Lionel Messi Breaks New Record As Top Free-kick Scorer
The little magician, technically a free agent after his Barcelona contract expired at the end of June, has always had a spectacular set-piece in his locker. He’s so inexplainably good from dead balls that there is even an urban legend going around that he dislocates his ankle with every one he strikes in order to get maximum lift and spin on the ball.
But whether that holds any truth or not, one thing is undeniable. He gets results.
And he was at his best in Argentina’s Copa America 2021 quarter-final clash Colombia, curling in a free-kick from the edge of the box in stoppage time to cap off a routine 3-0 win for his country.
The late strike sealed an impressive display from Messi – who also bagged two assists – as Argentina set up a semi-final with Colombia in Brasilia on Wednesday.
According to Opta, the free-kick goal was the 59th of Messi’s career, and nudged him ahead of long-term rival Ronaldo, who has scored a paltry 58.
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) July 4, 2021
No active player has even come close to those two. Inter’s new signing Hakan Calhanoglu comes in at third with 27 goals direct from free-kicks, while Barca’s Miralem Pjanic (26) and Inter’s Aleksander Kolarov (22) come in at fourth and fifth on the standings respectively.
Other outlets reckon that Messi’s latest strike leaves him in 11th place in the all-time standings. Brazilian duo Marcelinho Carioca and keeper Rogerio Ceni are credited at joint ninth, having scored 59 official free-kicks apiece.
Diego Maradona netted 62, David Beckham has 65, and the great Pele has 70 (though he’ll probably claim there should another 0 on there). Each of those greats are still some way short of all-time leader Juninho Pernambucano, however, who scored 77 of his 204 career goals from free-kicks.