For those of you who don't know, in soccer, a free kick is given after someone is fouled. When a player if fouled close enough to the goal, the team is given a unique oppritunity to score from a dead ball. It's the only time when the only thing that seperates the ball from the back of the net is a small wall and the goalkeeper.
However, taking the free kick is no easy task. A free kick taker needs composure, strength, poise, athleticism and skill to achieve his goal. Free kicks are an art. Few are given the gift.
There are several soccer players today who are considered to be the top class free kick takers of the world. But who gets the honor of the best free kick taker in the game?
Some say Christiano Ronaldo. After ANOTHER free kick goal last weekend, C Ronaldo looks to be ranked among the greatest of all time. Whenever Man U is fouled anywhere near the box, one has come to expect that Christiano Ronaldo is going to score. He doesn't even surprise himself anymore.
Others say Roberto Carlos. His banana free kick in the 1998 World Cup ranks among the most surprising of all time in my book. The arc the balls follows to go around the wall and off the post and into the net is simply amazing.
Still others David Beckham. His free kick against Greece is probably the defining moment in his national team career. He was known to be a dangerous free kick taker with Manchester United, Real Madrid, and has even scored off a free kick for the LA Galaxy.
Possibly Jose Manuel Rey. Who? Watch this clip and find out for yourself. This is easily the most stunning free kick I have ever seen. I'm not going to spoil it, though. See for yourself.
Or is it Juninho? The free kick master of Lyon could thread a needle with a soccer ball from 35 yards away if he really felt like it. He is, after all, known as the "Free Kick Master"
All of these men are fantastic free kick takers, but in my perspective there is only one real answer: Shunsuke Nakamura.
Naka, Celtic's Japanesse sensation since 2005, has been one of the most effective and complete free kick takers in the game. Composure? He's got it. He's got the ability to take the shot in the most important stage of the game. He's scored off free kicks in the most important, essential parts of the game, whether that be in the final Scottish Premier League game of the year, ensuring Celtic's place as Champions of the SPL, or in the Champions League, in the 87th minute, putting Celtic ahead of Manchester United and sending Celtic Park into a frenzy.
No matter where the ball is, Nakamura is a threat. He can score from anywhere on the pitch and change the entire mood of the game in seconds singlehandedly.
Naka is the best in the world right now. Notice something though. When you watch all those clips of Naka's goals, notice the score (it's usually tied) and the time (all after the 80th minute) and you'll see that Naka can come through for Celtic in the most oppritune and fitting times and finishes the only way he can.
Disagree? I'm not surprised.