Is there a better free-kick taker than Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse in world football right now?
With the possible exception of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, it’s hard to think of another footballer who’s so dangerous from set-pieces.
Ward-Prowse admitted during an interview with The Guardian in November that Manchester United legend David Beckham was one of his biggest inspirations growing up – and it shows.
“Beckham was the one for me,” Ward-Prowse said. “Not only his free-kicks but his overall image. I copied every haircut, I wanted his boots, I wanted to wear his number. He was the guy that I looked up to and thought: ‘Wow.’ He had that effect on me and inspired me to try and take free-kicks.
“I’ve lost count of the amount of people that have mentioned the similarities in our techniques. But I do feel there are differences as well. I know Beckham’s was the big arm swing and he was kind of leant back a bit more. He wasn’t as hunched over the ball. And when I strike it, I tend to jump to force that up and down movement. The more I’ve tried to develop a technique, I’ve just found my own way of doing it.”
Ward-Prowse added another stunning free-kick to his incredible collection against Newcastle United on Saturday.
The 26-year-old curled in a magnificent strike past Karl Darlow to reduce the Magpies’ lead to one goal.
Watch Ward-Prowse’s free-kick here…
That’s an absolute beauty.
Ward-Prowse moves above Nolberto Solano, Jamie Redknapp and Frank Lampard on the list of players with the most goals from direct free-kicks in Premier League history.
He now sits level with Morten Gamst Pedersen and Ian Harte on 10.
In fact, only six players in history have now scored more direct free-kick goals than the England international…
Sebastian Larsson (11)
The former Sunderland star netted 11 direct free-kick goals, averaging one every 994 minutes.
Laurent Robert (11)
The ex-Newcastle star possessed a superb left-foot and bagged the same number of direct free-kick goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo (11)
One of the most revered free-kicks takers of his generation netted 11 in the Premier League with Manchester United between 2003-2009.
Gianfranco Zola (12)
The Chelsea hero used to practice free-kicks with the legendary Diego Maradona.
Thierry Henry (12)
Arguably the best player in Premier League history, Henry scored 12 free-kicks with Arsenal.
David Beckham (18)
But top of the list, with an incredible 18 free-kick goals, is Beckham. Undoubtedly one of the greatest free-kick takers of all time, will Ward-Prowse eventually surpass his idol’s tally?