World Football: 7 Free-Kick Specialists with Little Else to Offer

Ed Wyman@@edwymanCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2011

World Football: 7 Free-Kick Specialists with Little Else to Offer

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    Direct free kicks are one of the most glamorous aspects of football. Every child dreams of being the one standing over the ball 25 yards out with a minute to go, needing to score to win.

    The people on this list have lived that dream, and done it better than most. Unfortunately, they now bring little else to the table on the field. Some of them once offered much more, some did not.

    Whatever the case, these players still have free kicks to be proud of.

    Players like Ronaldo, quite clearly, bring more than free kicks, hence why he's not on the list (I sense that as soon as there is a list about free kicks and he's not on it, people will object). The same goes for players like Ronaldinho and Riquelme, who, though not the players they once were, still offer much more than free kicks.

Ricardo Quaresma

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    Once touted as a potential all-time great, Quaresma has rather fallen by the wayside. Still only 28, the Portuguese has already played for clubs such as Barcelona, Porto, Inter Milan and Chelsea, but has not managed more than 30 appearances in a season since 2005.

    Injuries have greatly hampered his career, but he still possesses a great free kick. Able to curl the ball as well as the best, Quaresma has great talent—and not just with free kicks.

    Unfortunately, it is really only the free kicks, and some pieces of skill, that Quaresma will be remembered for.

Alex

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    Chelsea centre-back Alex does not have a great deal to do at Chelsea. He is stuck behind players such as Ivanovic and Luiz and has made mistakes in the past that have proved costly. That being said, he is a decent player.

    His main skill, however, is that he can hit a quite fearsome free kick. He gets an unbelievable amount of power on his free kicks and some wicked curl. 

    As you can see from the video, you can pretty much guess where he's going to put the ball. It's pretty much a race between the ball and the goalkeeper. The ball tends to win.

Roberto Carlos

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    Roberto Carlos has always been able to produce something special from dead-ball situations. His free kick against France in 1997 is arguably one of the greatest goals of all time and he also scored a fair few powerful drives for Real Madrid.

    His conversion rate is far from brilliant, but he still has a potentially lethal shot on him.

    He is currently the captain of big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala, but brings relatively little at the age of 38 beyond what he can do from set pieces.

    That being said, the Brazilian does not have any plans to retire from football in the near future, although his recent appointment as assistant caretaker manager suggests that he may be spending more time off the pitch than on it.

Álvaro Recoba

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    Only in the field of free-kick taking did Recoba fulfil his incredible talent. His injury problems and suspect attitude meant that the man who was at one stage the highest paid footballer in the world never became the player he should have been.

    Luckily, however, his free kicks are absolutely marvelous. Capable of generating great speed and curl, Recoba has scored dozens of free kicks in his career—notably during his time with Inter Milan.

    The 35-year-old has now moved back to Uruguay and is approaching the end of his career. Inter fans will probably remember him best for his ability with the dead ball, a shame considering his skill with the ball at his feet in open play.    

Shunsuke Nakamura

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    Best known for his four-year spell with Celtic, the Japanese maestro's free kicks made him a fan favourite—a status he still retains in Japan.

    Whether it was scoring against United in the Champions League or securing the league title with a perfectly placed free kick, Nakamura had a habit of scoring important free kicks.

    He did not get to play much of a role with Espanyol after leaving Celtic and has since returned to Japan where he is still scoring free kicks.

David Beckham

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    David Beckham brings plenty to teams off the pitch, with his wealth of experience and hard-working attitude, but on the field, the 36-year-old brings far less than he once did—although he is enjoying arguably his best season with the Galaxy at the moment.

    His free-kick taking abilities remain impressive, however. He can still put as much curl with as much pace on his free kicks as he ever could and netted a stunner against Kansas City a few months ago. He manages to keep the ball incredibly flat, giving the goalkeeper virtually no time to react.

    Beckham has never relied on speed, and can still hit a beautiful long pass, but it is for those rare moments, and his marketability, that big teams like PSG are currently courting his name. 

Juninho

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    Juninho is a truly special free-kick taker. He has racked up 158 goals in his near-20-year career, largely as a result of his knuckle-ball free kicks.

    His ability to get the ball to swing both ways in the air has wrong-footed countless goalkeepers and makes him a true master of the free kick.

    Juninho is 36 years old and has returned to Brazil after an incredibly successful spell with Lyons and a short spell in Qatar. His career is winding down, but he can still hit a free kick like few others have ever done.