Juninho Pernambucano's Free-Kick Record Was Just Plain Silly
In eight seasons playing for Lyon ‘the free-kick king’ Juninho Pernambucano netted an impressive 100 goals.
On top of that, a remarkable total of 44 were scored from direct free-kick strikes. Now that is what you call efficiency, folks.
To put his record into further perspective, the Brazilian scored 77 free-kicks during his 20-year career, scoring for the likes of Vasco de Gama, Al-Ghrafa and his 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 free-kicks than Andrea Pirlo, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The only person that comes close to the Lyon legend is goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, who netted 61 free-kick goals.
The former Sao Paulo man holds the record for the most direct free-kicks scored by a player with one club.
Italian legend Andrea Pirlo admitted to idolising the man from Recife, in his 2014 autobiography, ‘I Think Therefore I play’, as he wrote:
“During his time at Lyon, that man made the ball do some quite extraordinary things. 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.”
But what does he put his incredible free-kicks down to? The Brazilian spoke to Four Four Two in December about when he realised he was a free-kick specialist, and his technique.
“I started by copying free-kicks taken by Marcelinho, who played for Corinthians. 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.” he told the publication.
“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.”
He scored 131 goals in 507 appearances for a host of clubs, making a name for himself as the free-kick king.
The midfielder will go down in history, for sure, as the best set-piece taker of all time. Do you agree with me on that statement?