Beckham, Ronaldo, Ward-Prowse & most Premier League free kick goals

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James Ward-Prowse Southampton Everton 2022-23
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A couple of Manchester United legends figure prominently on a list of dead-ball specialists that includes plenty of modern day greats

There are few greater sights in football than seeing a spectacular free kick curled over a defensive wall and into the top corner, with the Premier League fortunate enough to have been graced by many iconic performers who have perfected that art.

Manchester United legend David Beckham was always a threat over a dead-ball, for the Red Devils and England, while Cristiano Ronaldo picked up that baton when inheriting a famous No.7 shirt at Old Trafford.

All-time greats such as Thierry Henry and Gianfranco Zola made a habit of finding the target from set-pieces during their memorable stints in London at Arsenal and Chelsea, respectively.

However, it's now Southampton star James Ward-Prowse who has risen the leaderboard to challenge Beckham, moving just one back of the icon with his goal against Chelsea on February 18, 2023.

Who, though, has scored the most goals from direct free kicks in Premier League history? GOAL takes a look…

  1. David Beckham | 18 goals

    #1 David Beckham | 18 goals

    A graduate of Manchester United’s fabled Class of ‘92 and a man that sits inside the Premier League’s Hall of Fame. Won six top-flight titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League during his time at Old Trafford and will forever be remembered for his set-piece prowess. Registered his first free-kick goal against Southampton in October 1996 and his 18th against Everton in May 2003, with efforts against the likes of Liverpool, West Ham, Leeds and Manchester City recorded along the way.

  2. James Ward-Prowse | 17 goals

    #2 James Ward-Prowse | 17 goals

    A south coast native who emerged out of Southampton’s academy system to make his senior debut in October 2011. The England international midfielder has spent his entire career to date with the Saints, with over 300 appearances made in the top flight. He has been a model of consistency throughout, particularly from free kicks.

    He finished 2022 with a December 31 free kick goal against Fulham before repeating the feat on January 14, 2023, against Everton, and on February 18, 2023, against Chelsea.

  3. Cristiano Ronaldo | 12 goals

    #3 Cristiano Ronaldo | 12 goals

    There are not too many records that an iconic Portuguese forward does not hold, but he will have to go some in order to match or better Beckham in the free kick stakes. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has never been prolific over a dead-ball, despite being entrusted with set-piece duty on a regular basis by club and country. Arguably his most memorable effort in the Premier League came during a first stint at United in January 2008 when his famous knuckleball strike fizzed past a motionless David James in the Portsmouth goal.

  4. Thierry Henry | 12 goals

    #4 Thierry Henry | 12 goals

    The man who brought ‘Va va voom’ to Arsenal when arriving from Juventus in 1999 is another decorated member of the Premier League Hall of Fame. Joined the Gunners as a World Cup-winning winger, but became one of the most deadly strikers in history. The Frenchman remains the all-time top goalscorer on the red half of north London, with his record-setting haul of 228 efforts including plenty of spectacular free kicks.

  5. Gianfranco Zola | 12 goals

    #5 Gianfranco Zola | 12 goals

    Chelsea were not the force they are today when luring a diminutive Italian playmaker away from Parma in 1996. They would be starting out on that path by the time a fan favourite returned to his homeland in 2003, with many considering Zola to be the greatest player to have ever represented the Blues. He is certainly the most deadly over a free kick to have graced the turf at Stamford Bridge, with the net expected to bulge whenever he stepped up.

  6. Sebastian Larsson | 11 goals

    #6 Sebastian Larsson | 11 goals

    Started out in English football at Arsenal, making his Premier League debut in 2006, and only departed 12 years later after taking in stints at Birmingham, Sunderland and Hull City. Much of his time was spent in the top tier, with a reputation quickly established for being a serious threat from set-pieces. The Swede contributed plenty of assists from free kicks and corners, with his delivery always on point, but also found the back of the net himself on a regular basis.

  7. Laurent Robert | 11 goals

    #7 Laurent Robert | 11 goals

    A mercurial talent that followed in the footsteps of fellow French winger David Ginola at Newcastle. Could be frustrating to watch at times, as he boasted the ability to deliver much greater end product, but revelled in any opportunity to get the crowd on its feet. His CV boasts many a spectacular strike, with half of his Premier League goals for the Magpies coming from free kicks, including one stunning effort at Anfield against Liverpool in 2004 that almost took the net off.

  8. Morten Gamst Pedersen | 10 goals

    #8 Morten Gamst Pedersen | 10 goals

    Another of those that boasted a wand of a left foot, with the Norwegian winger making free kicks appear almost effortless at times. Took in over 250 Premier League appearances for Blackburn over the course of a nine-year stint at Ewood Park. One of his most memorable goals was recorded for Rovers on home soil, with the top corner found in a meeting with Wigan in November 2010 from a free-kick that was struck from miles out on the right wing.

  9. Ian Harte | 10 goals

    #9 Ian Harte | 10 goals

    While Beckham may have been the Premier League’s free-kick king in the late 1990s and around the turn of the 21st century, an Irishman at Elland Road was his heir apparent. The Leeds full-back would worry opposition goalkeepers with his powerful left-boot, but he was just as capable of looping a set-piece over a wall as he was blasting an effort through or around one. Scored 28 goals in total for the Whites in an era when defenders were not expected to be that prolific.

  10. Frank Lampard | 9 goals

    #10 Frank Lampard | 9 goals

    Always faced plenty of competition for free kick duty throughout an iconic spell at Chelsea, but the England international was capable of holding his own over a dead-ball. Was never the most cultured when it came to set-piece goals, with power more his thing, but he was one of the cleanest strikers of a ball that the Premier League has ever seen and sits sixth on the Premier League’s all-time scorer chart, while also making the top three on lists relating to appearances and assists.

  11. Nolberto Solano | 9 goals

    #11 Nolberto Solano | 9 goals

    Was a team-mate of Laurent Robert at Newcastle for several years, meaning that any opponent of the Magpies would have been wary of conceding a free kick inside their own half. The Peruvian winger took in two spells at St James’ Park, either side of a stint at Aston Villa, and also spent time in the Premier League with West Ham. A classy operator who was able to fill in at right-back if he was ever required to step back from a more natural position on the flanks.

  12. Jamie Redknapp | 9 goals

    #12 Jamie Redknapp | 9 goals

    Renowned for his passing ability and willingness to shoot from distance, the ex-England international made a name for himself across 10 years at Liverpool. He also spent time with Tottenham and Southampton, working under his father Harry at times, but saw injuries prevent him from becoming a modern-day great. Would always fancy his chances from a free kick despite being another that lined up in teams that boasted plenty of alternative options over a set-piece.