A quality free kick can swing the entire momentum of a soccer match. Some players excel with this skill, while others try to stay away from having to pull them off. It takes confidence, technical practice, and creativity to be amongst the best ever.
When looking at the best free kickers of all time, there are a few that truly stand out. Many of these guys are also some of the best soccer players ever, which is no coincidence. Those willing to step up at the right occasion will showcase their talent for all to see.
14. Frank Lampard
- Free-Kick Goals: 12
Lampard was a great, all-around player, but his free kicks were a thing of beauty during his prime. He was mostly known as someone with a powerful drive on his shots, keeping them at a low angle with free kicks.
His strategy was slightly different from some of the others to make this list, but it worked for him and his team.
13. Juan Roman Riquelme
- Free-Kick Goals: 31
Juan Roman Riquelme gets overlooked at times for his skill as a free kick taker. During a dead ball situation, he could create a lot of control power from just about any distance.
He had the best technique on free kicks, and it allowed him to even continue putting in work with Lionel Messi as his teammate at the international level. Across different teams, he finished his career with 31 goals from free kicks.
12. Roberto Carlos
- Free-Kick Goals: 27
Another Brazilian on this list of quality free kickers is Roberto Carlos. He could certainly do a lot with the soccer ball, but his free kicks were a thing of beauty. The power he generated was extremely tough for any opponents to try to start, and his precision did not really say it at all despite all the power.
It was not hard for him to get his free kicks up over 100 miles an hour consistently. The fact the ball would swerve made it nearly impossible for goalkeepers to have a chance when he was dialed in.
11. Sinisa Mihajlovic
- Free-Kick Goals: 67
Whether he is playing for Yugoslavia or Serbia, the defender really started to take off as one of the best free kickers in the game. He had a bit of a dirty reputation as a defender, but the defense knew that they had a pretty tough shot coming when there were set pieces available.
A lefty who had a perfect combination of speed, curve, and precision, he certainly struck fear in opponents trying to read what he was capable of doing.
10. Andreo Pirlo
- Free-Kick Goals: 45
The Italian made a name for himself as a great passing midfielder, but his free kicks definitely gained attention as well. He did not hit it for the most power or the most amount of bend, but his accuracy was very tough to beat.
He was always a threat to score within range, and even if he did not score directly, he set up a lot of scoring opportunities. It helps that he finished his career with 45 free kick goals that makes him one of the best to do it.
9. Ronald Koeman
- Free-Kick Goals: 60
With so many great players on the Dutch national team during his playing career, Ronald Koeman was counted on for his accuracy and power.
He earned the nickname the King of Free Kicks during his prime, as he had just about every shot in his arsenal. Defenses had a hard time reading his unique run up to the ball, and that only built his reputation as his career went on. It is a big reason why he is one of the top free kickers in soccer history.
- Free-Kick Goals: 62
Zico is one of the most accurate kickers in the history of soccer. He had a technique that was a bit unique, putting a lot of importance on his standing foot.
He would raise his knee at a high angle when hitting the ball. This allowed him to lift the ball over an opposing wall, dropping down and finding the goal in some scenarios.
He was able to score from just about any corner, and any angle. Goalkeepers could never fully pick up on his intent, which drove them crazy.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo
- Free-Kick Goals: 46
Everyone knows Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest ever to play the game. There is really very little he can’t do, but he will go down as one of the best free kickers in the game’s history. It is one of those signature shots he has that makes him a threat even beyond 40 yards from the net.
Known for a pretty short run-up, he is always a threat to score multiple goals in a match just off of free kicks if given the opportunity. His confidence after rare misses certainly makes him that much scarier for opponents. Unfortunately, some players think about their misses too much, and it sits with them for a while.
6. Lionel Messi
- Free-Kick Goals: 50
It should come as no surprise that a player who can do just about everything is also outstanding as a free kicker.
Lionel Messi has scored plenty of goals off of free kicks in his career, and it is a skill that he has developed into a big weapon as time goes on. He did not come in as one of the best to ever play from a free kicking standpoint, but his conversion rate has jumped over the years.
The scary thing is, he can still move up this list if he continues to play at a high level. At this point, he continues adding to his numbers to solidify his positioning.
5. Diego Maradona
- Free-Kick Goals: 62
The influence Diego Maradona had on plenty of soccer players is not overlooked. He could lift the ball over a wall with his free kicks, allowing him to score from long or close range.
A lefty who was very dominant anywhere on the pitch, his surprising power for such a small player often shocked defenses until they saw it up close.
4. David Beckham
- Free-Kick Goals: 65
There might be some pretty great free kickers to make this list, but no one has a movie at least partially inspired by their skill in this department. He became one of his generation’s most well-known soccer players, and his free kick capabilities put him at the top of the sport.
Bending the ball like Beckham made it a huge problem for defenses. Whether he was playing for his club or England, there was no one scarier when given the opportunity.
- Free-Kick Goals: 66
The creativity of Ronaldinho made him a fascinating player during his prime. He had all the tricks in the book as far as dribbling and juggling are concerned, but his technical skill also allowed him to be one of the most accurate free kickers in soccer history.
For any squad he was on, he was a free kick specialist. He could bend the ball from just about anywhere on the pitch, and his power, along with versatility, made him very tough to match.
Not only could he put a ton of spin on the ball, but he could also kick a knuckleball style that was accurate from far distances. This made it a nightmare for defenders to stop and allowed him to swing momentum for his squad.
There might be a few people shocked to see him so high on his list, but that is because all his flashy play made for better headlines. He became an all-time great because he was able to do so much more than that for his team.
- Free-Kick Goals: 70
Plenty of people still have Pele ranked as the best soccer player of all time. He was able to do just about everything on the pitch, and even though his prime was decades ago, he still sets the standard in a lot of ways.
Free kicks might not be the first thing that people think about when examining his game, but that says more about his overall skill than anything.
When he had an opportunity to take a free kick, no one was more dangerous during his era. Not only did he have extremely physical power behind every shot, but his technical skill allowed him to put the ball anywhere.
Putting a good amount of bend on his free kicks is something that was not always a huge part of the game during his time. This opened up more opportunities for him to find the back of the net, or set someone up for an opportunity to score. Wherever he played, Pele took charge with the free kicks.
1. Juninho Pernambucano
- Free-Kick Goals: 77
One of the smallest players to make this list still found ways to create a lot of power with his free kicks. He had outstanding range, and his ability to have control even on top angles makes him the best free-kick taker of all time.
He had 77 career goals from free kicks during his career. However, considering he only scored 148 goals in total, he was truly a specialist when the ball was still.