Top 15 Players With The Most Free-Kick Goals 

An absolutely incredible list of some of the greatest players of all time graces our who’s who of the greatest free-kick takers in world soccer. 

There is something special about a free-kick specialist, perhaps it’s the anticipation that surrounds the potential for an imminent goal, the game pauses, the fans sense the atmosphere tensing, your star player takes a sight of goal… 

The best of the best see a free-kick as a free roll of the dice, other players can’t interfere, it’s just you against the goalkeeper, talent against talent, and some have refined the act to an art form. 

Starting at 15 with a player that oozes class and finesse, by the time you reach number one on our list you may well be trying to hug yourself with barely concealed glee, so let’s get on with a self-indulgent trip down memory lane.

Here are the 15 players with the most free-kick goals ever. 

15. Andrea Pirlo – 46 Free Kick Goals 

Any list that has Andrea Pirlo at the bottom of it has got to be special indeed, as the former Milan and Juventus playmaker was one of the coolest and most creative midfielders of all time. 

Blessed with a range of passing that bordered on the sublime, Pirlo pondered how to take the perfect free-kick for some time, until a revelation while sat on the toilet, of all places, inspired him to strike a ball with three toes rather than five to generate the whip to curl the ball goalwards. 

14. Michel Platini – 50 Free Kick Goals 

France and Juventus legend Michel Platini was a peerless midfielder throughout the 1980s, and a cunning free-kick taker to boot. 

Blessed with a natural ability to place the ball wherever he desired, Platini would mix it up by either going for a shot into the top corner or a thunderous drive straight at goal. 

Another of his specialties was keeping the ball low to the ground, a defensive wall would rise into the air only to be bypassed by the sneakily low attack, goalkeepers left stranded in no-mans land as Platini chalked up yet another goal. 

13. Alessandro Del Piero – 52 Free Kick Goals

Easily one of Seria A and Italy’s most gifted players of all time, Alessandro Del Piero racked up an incredible 513 games for Juventus, scoring an impressive 52 free-kicks in the process. 

An attacking midfielder that foraged ahead for goals, Del Piero had a free-kick that was as unstoppable as it was predictable. 

A high, curling strike that would suddenly drop like a stone, keepers knew what was coming, but were powerless to stop the Italian predator from scoring. 

12. Cristiano Ronaldo – 57 Free Kick Goals 

Sir Alex Ferguson once commented that a free-kick from Ronaldo was the best he had ever seen, praise indeed from the Manchester United legend. 

And with good reason too, as Cristiano Ronaldo has made a career out of making free-kicks look good. 

As the focus on how he looks while standing over the ball as he is on where the ball ends up, Ronaldo may miss a lot more than he scores, but when they get hit, they stay hit. 

With 57 goals from direct free-kicks so far in his incredible career, it would be no surprise to see him finish much higher than the current 12th place he holds on our list when he does decide to retire. 

11. Lionel Messi – 58 Free Kick Goals 

With a left foot that has to be insured as priceless and a right foot that’s about a dollar behind it, there is no surprise that the greatest player of all time knows how to find the beach of the net with the sweetest of free-kicks. 

Technically and creatively the most player of any generation, Messi can curl the ball into either corner and has the ability and creativity to out-fox even the most diligent of keepers. 

Due to his almost mystical ability to ride a challenge and remain on his feet, Messi could perhaps have had more opportunities to score from dead-ball situations were it not for the fact that he probably skipped the challenge, took on three players, and scored a lobbed goal from 18 yards. 

10. Marcelinho Carioca – 59 Free Kick Goals 

Journeyman adventurer Marcelinho Carioca had a habit of falling out with his coaches and teammates, which may explain his 13 different clubs, he even finished his career playing beach soccer.

He also had a habit of scoring loads of free-kicks, earning him the nickname ‘Angel Foot’, and regardless of his off-field antics, finished his career with a creditable 59 goals scored from free-kicks. 

9. Ronald Koeman – 60 Free Kick Goals 

To call Ronald Koeman an excellent utility man is to do a world-class player a disservice, any defender that scores 194 goals in his career is worth watching. 

Known for his penalties, long-range shots, and his unerring aim at free-kicks, Koeman played for the Big Three in Holland, Ajax, PSV, and Feyenoord, as well as Barcelona, scoring regularly for all. 

Koeman is not only the top-scoring defender in world soccer, his ability to strike a ball with such venom from distance meant that he was feared whenever a foul was conceded within range of goal. 

A truly exceptional career with ridiculous statistics, some midfielders and strikers would do anything to have the kind of record the Dutch legend has. 

8. Rogerio Ceni – 61 Free Kick Goals 

He’s a goalkeeper! A goalkeeper! Only in Brazil would a keeper be allowed anywhere near free-kicks with this kind of regularity, but with a success rate like Rogerio Ceni had, you can only stand back and applaud. 

A 13-year career with Sao Paolo in Brazil netted Ceni 131 goals, many of them penalties, but a whopping 61 of them were free-kicks. Regarded as one of Brazil’s greatest ever goalkeepers, Ceni rightly sits proudly at number 8 on our list. 

7. Zico – 62 Free Kick Goals 

Brazilians know all about the beautiful game, and there are very few sights more beautiful than a Brazilian lining up a free-kick. 

Especially when it is Zico doing the kicking; Selecao royalty, and a player reputed to have scored over 100 free-kicks in his career, Zico had the ball on a string. 

Able to bend the ball wherever he wanted it to go, distance or difficulty was no protection for unwary goalkeepers, as Zico perfected the art of scoring from set-plays. 

Zico perfected his craft by leaning back as he struck the ball with his instep, creating incredible spin and unpredictability on the ball, making the ball rise and then quickly fall as it flew towards goal.

Often credited by later players, players who would themselves become world-class dead-ball specialists, with inspiring them to use and absorb his technique, Zico has to go down as the father of the modern free-kick taker. 

6. Diego Maradona – 62 Free Kick Goals 

The Godfather of free-kick specialists, the great yet troubled Maradona is rightly considered one of the greatest players in history. Compact and robust, when he had the ball at his feet players simply couldn’t get it off him. 

Intelligence and creativity shone in everything Maradona did on the soccer field, including his free-kicks. His ability to bend a ball quickly around a wall of players, regardless of the distance from goal, meant he was able to score 62 career goals from set pieces. 

Many of the players on our list today credit Maradona with being their inspiration for how they developed their own free-kick strategies, including Andrea Pirlo and Lionel Messi. 

One of the greatest talents of all time, Maradona had it all, power, agility, strength, and a free-kick that bordered on the sublime. 

5. David Beckham – 65 Free Kick Goals 

Arguably the most famous free-kick taker of all time, David Beckham whips in a shot with such accuracy and consistency it is only a surprise he only got 65 goals from free-kicks in a stellar career for Manchester United and England. 

Ignore the public image, ignore the non-soccer side of Beckham, the winger was famed for his willingness to practice, the hard work put in on the training ground turned the London-born Manchester player into one of the best dead-ball specialists in world soccer. 

4. Ronaldinho – 66 Free Kick Goals 

They say to be truly great at what you do, you have to love doing it, and Ronaldinho certainly loved playing soccer. Always smiling, always attempting the impossible, and sometimes achieving it. 

One of the most skillful players in history, Ronaldinho had a flair and technique that made him stand apart from his peers. Comfortable using both feet, he was able to use his talent to bend a ball at set-pieces or hit it hard and low with great accuracy and effect. 

66 Free-kicks in his career is a world-class haul, and from a player of the caliber of Ronaldinho, the variety and quality of his goals will take your breath away.

3. Victor Legrotaglie – 66 Free Kick Goals 

Very much the outsider of our list, certainly in regards to his fame, yet with a career haul of 66 free-kick goals, Victor Legrotaglie has to make the top three. 

An Argentine that played his entire career in his home country for Gimnasia y Esgrima, Legrotaglie was courted by some of the best teams in the world but remained faithful to his club. 

Beating his fellow Argentines Messi and Maradona on our list offers some insight into how prolific the player was, and while we could argue that the level of competition would have been lower in Argentina at the time, who can argue with 66 goals from free-kicks? 

Still a relative unknown outside of Argentina, Victor Legrotaglie remains a worthy addition to our list, and it could be some time before he is knocked out of the top three. 

2. Pele – 70 Free Kick Goals 

The greatest Brazilian ever to lace up a pair of soccer boots, Pele is still one of the most widely known, and most loved, soccer players of all time. 

With a goal tally that reads like a phone book, 765 career goals no less, it isn’t unreasonable for Pele to have scored the odd free-kick. With a final tally of 70, we could be forgiven thinking that the great Brazilian was just a little greedy in front of the goal. 

A genius with either foot, Pele was an intelligently ruthless competitor with the skills to back up his desire for goals Often hitting his free-kicks with power, Pele put his laces through the ball and relied on sheer pace and power to score many of his goals. 

1. Juninho Pernambucano – 77 Free Kick Goals 

To truly understand how Juninho Pernambucano became the world’s number one free-kick taker, we should really look at what a ‘Knuckle Ball’ is. 

Whereas many of the top players on our list had the skill to bend a ball, using spin to generate a curve on a shot, Juninho perfected a technique called ‘Knuckle balling’ whereby he would hit a ball as hard as possible, while aiming to generate no spin whatsoever.

The result of the ball not spinning, on a correctly executed shot, would have the ball wobbling in the air, moving unpredictably, and catching keeper after keeper out as they were unable to predict the flight of the ball. 

A great many of the best players in world soccer have tried to replicate Juninho’s technique over the years, none have even come close to it, such was its difficulty in executing. 

77 keepers in all were to fall foul to Juninho and his knuckleball shots over his 20-year career, and it is for the sheer quality of his set-pieces, as well as the quantity, that he will be fondly remembered.

Connor Smith

I'm Connor, the guy behind SoccerPrime. I'm a former NCAA Div 1 college player that retired at the age of 21 due to injuries - which led me into a new career as a soccer coach.

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