ball before.
The full SPORTbible rankings are below.
GOAT: Juninho Pernambucano
World Class: David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Andrea Pirlo
Underrated: Juan Mata, Miralem Pjanic, Thierry Henry, Sebastian Larsson, Ronaldinho, Gianfranco Zola, Morten Gamst Pedersen
Good: Gareth Bale, Didier Drogba, James Maddison, Kevin De Bruyne, Christian Eriksen, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Alessandro Del Piero, David Alaba, James Ward-Prowse
Overrated: Cristiano Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard
Bad: Mario Balotelli, Josip Ilicic, Alvaro Recoba, Junior Stanislas, Memphis Depay
Not a Footballer: Robert Huth, Camillo Ciano
Note: As we’re only ranking modern-day curlers, the likes of Zico, Diego Maradona, Ronald Koeman and other world-class free-kick pioneers are absent.
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