Top Free Kick Takers of All-Time

Discussion in 'Players & Legends' started by Lucas..., Jan 9, 2013.

  1. fujiyama

    fujiyama New Member

    May 8, 2015
    FC Tokyo
    Shunsuke Nakamura / 50 freekick goals
    No. / Date / Match / Competition
    -1 / 03-05-1997 / Yokohama Marinos vs Bellmare Hiratsuka / J.League Div.1
    -2 / 19-09-1998 / Yokohama Marinos vs Cerezo Osaka / J.League Div.1
    -3 / 26-09-1998 / Yokohama Marinos vs Avispa Fukuoka / J.League Div.1
    -4 / 14-11-1998 / Yokohama Marinos vs Bellmare Hiratsuka / J.League Div.1
    -5 / 24-04-1999 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Kashima Antlers / J.League Div.1
    -6 / 11-06-2000 / Japan vs Slovakia / Kirin Cup
    -7 / 16-08-2000 / Japan vs United Arab Emirates / Kirin Cup
    -8 / 11-11-2000 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs JEF United Ichihara / J.League Div.1
    -9 / 17-11-2001 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Gamba Osaka / J.League Div.1
    10 / 03-09-2002 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Nagoya Grampus Eight / J.League Div.1
    11 / 13-04-2002 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Sanfrecce Hiroshima / J.League Div.1
    12 / 02-05-2002 / Japan vs Honduras / Kirin Cup
    13 / 05-10-2002 / Reggina vs Brescia / Serie A
    14 / 03-05-2003 / Reggina vs Roma / Serie A
    15 / 20-06-2003 / Japan vs France / Confederations Cup
    16 / 21-09-2003 / Reggina vs Brescia / Serie A
    17 / 09-06-2004 / Japan vs India / World Cup Qualifying
    18 / 24-07-2004 / Japan vs Thailand / AFC Asian Cup
    19 / 27-02-2005 / Reggina vs ChievoVerona / Serie A
    20 / 26-10-2005 / Celtic vs Motherwell / Scottish Premier League
    21 / 14-01-2006 / Celtic vs Kilmarnock / Scottish Premier League
    22 / 09-04-2006 / Celtic vs Kilmarnock / Scottish Premier League
    23 / 29-07-2006 / Celtic vs Kilmarnock / Scottish Premier League
    24 / 13-09-2006 / Celtic vs Manchester United / UEFA Champions League
    25 / 29-10-2006 / Celtic vs Kilmarnock / Scottish Premier League
    26 / 21-11-2006 / Celtic vs Manchester United / UEFA Champions League
    27 / 17-02-2007 / Celtic vs Aberdeen / Scottish Premier League
    28 / 31-03-2007 / Celtic vs Dundee United / Scottish Premier League
    29 / 22-04-2007 / Celtic vs Kilmarnock / Scottish Premier League
    30 / 11-08-2007 / Celtic vs Falkirk / Scottish Premier League
    31 / 24-02-2008 / Celtic vs St. Mirren / Scottish Premier League
    32 / 31-08-2008 / Celtic vs Glasgow Rangers / Scottish Premier League
    33 / 06-09-2008 / Japan vs Bahrain / World Cup Qualifying
    34 / 29-10-2008 / Celtic vs Kilmarnock / Scottish League Cup
    35 / 28-02-2009 / Celtic vs St. Mirren / Scottish Premier League
    36 / 28-03-2009 / Japan vs Bahrain / World Cup Qualifying
    37 / 18-11-2009 / Japan vs Hong Kong / AFC Asian Cup Qualifying
    38 / 14-08-2010 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Shimizu S-Pulse / J.League Div.1
    39 / 09-10-2010 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Sagan Tosu / Emperor's Cup
    40 / 16-11-2011 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Tochigi FC / Emperor's Cup
    41 / 19-11-2011 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Nagoya Grampus / J.League Div.1
    42 / 10-10-2012 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Yokohama FC / Emperor's Cup [*]
    43 / 10-10-2012 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Yokohama FC / Emperor's Cup [*]
    44 / 27-10-2012 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Nagoya Grampus / J.League Div.1
    45 / 01-12-2012 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Sagan Tosu / J.League Div.1
    46 / 02-03-2013 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Shonan Bellmare / J.League Div.1
    47 / 30-03-2013 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs FC Tokyo / J.League Div.1
    48 / 27-04-2013 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Ventforet Kofu / J.League Div.1
    49 / 23-06-2013 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Kashima Antlers / J.League Cup
    50 / 27-10-2013 / Yokohama F.Marinos vs Oita Trinita / J.League Div.1
    -- / 22-10-1996 / Under-19 Japan vs Under-19 Qatar / AFC Under-19 Championship
    -- / 20-06-1997 / Under-20 Japan vs Under-20 Costa Rica / World Youth Championship
    -- / 12-06-1999 / Under-23 Japan vs Under-23 Philippines / Olympic Qualifying
    -- / 18-06-1999 / Under-23 Japan vs Under-23 Hong Kong / Olympic Qualifying
    -- / 06-11-1999 / Under-23 Japan vs Under-23 Kazakhstan / Olympic Qualifying
    -- / 03-09-2000 / Under-23 Japan vs Under-23 Kuwait / Friendly
    -- / 14-08-2002 / Reggina vs Dynamo Zagreb / Friendly
    [*] 2 freekick goals in a single match
    Lucas... and Ozora repped this.
  2. Ozora

    Ozora Member+

    Aug 5, 2014
    Chelsea LFC
    Yeah. Nakamura is a good call
  3. lucasammr

    lucasammr New Member

    Feb 15, 2016
    FC Barcelona
    Hey, Lucas, how are you?

    Noticed you havent posted anything new here since 2014.

    I've also been trying to catalogue all FK goals players like Zico, Marcelinho, Rivaldo and Koeman have scored during their career, and am willing to help you out with anything.

    I'm brazilian and would even go after "almanaques" to check Zico's and Marcelinho's actual figures.

    Keep us posted!
  4. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Leeds United AFC
    In The Times today, Rory Smith lists his top ten dead-ball specialists of all time.

    1 Juninho
    2 Mihajlovic
    3 Pirlo
    4 Beckham
    5 Zico
    6 Platini
    7 Ronald Koeman
    8 Ceni
    9 Cristiano Ronaldo
    10 Del Piero

    The article quotes Bobby Charlton's claim that the Yugoslav Borivoje Kostic was the first to bend free kicks round a wall. Didi is credited with pioneering the dipping free kick.
    comme repped this.
  5. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    I found it a slightly confusing piece (essentially a companion to an article about Payet). That was the headline but the structure seemed to be about specific free-kicks by those players.
  6. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Leeds United AFC
    The photo-diagrams of one free kick from each were probably designed to draw attention to the page.

    There were a few other interesting snippets. Pirlo also rates Juninho the best and copied his technique. Del Piero would have ranked higher in the author's list had he not been overshadowed in Serie A first by Mihajlovic and then by Pirlo, which suggests that Smith is looking closely at reputation. Del Piero's technique is likened to Platini's.

    Beckham is shown with most EPL direct free-kick goals (15), followed by Henry (12), Zola (12), Sebastian Larsson (11), Laurent Robert (11) and Cristiano Ronaldo (11).
  7. gmonn

    gmonn Member+

    Dec 8, 2005
    Is this list at all backed up by stats, or did he just make it up?
  8. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    What are the facts and numbers they give for each player? How many has Ceni? Koeman?
  9. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Leeds United AFC

    It is presented as the author's choice. There are a few stats given.

    Juninho - 76 career free-kick goals.
    Mihajlovic - 28 Serie A goals, a league record equalled last year by Pirlo.
    Beckham - Record 15 goals in EPL. (Earlier in this thread @lucas quotes @ENB Sports crediting Beckham with 19 goals.)
    Ceni - Most prolific goalkeeper. 131 goals, all free-kicks or penalties, in over 1200 matches.
    C Ronaldo - At one point last year, had scored twice from previous 88 attempts.
    Del Piero - 22 Serie A free-kick goals.

    A quick unscientific browse of the internet produced three further "qualitative" lists by Bleacher Report, and Six free-kick specialists feature in all four top tens: Juninho, Mihajlovic, Beckham, Zico, Platini and Del Piero. In all four lists Juninho and Mihajlovic are ranked first and second respectively. Others to feature in one or more of the three top tens outside The Times list are Maradona, Hagi, Baggio, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Chilavert and van Hooijdunk. None of the lists includes anybody whose peak occurred more than forty years ago. So no Kostic, Didi or Rivelino etc.

    Stats above. Ceni's total includes penalties. No numbers given for Koeman but his ability to deliver under pressure was noted.
  10. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Leeds United AFC
    Bleacher Report and produced lists of 16 and 20 respectively. Others who appeared outside their Top 10 and in none of the other lists were Arango, Assunҫão, Halan Ҫalhanoğla, Carioca, Messi, Nakamura, Riquelme and Zola.
  11. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Apparently Koeman has 25 in competitive matches for Barcelona. That's a respectable number in six seasons (on average 44 official games a season; 4.17 free kick goals a season), with also e.g. Stoichkov taking free kicks and regularly delivering it into the penalty box (tall team mates, good headers).

    Ceni: 65 are penalties so that would make 66 free kick goals (including unofficial matches).
  12. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Leeds United AFC
    Looking through all the fine work on this thread, and incorporating a little information from elsewhere, it appears that 15 men have scored fifty or more goals from direct free-kicks in official matches.

    Zico 80 (May have a few more)

    Marcelinho Carioca 80 (May have one or two more)

    Juninho Pernambucano 79

    Didi 70+ (Rough estimate. In 68 international matches 12 of his 20 goals were free-kicks, a very high proportion. Must have scored at least 70 free-kicks in all official games, probably more.)

    Pelé 70+ (Another rough estimate. 7 of his 77 goals for Brazil were free-kicks. Same ratio gives around 70 free-kick goals in all official matches and 110+ including unofficial. He may have managed a slightly higher ratio in domestic football, not having to give way to the likes of Didi, Garrincha and Rivelino.)

    Ronaldinho 70+

    Assunҫão 64 (May have more. Unsubstantiated claim of 130 in all games)

    Maradona 62 (plus around 15 unofficial)

    Frantzeskos 57+ (32 recorded plus estimated 25-40 unrecorded)

    Ceni 56 (plus 10 unofficial)

    Beckham 54

    Mihajlović 50+

    Platini 50+

    Del Piero 50 (49 recorded by @lucas Gomez here in 2013, plus 1 for Delhi Dynamos v Chennaiyan FC on 9 December 2014 – source Wikipedia)

    Nakamura 50 (plus 7 unofficial)

    Eight of the fifteen leading scorers are Brazilians with one each from Argentina, Italy, France, England, Greece, former Yugoslavia and Japan.

    Cristiano Ronaldo currently has 43 free-kick goals but his success rate is tailing off. Pirlo’s total is in the thirties and Messi’s still in the twenties.

    A qualitative order of merit would obviously be subjective. One has to consider conversion rates (where available), technique, angles and distances, record under pressure, spectacular quality, etc. However, there does appear to be some consensus that Juninho was the best, followed by Mihajlović.

    Didi’s international record and pioneering of the dipping free-kick might see him in the top five. Along perhaps with two from Zico, Platini, Del Piero, and the other notable pioneer Kostić.

    No doubt others will have their own favourites.
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  13. Pipiolo

    Pipiolo Member+

    Jul 19, 2008
    Nat'l Team:
    C Ronaldo
  14. Puskas 1988

    Puskas 1988 Member

    Dec 9, 2014
    Juventus FC
    Del Piero should be top 10. His free kick technique was amazing, and his ability to curve the ball and find the top corner of the goal breathtaking. Possibly the best I've ever seen live. Yes, in this specific category he's better than Pirlo and even Ronaldinho I think. C. Ronaldo is a very good / great free kick taker but his free kick technique is a whole level behind Del Piero.
    Pipiolo repped this.
  15. Pipiolo

    Pipiolo Member+

    Jul 19, 2008
    Nat'l Team:
    Removing C Ronaldo, adding Baggio.

  16. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Leeds United AFC
    #166 peterhrt, Apr 14, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
    Thanks for this. These numbers suggest that Koeman would also have scored at least 50 goals from direct free-kicks for all teams in official matches.

    He scored 88 goals for Barcelona, of which 43 were penalties (49%), 25 direct free-kicks (28%) and 20 from open play (23%).

    In internationals for Netherlands he scored 14 goals, of which 8 were penalties, 2 free-kicks and 4 from open play. The goal against Austria in Vienna on 30 March 1990 looks on Youtube like a direct free-kick until a replay from behind the goal shows the ball rolling sideways to Koeman from a colleague before he strikes it.

    In remaining official club matches for Groninjen, Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord, Koeman scored 151 goals, of which only 19 were penalties (13%). That leaves 132 goals to divide between free-kicks and open play. is not very good at identifying direct free-kicks from long ago but it does show that Koeman was taking them at least as early as 1985 for Ajax. Only 18% of these remaining 132 non-penalty goals would have to be free-kicks for Koeman to break the 50 mark. Given that he scored more goals with free-kicks for Barcelona than from open play, it seems a fair assumption. A quarter would still appear a conservative estimate, which would give him 60 free-kick goals in all. He probably scored more.

    As a current player, one might think that Cristiano Ronaldo’s direct free-kick total would be set in stone. But sources differ. gives him 40 official club FK goals: 12 for Manchester United and 28 for Real Madrid including Tuesday’s against Wolfsburg. Add his 6 FK goals for Portugal and the total comes to 46.

    @Lucas… identified 14 for Manchester United from Youtube. does not cover his first season with Real Madrid (6 FK goals) but then includes two subsequent goals that doesn’t. One of these may be the effort that touched teammate Pepe on the way in. If we give Ronaldo the benefit of the doubt on all these then this week’s strike against Wolfsburg was his fiftieth official free-kick goal. That represents 9% of all his official goals and 11% excluding penalties.

    I was also wondering about Rivelino, but he has around half Ronaldo’s overall goal total and also took penalties as well as scoring plenty from open play. His proportional breakdown would surely be much nearer Ronaldo’s than defender Koeman’s, so he seems unlikely to have hit the 50 mark with direct free-kicks alone.

    That appears to leave just 17 men to have reached the milestone. Are there any other candidates?
  17. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Nottingham Forest FC
    To rule out Johnny Metgod we'd need to identify just 7 open play goals I think lol, but maybe it's worth trying to check (maybe Puck can help re: AZ and Feyenoord) as I think a very high proportion of his Forest goals were from free-kicks and his conversion rate must've been very good at least at that time I think:


    I wondered about Bernard Genghini - there are I think 9 on here plus the one he got vs Austria in the 1982 World Cup, but even though he scored a lot for a midfielder I'd say it's doubtful he'd have got another 40 free-kick goals (didn't count how many goals are shown on the video in total):

    Random-ish guess - Nelinho?
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  18. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Leeds United AFC
    Great stuff. Many thanks. We can almost certainly rule out Metgod and Genghini. Eight Metgod goals in Holland specifically identified by comprise 2 penalties, 3 headers, 3 long-distance shots and no free-kicks. Only seven of the 48 Genghini goals on his video are free-kicks. Neither were prolific scorers overall.

    But Nelinho is a great find. Nine of the 14 goals on his video are free-kicks. And an interview with him on the Brazilian website ftt.futeboldetodosostempos in 2013 reveals that he scored more direct free-kick goals for Cruzeiro than anyone in the club’s history. Cruzeiro’s website credits him with 105 goals of all types in 427 matches. Atletico Mineiro’s site says he scored 52 times for them in 274 games. Nelinho himself says he scored 210 goals in total, a notable tally for a defender, not too far behind Koeman. Some would have been in unofficial games.

    Nelinho converted a penalty in the 1976 Copa Libertadores final, but his penalties are not discussed and it is not clear how regularly he took them. The Brazilian website describes him as one of the greatest free-kick specialists in the country’s history, which is saying something. There must be a good chance that he reached 50 official goals from direct free-kicks and I would be inclined to add him to the list.

    When asked about other leading free-kick takers, Nelinho names Zico and Eder among his contemporaries, and Didi and Pepe (for power) from the past. If Pepe took free-kicks for Santos, Pelé may not have had everything his own way. Others mentioned are Rivelino, Roberto Dinamite, Dicá, Zenon, Paulo Cesar Caja and Marinho Chagas. From more recent times he singles out Marcelinho Carioca.

    Nelinho played seven games for Brazil in the 1974 and 1978 World Cups. In 1974 Rivelino was the main free-kick taker. Nelinho scored with a direct free-kick against Poland in 1978 after Zico had gone off and before Rivelino came on. There was also his famous goal against Italy in open play, bent in from wide on the right.

    Another candidate for 50 FK goals is Roberto Dinamite. The old website gave him 470 league goals in 758 matches in the top divisions of Brazil and Spain. Adding other competitions and 20 full internationals for Brazil, he probably ended up with a similar number of official goals to Cristiano Ronaldo. But Dinamite is not mentioned as often as a specialist and may not have taken as high a proportion of his teams’ free-kicks.
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  19. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Leeds United AFC
    #169 peterhrt, Apr 17, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
    Another who will have passed the 50-goal mark for direct free-kicks is Pierre van Hooijdonk. Not all his FKs are recorded, but enough have been to make it pretty certain. During two seasons alone at Feyenoord in 2001-02 and 2002-03, van Hooijdonk scored 23 goals from free-kicks. He also has FK goals recorded for Arnhem, Breda, Celtic, Nottingham Forest, Fenerbahce and at a second spell at Feyenoord, and may well have scored some for Benfica and the Dutch national team.
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  20. wm442433

    wm442433 Member

    Sep 19, 2014
    FC Nantes
    + Kuweit (two identical free-kicks).
    PDG1978 repped this.
  21. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Leeds United AFC
    Updated list. Fifty or more goals from direct free-kicks in official matches.

    Zico 80+
    Marcelinho Carioca 80
    Juninho Pernambucano 79
    Didi 70+
    Pelé 70+
    Ronaldinho 70+
    Marcos Assunҫão 64
    Maradona 62
    Ronald Koeman 60+
    Kostas Frantzeskos 57+
    Ceni 56
    Beckham 54
    Mihajlović 50+
    Nelinho 50+
    Platini 50+
    Van Hooijdonk 50+
    Del Piero 50
    Nakamura 50
    Cristiano Ronaldo 50

    Nineteen men identified so far.

    31 other notable free-kick specialists who might make up a Top 50:

    Brazil – Branco, Roberto Carlos, Eder, Neto, Pepe, Rivaldo, Rivelino
    Germany – Ballack, Basler, Brehme, Hässler
    Italy – Roberto Baggio, Mario Corso, Pirlo, Zola
    Former Yugoslavia – Kostić, Pjanić
    Paraguay – Francisco Arce, Chilavert
    Peru – Cubillas, Nolberto Solano
    Romania – Hagi, Claudiu Niculescu
    Argentina – Riquelme
    Bulgaria – Stoichkov
    Greece – Tsartas
    Ireland – Harte
    Netherlands – Sneijder
    Turkey – Hakan Ҫalhanoğlu
    Uruguay – Recoba
    Venezuela – Arango
  22. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Nice work and list. I'd wonder, even though I don't think they will have got 50, whether Metgod and Genghini were still worth a place/mention over the likes of Ballack or Sneijder (that would be my perception/assumption but I might be ignorant as to how many Ballack and Sneijder did score, or might have missed some of the best ones).

    I think you'd be right that Van Hooijdonk will have the most of any player to play for Forest actually, but Pearce I guess got the most at Forest and Metgod I assume would have been scoring them at the highest rate and probably with the best conversion rate whilst at Forest.

    Dragan Stojkovic could possibly be another from Yugoslavia. 20 are on Youtube but I don't know how close that is to all of the ones he scored (there are some from the Yugoslav league, as well as some from Japan).
  23. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Nottingham Forest FC
    I also wonder about Dragan Dzajic, as he scored a decent number for Yugoslavia I think. It's probably impossible to get a good idea about his overall total though I should think.
  24. giles varley

    giles varley Member+

    Oct 8, 2013
    nottingham uk
    Leeds United AFC
    Nat'l Team:
    Cristiano ronaldo is not a free kick 'speciaist'. I know he's scored over 50 but what is his conversion rate ? I imagine its extremely low... how many of his free kicks actually force a save from the keeper or go close ? ..
  25. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Leeds United AFC
    Dzajic is a good call. I should have included him in the second group. Possibly Stojkovic as well (as suggested in your previous post).

    Metgod had a great technique but only scored fifty-odd league goals in total. The Youtube sample of around 30% of Genghini's goals only included seven free-kicks. Pearce could certainly hit them. Not sure how many he scored though.

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