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12 players who have scored more free kick goals than Messi

On Saturday, 9 November, 2019 Lionel Messi powered Barcelona to a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou, notching a hattrick from dead ball situations, a penalty and two free kicks.
It was the Argentine’s 34th La Liga hattrick (same as rival Cristiano Ronaldo), while those pair of free kick goals took his career tally to 52.
But the Albiceleste captain still has a long way to go if he is to be considered the greatest free kick taker of all time. Messi’s impressive haul isn’t even enough yet to break into the top 10 of the most successful free kick specialists chart dominated by his fellow South Americans.
No1: Juninho Pernambucano
Leading the pack is current Lyon Sporting Director, Juninho Pernambucano. The ex Brazil international scored 77 free kicks during his playing days with his ‘knuckleball technique’.
No 2: Pele
Behind Juninho is another Brazil great and arguably the greatest goal scorer of all time, Edson Arantes do Nascimento aka Pele. The former Santos man, who won 3 World Cups for the Samba Boys in 1958, 1962 and 1970, racked up 70 goals from direct free kicks.
No 3: Legrotaglie, Ronaldinho
Third on the list is former Argentine player and coach Víctor Antonio Legrotaglie. Legrotaglie reportedly turned down interests from European heavyweights such as Real Madrid and Inter Milan to ply his trade in his homeland until his retirement in 1976 notching up 66 free kick goals in the process.
Sharing the 3rd position with Legrotaglie is former 2-time World Footballer of the Year and 2002 World Cup winner Ronaldo de Assis Moreira popularly known as Ronaldinho. The ex PSG, Barcelona and AC Milan midfielder scored 66 free kick goals during an entertaining career full of flicks and tricks.
In 2018 during an interview, Ronaldinho picked his 40-yard free kick goal for Brazil against England in the quarter finals of 2002 FIFA World Cup as the best goal of his career.
No 5: Beckham
One goal behind both Legrotaglie and Ronaldinho is David Beckham. The former England captain occupies the 5th spot having scored 65 times from free kicks with his unique technique dubbed ‘Bend It Like Beckham’.
No 6: Maradona, Zico
Arguably, the greatest player to ever play the round leather game, Diego Armando Maradona is 6th on the log with 62 strikes from free kicks. The former Argentine captain was renowned for his amazing dribbling skills during his playing days, leading his country to world cup glory in 1986 and giving Napoli their most successful era till date with two league titles in 1987 and 1989 and leading the Neapolitans to a first European triumph also in 1989.
Sharing Maradona’s position with him is yet another former Brazil international, Arthur Antunes Coimbra popularly called Zico. Also known as ‘the White Pele’, Zico scored over 500 career goals with 62 of those coming from direct free kicks. Now with Japanese side Kashima Antlers as technical director, Zico is also Brazil’s 5th highest goal scorer with 48 goals in 91 appearances for the Seleção.
No 8: Koeman
Next up on the list is current Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman. The former Barcelona, Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord player netted 60 times from free kicks and also ranks as the highest scoring defender of all time 253 strikes.
It was Koeman’s extra time free kick goal against Sampdoria that handed Barcelona their maiden European cup in 1992.
No 9: Ceni
Occupying the 9 th spot on the all-time list is former Brazil goalkeeper Rogério Ceni. Ceni spent the majority of his 25-year playing career at Sao Paolo while finding the back of the opposition net a whooping 131 times, 59 of those coming from direct free kicks despite being a goalkeeper. The 2002 World Cup winner is now coach of Brazilian club Fortaleza.
No 10: Marcelinho
In 10th place is also another Brazilian, Marcelinho Carioca. Marcelinho flourished as an attacking midfielder with Corinthians in 3 different spells and was a dead-ball specialist during his playing career scoring 59 times from free kicks. The 48-year old was given the nickname ‘Angel Foot’ due to his set piece abilities.
No 11: Frantzeskos
Kostas Frantzeskos sits in 11th spot on the list with 57 goals. The ex Greek international played mainly in his homeland for the likes of Panathinaikos, PAOK and later for Cypriot side AEK Larnaca and was a proficient free kick taker. In the last game of the 1996/1997 Greece Super League season, Kostas scored a hattrick of free kicks for PAOK against Kastoria FC, becoming the only player to achieve such feat in Greek football till date.
No 12: Ronaldo
With 54 free kick goals comes in Cristiano Ronaldo in 12th spot. The Portuguese captain might no longer be productive from set pieces in recent years, but his career haul of 54 strikes still puts him two more than fierce rival Lionel Messi.
From the way he is going, do you think Messi can eventually catch up with Juninho on 77 free kick goals?

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