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A Compilation That Proves Shunsuke Nakamura Was The Free-Kick King, His Technique Was Next Level

A Compilation That Proves Shunsuke Nakamura Was The Free-Kick King, His Technique Was Next Level

A work of art. Happy 44th birthday, Shunsuke.

To celebrate the birthday of Celtic legend Shunsuke Nakamura, we thought it was absolutely necessary to share a compilation of the set-piece specialist doing what he did best. Free-kicks.

The former Japan international, who joined the Hoops from Italian side Reggina in 2005, scored 34 goals in 166 appearances during his four-year stint in Scotland. And most of those goals were special. Really special.

From a last-gasp free kick winner against Kilmarnock to win the league title, to that famous strike against Manchester United in the Champions League. Nakamura will go down in history as one of the best free-kick takers of all time.

Perhaps the most famous of those goals came in 2006, when the Japanese playmaker sent Parkhead into a frenzy with a 30-yard screamer against Manchester United. Let's set the scene.

In the 81st minute, with the game tied at 0-0, Celtic needed a goal to process into the Champions League knockout phase, so that man Nakamura stepped up from distance.

After taking a deep breath, he proceeded to bend a free-kick past Edwin van der Sar and into the top corner to give Celtic and their fans a truly memorable night in Europe.

So what's the secret behind his success rate from free-kicks? Back in 2012, the former Espanyol man opened up about technique in an interview with UEFA.

"I try to keep my right foot firmly on the pitch and inject some power into the shot using the movement of my hips," Nakamura said.

"When I connect with the ball, I try to turn my ankle upwards. If you do this correctly the ball will curl and drop down at the right moment.

"For me, psychology is the most important thing. I try not to feel too eager. If my head is clear and my mindset right, I take my best free kicks."

Nakamura once showcased his shot accuracy when he whipped the ball through the window of a moving bus. As you can see in the footage below, a Japanese TV show challenged the playmaker to hit the target from a considerable distance and he did so in style.

Nakamura was also tasked to score free-kicks against a giant, robotic goalkeeper in another TV show challenge.

And yes, he proved he still has it by converting several inch-perfect free-kicks into the back of the net with his wand of a left peg.

Happy 44th birthday to the free-kick king, Shunsuke Nakamura. What are your favourite memories of the Celtic legend?

Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: SPFL/YouTube

Topics: Celtic, Scottish Premiership