According to the Number of Goals Scored, The 10 Greatest Free-Kick Takers of All Time



Lionel Messi lit up Saturday night in Catalunya with two sublime free-kicks that left world football awestruck. His goals in the game help Barcelona see off Celta Vigo and reclaim top spot in the La Liga.

Over the past two weeks, we've seen Messi add a couple to his tally, including a beautiful panenka style shot from the edge of the box and the two free-kicks he scored against Celta Vigo. He's now on 49 free-kick goals in his career. 

His rival Cristiano Ronaldo has stepped up from his trademark pre-free-kick stance to score 53 times giving the Juventus star an edge. Although in recent times, Ronaldo has been criticized for his lack of goals from a dead ball.  

Given how often we see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring free-kicks from all angles, it would be easy to assume they're the greatest of all time from set-pieces. 
However, when it comes to the number of goals scored from dead-ball situations, they're not even on the top 10 list. 

In fact, it will surprise you to know that a goalkeeper is ahead of them. The good news for Messi and Ronaldo is that all of the players above them on the list have retired, so they might fancy their chances.


10. Marcelinho Carioca
Marcelinho was born Marcelo Pereira Surcin is a Brazilian former footballer who played as an attacking midfielder. He was noted for his accuracy from free-kicks, earning him the nickname "Pé-de-Anjo" (Angel Foot).

His immaculate technique played a major part in his prowess from set-pieces. Capable of striking either from a distance or closer range, he could impart brute force or delicacy, putting swerve, dip, curve or whatever he wanted on the ball.

He scored 206 goals in 420 matches from 1994 to 2001, 59 of those goals are from set-pieces.


9. Rogerio Ceni
Rogério Ceni spent 25 years at São Paulo having arrived in 1990 at the age of 17. He finished his career with 1238 appearances for the club and a breathtaking 132 goals, 61 of those goals being free-kicks, 70 penalties and one coming from open play. This record makes him the highest-scoring goalkeeper in history, as well as the Brazilian with the most appearances for a single club, ahead of Pelé.


8. Ronald Koeman
Ronald made his debut for the senior team in September 1980 against NEC at the age of 17 years and 183 days, becoming Groningen’s third-youngest player. 
After making his debut, Koeman became the top-scoring defender in world football, and is Barcelona's second-highest goalscorer from free kicks, behind only Lionel Messi. However, Koeman stands ahead of the Argentine in the all-time freekick scorer, he scored a whopping 60 goals from free-kicks. Koeman was nicknamed the King of free-kicks throughout his playing career.


7. Zico
Zico would regularly send the Maracanã into a frenzy playing for Flamengo, where he scored 508 goals in 731 games over two stints with the Rio de Janeiro club. He also spent a few years with Udinese and finished out his career in Japan with Kashima Antlers.
He scored 62 freekicks, most people believe he is the most talented free-kick taker the world has ever seen.


6. Diego Maradona
Diego Armando Maradona is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. Maradona's vision, passing, ball control and dribbling skills were combined with his ability to score great goals from dead balls. The left-footed Argentine scored 62 free kicks to rank far above Lionel Messi who he claimed to have passed some words of advice to on how to score freekicks.


5. David Beckham
If there's one footballer synonymous with taking a free-kick, then David Beckham would be right at the top of many people's list. Beckham’s trade as a free-kick specialist got him immortalized. 

In his 20-year career as a professional footballer, he scored a whopping 65 goals from outside the box, which is more than half of all the goals he ever scored. He scored 29 for Manchester United, his boyhood club, 14 for Real Madrid, 12 for LA Galaxy, 7 for England national team with 2 more for Preston North End, where he spent a season on loan in his teenage years, and 1 lone goal for AC Milan.


4. Victor Legrottaglie
The Argentine midfielder spent his entire professional career in his homeland and would score prolifically from set-piece situations 66 times. He was reported to have attract interest from clubs such as Real Madrid and Inter Milan, though he chose to remain in Argentina until his retirement in 1974.


3. Ronaldinho
Equal is the most entertaining footballer of all-time, the former Barcelona superstar was rarely seen without a smile upon his face as he entertained football fans across the globe, performing outrageous tricks and flicks and possessing a unique skill set rarely seen before or since. Key to his repertoire was an ability from dead-ball situations, scoring 66 times from free-kicks whether it be dipping efforts from distance or rolled efforts under a jumping wall.


2. Pele
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, KBE, known as Pelé  (Brazilian Pele) is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. In 1999, he was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century award.
Pelé is the most successful domestic league goal-scorer in football history scoring 650 goals in 694 league matches, and in total 1281 goals in 1363 games, which included 70 free-kicks. This number makes him the second most deadly free-kick taker of all time.


1. Juninho Pernambucano
Former Lyon star Juninho Pernambucano has scored the most direct free-kicks of all time netting a whopping 77 goals. Numbers do not lie, Juninho remains the undisputed champion, the greatest freekick specialist of all time.



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