Juninho's superhuman Champions League free-kick vs Barcelona for Lyon in 2009

  • Kobe Tong

Juninho Pernambucano is arguably the greatest free-kick taker in football history.

Whenever you think of the free-kick masters to have graced the beautiful game, the Brazilian wizard always comes to mind alongside David Beckham and Lionel Messi at the very top of the pile.

According to The Sun, Juninho holds the world record for the most free-kick goals in the history of the professional game, holding a seven-goal lead over Pele with a staggering 77 conversions.

Free-kick legends

The likes of Beckham, Pele, Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho are purported to hold their heads above the 60-goal mark, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi find themselves even further behind.

As such, the evidence is pretty favourable when it comes to Juninho, but even when you look at the debate from a purely subjective angle, things still appear pretty rosey for the master himself.

The point we’re tying to make is that if you sat football fans down in front of montages of the greatest free-kick takers ever then there’s good reason to think that Juninho’s would look the best.

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Juninho’s free-kick genius

While, yes, there is a gorgeous elegance to the whipped strikes of Beckham and Messi, nothing quite makes you go white-knuckled and grab the armrest like a screamer from Juninho.

As the potential inaugurator of the ‘knuckle-ball’ technique, it often felt as though Juninho could cycle through styles and approaches in order to score free-kicks from wherever he wanted.

And perhaps no finer free-kick in Juninho’s world-record breaking catalogue demonstrates that better than his astonishing Champions League goal against a prime Barcelona in February 2009.

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Juninho’s worldie vs Barcelona

Take stock of each and every compliment we’ve fired Juninho’s way because his breath-taking free-kick from the tightest of angles is one of the finest that Europe’s premier competition has ever seen.

Despite appearing to have no right to even shoot, Juninho launched an inch-perfect strike that seemed to enter the stratosphere before plunging back down to the earth and rippling the net.

The bewildered reaction of Victor Valdes, who literally fell backwards into the goal, just about said everything, so be sure to check out Juninho’s Champions League masterpiece down below:

Scientists need to be studying that goal because the physics behind it are absolutely wild.

Scientists, get studying it

When you watch the wide-angle replays and see just how high the ball travelled before tumbling so dramatically, dipping a mere inch beneath the crossbar, it really does make you want to applaud.

Sadly for Lyon, though, even a moment of Juninho magic couldn’t see them stop Pep Guardiola’s rampage towards Champions League glory as Thierry Henry eventually levelled the scores at 1-1.


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The French side held on for a draw at Stade de Gerland, but ultimately came unstuck in a 5-2 drubbing during the second leg with Juninho – despite scoring again – earning a late red card.

Nevertheless, you can rest assured that Juninho’s physics-destroying strike in the first game will endure amongst the Champions League’s finest ever goals. Anyhow, we’re off to watch it again…



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