Bend it like Beckham – the best free kicks (video)

With David Beckham’s imminent retirement, it is time to celebrate the wonderful art of the direct free-kick. There is not one football viewer who hasn’t attempted to replicate one of Beckham’s curlers into the top corner, but footballers themselves have their own individual techniques. Here’s a selection of the most eye-catching efforts.





Roberto Carlos’ legendary free-kick for Brazil against France is arguably better than anything Beckham produced. The swerve left the keeper motionless, and it is surely among the most audacious free-kicks ever to hit the net in international football. The left-back spent the rest of career trying to re-create this effort, but if nothing else, he scared all future opposition defences from fouling any of his teammates in similar positions.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored some spectacular goals in his time, but none powerful than this free-kick against Real Zaragoza. It is quite reasonable to assume that had the keeper not got a touch to this shot, the net would have come undone. With goals like that, you realise how good Barcelona had to be to keep him out of his favoured position through the middle.

Ronaldinho fell from grace as quickly as he arrived, but moments like this are why the former Barcelona forward was considered the best in the world. The awareness and speed of thought to roll the ball underneath a jumping Werder Bremen wall was a delight to watch – who needs power when you have the most delicate of placement.

Cristiano Ronaldo was what Man United fans had been waiting for since the sale of David Beckham. Occupying the number 7 shirt, his free-kicks became just as unstoppable – this particular screamer left David James standing, and was one of his best. His unpredictable firepower will never truly be replaced at Old Trafford.