It’s 13 years to the day since Shunsuke Nakamura sealed his greatest moment in a Celtic shirt. There were 80 minutes on the clock when the Japanese magician sent in a swirling free-kick that outfoxed Manchester United keeper Edwin Van Der Sar in a famous 1-0 win over the Red Devils.
The goal is arguably the most iconic Celtic strike so far this century – although Henrik Larsson may have something to say about that.
Nevertheless, Naka’s magic is looked back upon so fondly, even more than a decade later. The left-footed wizard brought a lot to Celtic whenever he played, but he is always best known for his set-piece goals.
Celtic may not have found as good a free-kick taker as Nakamura since he left in 2009 – but there have been a fair few worthy candidates for the role. Here are some of the finest free-kick goals Celtic have scored since the Japanese icon departed.
Leigh Griffiths vs Hapoel Be’er Sheva
Leigh Griffiths may have scored over a century of goals for Celtic but few of them will be better than this emphatic free-kick. It looked almost impossible for the forward to net against Hapoel Be’er Sheva – given the angle at which he stood over the ball.
His wonderful, whipped left-footed effort would’ve made Nakamura proud as it arrowed past the goalkeeper. It was an important one too. Without it, we would’ve crashed out of Champions League qualifying to the Israeli side on goal difference.
Who knows how the Brendan Rodgers regime may have shaped up had that been the case.
Virgil Van Dijk vs Hibernian
The current Liverpool star found defending up here so easy that he thought he’d turn his attention to hitting free-kicks. Van Dijk scored several terrific goals during his time at the club but this wonderful strike in a 4-0 drubbing of Hibernian is perhaps the best.
Just look at how quickly he gets the ball up and down. Not bad for a centre-back.
Odsonne Edouard vs Motherwell
Celtic’s hottest prospect Odsonne Edouard has enjoyed a fair few stunning dead-ball goals in his time at the club. Edouard doesn’t take free-kicks all too often, but when he does, they usually stay hit.
The Frenchman’s goal in a 4-1 win over Motherwell last season springs to mind. The strike gave us back our two goal cushion after an infamous Motherwell goal had reduced the deficit.
The way the ball dipped into the net off the underside of the crossbar was just perfect.
Charlie Mulgrew vs Motherwell
The Steelmen have been on the wrong end of a fair few stunning strikes over the years. Charlie Mulgrew’s in the 2011 Scottish Cup final was one such goal.
While Nakamura preferred to curl his efforts, Mulgrew went for raw power at Hampden as he put Neil Lennon’s men into an unassailable 3-0 lead. Scoring such a goal at the National Stadium is pretty special.
Anthony Stokes‘ last gasp winner at Tannadice in 2013 was pretty good, and arrived at such a pivotal time. The Irishman scored a few free-kicks in his time at the club, as did John Guidetti.
Shaun Maloney and Barry Robson also contributed a fair few although their time at the club did overlap with Nakamura’s.