Exclusive: David Luiz Opens Up on Learning His Free-Kick Technique & Days as a Number 10

Arsenal defender David Luiz is noted for having one of the best and most unique free-kick techniques in world football, and has named Brazilian stars Juninho Pernambucano and Marcelinho Carioca - both dead ball experts - as players who inspired him.

Juninho was famed for his years with Lyon, during which he was a seven-time Ligue 1 champion and played regularly in the Champions League. Marcelinho was not a big name in Europe during his career, but made his name in Brazil with Corinthians in the late 1990s.

​Arsenal centre back Luiz often strikes the ball in a particular way to give maximum movement and making it difficult for goalkeepers to accurately judge the flight of it. It is football’s equivalent of the seemingly impossible knuckleball pitch in baseball.

“I learned a lot watching clips of Juninho Pernambucano and Marcelinho Carioca – how they made the ball move and go in different directions, and how they make ball move quickly up and down,” the Gunners centre-back told 90min’s Ben Haines.

“I tried to learn this technique with a lot of training. Free-kicks are about practice, practice, practice, practice,” he explained, stressing there is no substitute for hard work and repetition.

“[The free-kick] depends on the ball, depends if it’s raining, depends on the pitch, depends on the wind, depends on the style – how you’re going to hit the ball. It depends on the goalkeeper – some like to move before [the ball is hit], some not.

“It’s about trying to improve the small details to score goals.”

It is not just in dead ball situations that Luiz is noted for the kind of technical ability not typically associated with defenders. He has a skillset like few others in his position, which was perhaps influenced by his early days as an attacking midfielder until a relatively late switch to defence.

“When I was a kid, I was not a defender. I was a ‘number 10’, until I was 16,” he revealed.

“Then I switched one year and this was the switch of my life. Maybe that was what brought me here today, to change my family’s life, to change a lot of lives, so it was the right decision when I did that.

“I was on the bench, then two defenders got injured and the coach looked to the bench, but he didn’t have any more defenders, and I said, ‘I’m a defender’. I played this tournament and became a defender, and was the best defender at the tournament.”

From that moment on, the first-team coach at his club wanted the teenage ​Luiz to focus on being a defender and gearing his development to the new role. ‘Now, you [should] continue to train as a defender and I’m going to give you an opportunity,’ Luiz recalled.

“I enjoy football. Football is not attacking and it’s not just defence, you have a lot of things around it. I enjoy trying to give my best for the team, respecting the coach’s plan. After that, with my individual skills, if I can improve the team, then, of course, I’m going to try to do it.”

David Luiz was speaking at the adidas x Arsenal MakersLab event. For more details on the adidas flagship store events visit https://www.adidas.co.uk/ldn.

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Source : 90min