There’s an argument to be had that Lionel Messi is the best free-kick taker in the world.
Yes. As well as being an incredible dribbler and passer, he’s also pretty good at free-kicks, too.
The Argentinian scored eight direct free-kicks last season, including that incredible effort against Liverpool in the Champions League, and has 48 in his career in total.
By comparison, Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score a single free-kick last season and managed only one in the campaign before.
But how did Messi get so good at them?
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Look no further than Diego Maradona.
The Argentina legend has taken credit for Messi’s incredible free-kick record.
Messi has Maradona to thank
Maradona worked with Messi during his spell at national team coach between 2008 and 2010.
And in that time, he says he passed on some advice to help Messi become close to unstoppable from set-pieces.
“I coached the best, Messi, and nobody can tell me otherwise, because he was able to skip past up to five players - a phenomenon,” Maradona, who recently became the boss of Gimnasia de La Plata, said, per Goal.
“He had an issue with free-kicks. When we finished every training session, we kept Leo behind so he could practice, and he started to hit the post.
“I didn’t teach him how to take a free-kick, then he asked me how I was able to score.
“I said, ‘you just have to hit it in the middle. They aren’t going to give me an Oscar to teach you this’.
“And he replied, ‘but I hit it in the middle and the ball goes this way or that way’ and I told him, ‘don’t worry, you’re going to make it’. Now he just can’t miss.”
One legend assisting in the development of another.
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