The Top 15 Best Shooters in World Football
One of the most glamorous parts of football is the long shot. Alongside skills, it is the thing that children around the world practice more than anything else. Everybody wants to be able to curl the ball into the top corner or hit a dead-straight rocket that doesn't give the goalkeeper a chance.
With that in mind, here is a selection of the best in the world when it comes to shooting. For me, shooting ability includes long-range shooting, free kicks, lobs and closer, but nonetheless impressive scoring. This is not a list of those who rely on tap-ins.
The list is in no real order, but let me know who you think is the best—I simply can't decide.
At 38, Roberto Carlos' best days are a fair way behind him, but he can hit a free kick as well as he ever could. The Brazilian, now playing in the Russian Premier League can still score impossible goals; he netted one from the corner spot for Corinthians at the start of the year.
His goal against France in 1997 is one of the most celebrated goals of all time, but has been dismissed by many as a fluke. As this article suggests, it wasn't.
"Super Frank" has a brilliant free kick on him, one of the best in the Premier League, but is also more than competent from open play. Lampard doesn't always go for the beautiful long-range, top-corner goals; he is just as likely to hit the ball through a defensive wall or a crowded box, looking to blind the keeper or get a deflection to find a corner of the goal.
His 170 goals for Chelsea including 115 in the Premier League is a record that speaks for itself and suggests that the 33-year-old England midfielder has been doing something right over the last decade.
Ronaldo can take unstoppable free kicks, scoring some incredible goals from dead-ball situations, but he is also impressive when shooting from open play.
He has brilliant awareness and always knows where the goal is (see No. 4 at 1:55 in the video). He is just as deadly from inside the box as he is from outside; his skills get him into good positions but he still has to apply the finish, something he is more than capable of doing.
Michael Essien is not the most prolific scorer; he has scored 25 times in 224 Chelsea appearances, but when he does score, they can be truly incredible. The two in this video, especially the second one, are as good as any strike you will see in the world of football.
Essien plays in a more defensive role, but at 28, he still has plenty of time to up his goal tally; he certainly has the capability to do so when he does find himself in front of goal.
In 10 years at AC Milan, Andrea Pirlo became a world-class player, winning two league titles and two Champions Leagues while also winning a World Cup with Italy. He has now moved to Juventus, as a free agent, an incredible deal for Juve.
Known as the metronome, without his shooting ability he would still be an incredible player, but luckily for us, he is one of the best when it comes to shooting from range and has created some spectacular moments for the fans.
He has not been as good in scoring terms for Milan in the last few seasons, but his 40-yard goal against Parma in late 2010 showed that he still has goals left in him.
Clarence Seedorf made his debut for Ajax at the age of 16, and in the 19 years since then, has scored some impressive goals from range on his way to becoming one of the most successful players of his generation.
He is no longer the player he once was, but his shooting abilities have not been diminished by age. He can still hit the ball as well as ever.
Have a look at Seedorf getting to grips with the controversial "Jabulani" ball during the 2010 World Cup for the BBC.
Keisuke Honda shot to fame after his impressive performances at the 2010 World Cup and has since attracted interest from major clubs such as Liverpool. So far, he hasn't moved away from CSKA Moscow, the club he joined earlier in 2010.
A talented free-kick taker, Honda is equally deadly from open play and could well go on to become a top player in one of the world's major leagues.
Perhaps the greatest dribbler of all time, Lionel Messi is also more than competent when it comes to shooting. The small Argentinian genius often beats a few defenders before firing off a precise shot into any of the four corners of the goal and can also shoot from range, either with power or with more delicate lobs.
The 24-year-old Messi scored 53 times last season, an impressive record. Although a lot of those came as the result of dribbling and tap-ins, a fair number still came through expert finishing and long shots.
Juninho is one of the greatest free-kick takers of all time and his technique has been adopted by players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba. However, they are yet to achieve the same precision as Juninho. The "knuckleball" technique means that the ball does not spin in the air and can curve in any direction, often wrong-footing the goalkeeper.
The goals in the video are all from his time with Al Gharafa, a team from Qatar. While the opposition may not be the strongest he has faced, some of the goals are as good as any he has ever scored.
In April 2011, Juninho signed for Vasco de Gama, the club at which he made his reputation for brilliant free kicks.
In 13 years as a Liverpool player, Steven Gerrard has racked up 140 goals in all competitions, a good record for a midfielder. That, however, isn't what makes him a great shooter. What makes him such a great shooter is his ability to score from range.
The number of goals he scores from outside the box is incredible. Gerrard shows that you don't necessarily need to be able to curve the ball a mile to be an effective striker of the ball. Instead, for the most part, Gerrard keeps it simple, hitting the ball hard and straight. He is brilliant at keeping the ball down, but also has the deftness to produce a clinical lob or a soft touch.
Gerrard may not have had his greatest season last time out, but he is still among the very best in the world when it comes to shooting from range.
Wayne Rooney has become one of the world's leading strikers since arriving at Manchester United in 2004. A large part of his success has been down to some impressive shooting; for example, his free kick on début against Fenerbahçe. He is as good as anyone from close range, and he is just as good from further out.
His spectacular volley against Manchester City last season highlighted his shooting ability as he converted what was, at best, a near-impossible chance.
The 33-year-old Didier Drogba may be moody and even on his way out of Stamford Bridge, but there is no denying his shooting prowess. Drogba is blessed with an incredibly powerful shot, which he puts to good use both in open play and from set pieces, but is also capable of being delicate and precise in front of goal.
Drogba suffered from malaria last season, but still found the net 11 times. The increased competition at Chelsea is bound to make Drogba perform at his best if he stays, and if he doesn't, whoever gets him will be very lucky.
Wesley Sneijder is brilliant from set pieces, as the video shows, and can also score from open play with some truly beautiful shots. His small stature does little to suggest that he would be so deadly from range, but happily he is.
The 27-year-old Sneijder is constantly being linked with the likes of Manchester United, and with goals like the ones he has been scoring, it is easy to see why. The Dutch midfielder is clearly gifted and has been brilliant for Inter since joining from Real Madrid in 2009.
Alessandro Del Piero
Del Piero has racked up 205 goals in Serie A for Juventus over an 18-year career at Juventus and plenty of them have come from the "Del Piero Zone," an area outside the box on the left flank of the pitch. From there he has the ability to put the ball in the top corner with regularity.
On top of that, he is a great free-kick taker who can hit the ball with power and curl and is also a gifted penalty taker. At 36, he is heading towards the end of his career, but he still has a fair few goals left in him; he intends to play for Juventus until he is 40.
The 27-year-old Arjen Robben uses the tried and tested method of cutting in from the flank to find space and he often adds an impressive shot to the mix. Robben only played 14 league games for Bayern Munich last season, yet he still scored 12 times.
Robben is a brilliant user of curl, and often uses it to ensure he shots nestle right in the corner of the goal. His control is equally apparent when he volleys, a fact few Manchester United fans will have forgotten after his magnificent volley against the Red Devils in the 2010 Champions League.