David Beckham celebrates his 47th birthday today.
However, just because so many years have passed since that heartfelt departure at Paris Saint-Germain, it doesn’t mean that the brilliant moments that Beckham produced are remembered any less fondly.
Happy birthday, Beckham
In fact, Beckham is a rare breed of footballer where his iconic status is such that he’s known across the world by millions of people who probably couldn’t care less about the beautiful game.
That being said, we could probably wager that even those who largely know Beckham for his celebrity standing would still know that he was famous for being world-class at one particular part of football.
Yes, that’s right, the whole ‘Golden Balls’ and ‘Bend it like Beckham’ narrative helps the wider world to know that Beckham is one of the greatest free-kick takers that the men’s game has ever seen.
Beckham’s iconic free-kicks
There are few things more recognisable in football than videos and images of Beckham standing in his signature pose a few paces behind a ball with the wall, posts and goalkeeper in his cross hair.
From scoring more Premier League free-kicks than anybody else to that strike against Greece, there are many supporters who would argue that Beckham is the greatest ever when it comes to set pieces outside of the penalty area.
However, ‘many’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘most’ and Beckham blowing out 47 candles on his birthday cake made us wonder about his standing in the skill that he’s most famous for perfecting.
The top 25 free-kick takers ever
And to satiate our curiosity, we turned to the interactive list titled: “Best Free Kick Takers in Football (Soccer),” over at thetoptens.com where fans can cast their opinion on who they think the GOAT really is.
Plus, the list goes well beyond the titular ‘top ten’ with all manner of candidates – from the inspired to ludicrous – making the list where their status is decided upon by the clicks and thoughts of the fans.
So, without further ado, let’s see where Beckham ranks amongst the greatest ever free-kick takers in men’s football, according to the fans, by checking out the top 25 at the time of writing down below:
25. Robin van Persie
24. Franck Ribery
23. Leighton Baines
22. Gheorghe Hagi
21. Juan Román Riquelme
18. Diego Forlan
16. Ryan Giggs
15. Wesley Sneijder
14. Shunsuke Nakamura
13. Juan Arango
12. Alessandro del Piero
11. Pierre van Hooijdonk
10. Andrea Pirlo
9. Lionel Messi
8. Steven Gerrard
6. Siniša Mihajlović
5. Roberto Carlos
4. Diego Maradona
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
2. David Beckham
- Juninho Pernambucano
Juninho claims GOAT status
Pipped to the post!
Sorry Becks, but you sadly won’t have the added birthday present of being voted as the greatest free-kick taker of all time with Juninho claiming GOAT status in the eyes of the fans.
And with the Brazilian purportedly holding the world record for the most free-kick goals scored in football history, we’re inclined to think that even Beckham himself would be relaxed about losing out to him.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of talking points to unpack from the top 25 and none more so than the baffling absence of Pele despite the fact he’s reportedly scored as many as 70 free-kicks.
Marry that to Gerrard and Sneijder placing much higher than we think they should and Zico being unfairly shunned behind Arango and Giggs to see that there are plenty of placements to discuss and debate.
However, when it comes to choosing one free-kick taker over another, it always comes down to imagining who you’d pick to take one in stoppage time if your life depended on it finding the back of the net.
And you can bet your bottom dollar that millions upon millions of fans would nominate the birthday boy himself.