Bet Slip

No Bets Added

Ranking The Best Free Kick Takers in Premier League History


1. David Beckham: Manchester United

At this point in time, there has not been a more successful free-kick taker in Premier League history than David Beckham, with the London-born winger notching up an incredible 18 goals from free-kicks throughout his time in England’s top flight.

Those 18 strikes have made him one of the most celebrated set-piece specialists in the history of the game, with Beckham also holding the joint-record for the most free-kicks scored in a single Premier League season, with 5 strikes in 2000/01. His first goal from a free-kick came in a 6-3 loss to Southampton in 1996, with Beckham lashing home a powerful effort into the roof of the net, and his final one being a sumptuous, curled effort into the far corner in a 2-1 win against Everton in the 2002/03 league campaign.

Now despite later on in his career being known more for his off-the-pitch ventures and increasingly publicised personal life, the fact that Beckham was actually a supremely talented player always seems to be forgotten – six Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups, 1 Champions League win, 1 La Liga title and a runner-up finish in the 1999 Ballon d’Or. As of September 2023, Beckham sits joint-5th with Lionel Messi on the all-time list of most free-kicks scored in football history, with 65.

2. James Ward-Prowse: Southampton & West Ham

Currently sitting second the all-time goals via free-kicks list is central midfielder James Ward-Prowse, who has totted up an astonishing 17 goals from set-pieces in his Premier League career.

Of those 17 strikes, perhaps the highlight was a quite sensational effort from all of 35 yards out against Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2022, which left goalkeeper Jose Sa completely flummoxed. A somewhat short run-up disguised a ferocious shot that while at first seemed to be going to Sa’s right, suddenly veered wildly off course to nestle in the top left corner of the goal.

Ward-Prowse’s efforts all these years while at Southampton ensure that he will go down in club folklore, but following his move to West Ham United this summer after the Saints’ relegation, he has the opportunity to carry on scoring free-kicks in the top-flight.

He is only one behind the man currently in first place, and so at the age of just 28, he has plenty of time to smash the record and make it his own, and you would certainly expect him to do so.

3. Gianfranco Zola: Chelsea

Gianfranco Zola scored a total of 12 free-kicks across a seven-year spell at Chelsea, a total that makes him the highest-scoring free-kick taker in Blues history, in addition to him jointly holding the Premier League record for most free-kicks scored by a foreign player (alongside Thierry Henry).

According to Zola himself, his proficiency from such dead-ball situations can be attributed to the late, great Diego Maradona. Maradona and Zola were teammates at Napoli during the 90's, and despite the legendary Argentinian's famously lackadaisical reputation when it came to training, the Italian has claimed that Maradona would stay behind after training to help Zola with free-kicks and other areas in which he could improve his game.

And Maradona's advice seems to have definitely worked, with Zola's 12 free-kick goals during his time in England coming alongside his sitting in 5th in the chart for Serie A's all-time goalscorers from free-kicks, with 20 to his name.

4. Ian Harte: Leeds United & Reading

Irish left-back Ian Harte, ex of Leeds United, scored an astonishing 28 goals during his time in the Premier League, with his powerful left foot making him a fearsome opponent whenever his side won a free-kick.

Harte’s 10 strikes from dead-ball situations makes him the only defender to have a place within the top 15 of the list of highest-scoring Premier League players from free-kicks, and he can rightly be considered the best free-kick taking defender in the history of the English top flight. Harte had no specific technique for his efforts like a Beckham or Ronaldo had – instead, he could cause serious damage whether his attempt went over, around or through sheer power, straight through a defending wall.

With more strikes from free-kicks to his name than the likes of Frank Lampard, Juan Mata and Christian Eriksen, alongside the fact that he achieved these feats despite being a full-back, his place in this list is rightfully deserved.

5. Cristiano Ronaldo: Manchester United

The legendary Portuguese attacker will always be remembered for his many, many different moments of genius across his long and storied career at the very highest levels of European football, and one of those moments of genius is his iconic ‘knuckleball’ free-kick against Portsmouth in 2008.

Now while the forward has never been amazingly prolific from free-kicks throughout his career, he has still scored more than 10 goals from dead-ball situations during his time in the Premier League, which makes him one of the best in the division’s history. Ronaldo was arguably the first player to popularise and really bring the dipping knuckleball style of free-kicks to the Premier League.

His aforementioned effort against Portsmouth is one of, if not, the greatest free-kick ever seen in English top-flight football, with Ronaldo managing to get the ball up and down over the Pompey wall yet still somehow managing to keep his strike perfectly straight as it sailed past a motionless David James in goal. That strike was one of 4 goals he scored from free-kicks in the 2007/08 campaign, and he repeated that feat when he scored four more goals directly from free-kicks the following season.