Juninho Pernambucano is the greatest free kick taker in history, he scored so many bangers
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Let's kick this article off with a stat. In eight seasons at Lyon, midfielder Juninho Pernambucano netted 100 goals for the French side, with 44 of those coming from direct free-kicks.
To put his record into further perspective, the Brazilian scored 77 free kicks during a 20-year career, pinging goals from range for the likes of Vasco da Gama, Al-Gharafa and hometown club Sport Club do Recife.
Juninho will go down in history as the best free-kick taker of his generation, scoring double the amount of Andrea Pirlo, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.
I mean, just look at this compilation of his very best strikes. His technique and accuracy is something else.
It’s Juninho Pernambucano’s birthday today. You remember him.— A Funny Old Game (@sid_lambert) January 30, 2023
Brazilian midfielder. Sensational from set pieces.
Here’s 55 seconds of him doing the Lord’s work at Lyon…
The only person that comes close to the Lyon legend is goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, who netted 61 career free-kicks.
The former Sao Paulo man holds the record for the most direct free-kicks scored by a player with one club but ultimately, the laser-accurate Pernambucano reigns supreme in the all-time list.
In his 2014 autobiography, Andrea Pirlo admitted to idolising the man from Recife.
"During his time at Lyon, that man made the ball do some quite extraordinary things," Pirlo wrote. "He'd lay it on the ground, twist his body into a few strange shapes, take his run-up and score.
"He never got it wrong. Never. I checked out his stats and realised it couldn't just be chance. He was like an orchestra conductor who'd been assembled upside down, with the baton held by his feet instead of his hands.
"He'd give you the thumbs up by raising his big toe - somebody at Ikea was having a good laugh the day they put him together."
So, what does Juninho put his incredible free-kicks down to?
The Brazilian spoke to Four Four Two in 2018 about when he realised he was a free-kick specialist.
"I started by copying free-kicks taken by Marcelinho, who played for Corinthians," he said. "He was one of my inspirations, and the first player I had ever seen hit the ball head on and make it dance in the air."
"That tells you that the technique isn't mine, either! Didi, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1958 and 1962, was doing it back then, too. Everyone since has just been tweaking the formula.
"I was always great at shooting, but as a child I didn't have enough power to score free-kicks. I played futsal until I was 13 and didn't really score much, but it was around then that I started to take some free-kicks.
"The wall was too close, though, so it was rare that I'd hit the goal. It wasn't until I got to France that I mastered my technique."
In total, Juninho scored 131 goals in 507 appearances for a host of clubs. The midfielder will go down in history, for sure, as the best set-piece taker of all time.
Do you agree with that statement?
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