Hey soccer fan! Have you ever seen a free kick that made your jaw hit the floor? One that curled, dipped, and swerved so violently you couldn‘t believe it went in? Well, you‘re not alone! Some of the greatest goals in soccer history have come from impossible free kicks. Let‘s dive into the legendary free kick takers who have pulled off these physics-defying strikes!
First, to directly answer the question – Roberto Carlos‘ longest free kick goal was an estimated 70 yards out against France in 1997. This insane blast is considered by many to be the greatest free kick ever. More on that incredible strike coming up!
Roberto Carlos‘ Thunderbolt Free Kick Stunned France
Brazil‘s Roberto Carlos cemented his free kick legend status in 1997 with a mind-bending swerving shot against France from about 70 yards out. Let me set the scene:
It was an international friendly tournament match. Brazil was awarded a free kick down the left sideline, pretty far from goal. Carlos approached casually and it looked like he would just cross it into the box.
But then he unleashed a violent left-footed blast that seemed to defy physics. The ball swerved and dipped massively in the air, curling towards the top far corner at insane speed. French keeper Fabien Barthez could only watch helplessly as the ball screamed into the net. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor!
Experts estimate the shot traveled almost 70 yards in the air – just an unbelievable distance. How did Roberto Carlos get so much power and movement?
His unique technique involved wrapping his leg all the way around the ball during contact to generate massive topspin. Combined with his natural strength, this topspin created a "banana" effect, making the ball bend and dip violently. No keeper on Earth could have stopped this miracle strike!
Brazil won the match 3-1, but all anyone could talk about was Carlos‘ physics-defying blast. It instantly became legendary, considered by many to be the best free kick in soccer history decades later. Roberto Carlos changed the game with his free kick prowess!
Columbus Crew‘s Lucas Zelarayán Blasts 56 Yard Free Kick – Longest in MLS History
While Roberto Carlos still holds the record for longest free kick at around 70 yards, Columbus Crew midfielder Lucas Zelarayán came awfully close with a 56 yard missile in 2022. This stunner set the record for longest free kick goal in MLS history!
In a late season match, Zelarayán was fouled just inside his own half, setting up a free kick from long range. But the keeper was off his line, presenting a tempting target. Lucas went for the jugular and absolutely nailed a powerful left footer that carried over the keeper‘s head and into the net!
I leapt out of my seat – I couldn‘t believe he scored from 56 yards out! The previous MLS record was 55 yards, set by legend David Beckham. But Zelarayán claimed the new record with an incredible blast of accuracy and power. Free kick takers like Zelarayán prove you should never think a free kick is impossible – even from your own half!
Lionel Messi – The Modern Free Kick Maestro
When it comes to free kick scoring volume among current players, one man stands above the rest – the legendary Lionel Messi. He‘s scored an astounding 21 free kick goals for Barcelona in just a 5 season stretch from 2014-2019. The accuracy and bend he gets on curling shots into the top corners is a sight to behold.
To put Messi‘s free kick numbers in perspective, here‘s a breakdown of the most free kick goals by top players from 2014-2019:
- Lionel Messi – 21 goals
- Cristiano Ronaldo – 12 goals
- Neymar – 11 goals
- Willian – 10 goals
As you can see, Messi‘s production crushes even free kick legends like Ronaldo. The little magician has turned free kick taking into an art form. If he‘s lining one up within 35 yards of goal, fans rise out of their seats in anticipation of Messi‘s magic.
What makes Messi so dominant on free kicks? His extensive practice regimen is vital – he‘ll stay after training for 200-300 more free kicks to perfect his technique. But he also has the innate ability to slightly adjust power, curl, and dip for each shot based on distance and position. Messi‘s free kick mastery is a privilege to watch!
Sergio Ramos – Free Kick and Penalty Specialist
While not as smooth or artistic as Messi on free kicks, Real Madrid central defender Sergio Ramos has his own cannon of a leg that can do damage from set pieces. He became an absolute force on free kicks and penalties for Real over his lengthy career there.
Get this – Ramos has banged in over 20 free kick goals and over 20 penalties for Real Madrid! For a defender, those are staggering set piece numbers. Standing 6‘1" with freakish leaping power, Ramos can get incredible force on headers and rockets off his boot.
If Madrid won a free kick in range or a penalty, fans knew to watch out for Ramos to put it on frame. Keepers rightly feared Ramos and did everything possible to set the wall up perfectly. But his driven free kick shots often found the corners anyway. Any free kick or penalty with Ramos on the end of it led to clenched cheeks on the opposing side!
Albania‘s Ledio Pano – Never Missed a Penalty in 50+ Attempts!
Scoring from the penalty spot requires extreme mental fortitude to stay cool under pressure. Some legends like Messi and Ronaldo may only convert 75-85% – still fantastic, but not perfect. However, one player achieved utter penalty perfection in his career:
Ledio Pano, an Albanian midfielder in the 1960s-70s, remarkably never missed a single penalty, going over 50 for 50 in his career! His nerve, composure, and technique proved unstoppable from the spot. Even the very best like Messi and Ronaldo have missed important penalties from time to time. But not Pano – he seemed immune to the pressure, slotting home every penalty he took for various Albanian clubs.
Pano‘s unblemished penalty record is mind-blowing. Over 50 shots with 100% conversion takes supernatural calm and precision under immense pressure. Ledio Pano stands alone as the most automatic penalty taker in soccer history!
Only 6 Players Have Ever Kicked 1000 Goals in AFL/VFL History
Think scoring 100 goals in a soccer career is impressive? Well in Australian rules football, the very best players rack up goals at a feverish pace. But only SIX players in AFL/VFL history have ever reached the hallowed milestone of 1000 career goals:
- Tony Lockett – 1,360 goals
- Gordon Coventry – 1,299 goals
- Jason Dunstall – 1,254 goals
- Doug Wade – 1,057 goals
- Gary Ablett Sr. – 1,031 goals
- Gordon Coventry – 1,299 goals
That‘s it – just six players ever! To kick 1000 goals requires outrageous longevity at an elite level along with supreme accuracy and consistency in front of goal. These select few sit at the apex of goalkicking excellence in Australian football. Their records may never be broken.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Most Feared Penalty Taker Today
While players like Messi and Neymar are no slouches on free kicks these days, most experts consider Cristiano Ronaldo as the most feared penalty taker in soccer currently. His stats back it up too – Ronaldo has netted over 140 career penalties with an insanely high conversion percentage.
CR7‘s technique is nearly flawless – he takes a slow stutter step run-up to unbalance the keeper, while blasting shots with pinpoint accuracy into the corners. Ronaldo has scored clutch penalties in cup finals, league deciders, and more.
In the 2018 World Cup, Ronaldo cemented his legendary status by almost single-handedly willing Portugal to a draw against Spain – including burying a hat trick of penalties! If Ronaldo earns a penalty kick these days, just head to the center circle to get ready for kickoff – it‘s practically already 1-0 before he takes it!
Zinedine Zidane – Never Once Caught Offside in His Entire Club Career!
This record isn‘t a statistical measure, but it‘s still mightily impressive. The legendary French midfielder Zinedine Zidane incredibly was never once caught offside in his entire club career with Cannes, Juventus and Real Madrid!
How did he pull this off? Zidane had an uncanny attacking sense, ability to time his runs, and next-level awareness of defending lines. He just understood exactly when to time his forward bursts better than anyone. On top of his sublime technique, vision and passing, Zidane could attack without worry of running out of play.
Consider all the blazing fast strikers who get caught offside regularly even today with VAR technology. For Zidane to have never been flagged offside over his long club career remains a remarkable accomplishment in attacking movement and awareness. Zizou was truly on another level!
Giuseppe Signori – Scoring a Hat Trick of Free Kicks in One Serie A Match
Free kicks are incredibly hard to score directly from, even for set piece wizards like Messi and Ronaldo. Usually players are lucky to sneak 1 or maybe 2 in over a full season. But Italian striker Giuseppe Signori achieved something truly extraordinary in 1994 by scoring a hat trick of free kick goals in one Serie A match for Lazio against Piacenza!
This feat of sheer free kick mastery may never be repeated. Signori‘s first two goals came from nearly identical positions just outside the box, perfectly nestling into the top corner. His third again came from the top of the box as he completed his hat trick of free kick missiles!
Scoring three free kick goals in one half of play remains an unthinkable achievement. Signori‘s unique accuracy from distance helped him enter Italian football folklore with this magical performance.
Neymar Joins Ronaldo as Only Players With 2 Free Kick Goals in a UCL Match
While Messi dominates the free scoring charts, his former Barcelona teammate Neymar proved his own free kick prowess for Barca against Celtic in the Champions League in 2013. He incredibly scored two free kick goals in the same Champions League match!
His first was an absolute beauty from around 30 yards, curling perfectly into the top corner. Celtic‘s wall and keeper were frozen as Neymar‘s shot bent away from them into the side netting. He added a second off another free kick later in the 6-1 rout.
Before Neymar, the only player this century to score twice directly off free kicks in a Champions League match was Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009. This puts Neymar in truly elite company! When he gets chances within 35 yards, Neymar can score free kicks with the best of them.
Cracking Free Kicks Will Forever Be the Stuff of Legend
From Roberto Carlos‘ preposterous 70 yard missile to Neymar‘s dipping UCL brace, the greatest goals off free kicks stand the test of time. Moments of sheer human brilliance like Zidane‘s first time volleys or Messi‘s mazy solo runs may not be possible without free kicks. They allow legends to seize the moment, etching their brilliance into history with mind-bending strikes.
So next time you watch your favorite player hover over a free kick, don‘t lose hope – even if it seems near impossible, greatness happens at the intersection of opportunity and skill. These magical free kick takers prove that we should never stop believing in the unbelievable!
Let me know who scored your personal favorite free kick goal of all time! I could watch these stunning strikes over and over.