Brazil and Real Madrid legend Roberto Carlos has opened up about arguably the most famous aspect of his game: those incredible free-kicks.
Carlos was regarded as something of a dead-ball specialist for both Los Blancos and the Selecao with one famous strike, in particular, helping the left-back earn that reputation.
It came against France back in 1997 as part of the curtain-raiser for Le Tournoi, the warm-up friendly tournament organised by the hosts, ahead of the World Cup a year later.
Struck from the centre-right channel of the pitch, some 35 metres from goal, the ball curled so much replays revealed that a ball boy standing ten yards to the right of the goal actually ducked, thinking it would hit him.
Incredibly, it curled back on target and past Fabien Barthez, who remained rooted to the spot. In the years since, it’s widely become established as perhaps the greatest free kick of all-time and fans have often wondered how Carlos pulled it off.
Speaking at the Betsafe Star Sixes 2017 event, the Brazilian opened up about the secret behind his free-kick ability and who inspired his now legendary technique.
“The secret is to train. Train everyday, half an hour forty minutes, not too much or your legs will start to feel heavy but you should train to kick the ball in all directions and this requires training every day.
“I think that the strength comes down to your own, what you have to do is train everyday and to make sure you put the ball between the posts, you can kick the ball whichever way you want to but the quality of it is down to you – so train everyday to place the ball in the right place and of course it helps to have a bit of technique.
“I’ve spent 26 years playing football, 26 years always staying on after training – we would always put the goals up and we would start hitting the ball and before you knew it half an hour, forty minutes would have passed and we would always put a bet on it, it would cost a lot, the loser would by dinner.”
Carlos also revealed the players he regarded among the greatest dead ball specialists to ever play the game as well as the free-kick taker who most influenced his own technique from that range.
“At Madrid with Beckham and Zizou, Roni, Ronaldo would also come but he’s never scored one goal against me in his life so we got rid of him. The top three are Beckham, Zidane & Diego Maradona.
“I didn’t study any of them, but I played many years with Branco, and yes I do think Branco was my teacher- he taught me how to position myself, where to put the ball, where to aim for, how to keep the quality in the kick and so that’s why I think Branco was my teacher but of course I saw Maradona take free kicks, and Beckham he’s phenomenal at free kicks and Zizou with his elegance in taking free kicks.”
Branco played alongside Carlos as part of the Brazil team that clinched the World Cup in the US back in 1994. Carlos was just starting out for the Selecao and was eager to learn more from senior players in the squad like Branco.
That tournament even saw Branco score a free-kick not all that dissimilar to the kind Carlos would be pulling off for years to come. Branco’s came in a crucial game too – Brazil’s 3-2 quarter-final win over a highly rated Holland team and it’s a hell of a strike. Not quite as good as Carlos’ of course.
Roberto Carlos was speaking exclusively to Betsafe Star Sixes. For all the odds and betting markets on England vs Brazil, please click here
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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.