Deft touch. Sublime control. Sheer power. Otherworldly wizardry. It’s all here!
With the quarter finals of the Champions League coming up this week, I thought it was timely to look back at a collection of amazing free kicks, some of which cement the legend of a player and can even elevate the morale of an entire country! So, let’s start with such a goal.
David Beckham – England vs Greece, 2001 – World Cup Qualifier
After a heartbreaking exit from the 1998 World Cup to Argentina on penalties (Beckham copped the brunt of the criticism for being sent off in that game), England knew they could not afford to not even make the World Cup this time around. Greece, despite already not qualifying, were on track for a 2-1 victory until Beckham stepped up to the plate in the dying minutes of the game. With the weight of a nation’s hopes on his shoulders, Beckham delivered a trademark free kick, sending the stadium (and the rest of England) into pandemonium. England through to the World Cup by the grit of the teeth with Beckham redeemed and his legend status sealed.
Ronaldinho – Brazil vs England, 2002 – World Cup
After Beckham’s wonder goal landed them a spot in the 2002 World Cup, Brazilian maestro Ronaldinho then dished up his own stunner against England. Catching goalkeeper David Seaman partially by surprise, Ronaldinho netted this majestic goal from an angle and distance no one normally scores from.
Dimitri Payet – West Ham vs Crystal Palace, 2016 – EPL
I swear this thing had ice on it by the time it came down, I still don’t know how Payet got the curve and dip on this to kiss it in off the top right hand corner against Palace. Absolute sorcery!
Matt Le Tissier – Southampton vs Wimbledon, 1994 – EPL
The sublime skill of “Le God” left me in awe on a number of occasions and his audacious free kick against Wimbledon in 1994 is no exception. The control he had over the ball and the deftness of his touches puts him in the supremely talented section and I think one of the English Premier League’s forgotten legends who no one really talks about much anymore.
Roberto Carlos – Brazil vs France, 1997 – Tournoi de France
In this international friendly warm-up tournament for the 1998 World Cup, Brazilian “defender” Roberto Carlos, renowned for his power and long-distance free kicks, scored the most bonkers free kick I have ever seen. From range, outside of the left boot, mad curl, in off the post and Barthez didn’t even move. The ball boy even started to move because he thought it was going to hit him! The distance from goal was only slightly longer than his run-up! Just mad.
There have been many great goals scored from free kicks over the years, so if these five haven’t quenched your thirst, I have included an EPL compilation video below including strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, Steven Gerrard and the list goes on! (Also has better quality footage of Payet’s and Le Tissier’s goals).