"I always practise (free kicks), every day. I prefer to kick with the outside of my foot. There's no secret, it's much more (a question of) concentration."
--Roberto Carlos on the art of free kick taking
When Roberto Carlos burst onto the European football scene at Inter Milan from Palmeiras, coach Roy Hodgson played him as a left winger, otherwise known as an attacking left midfielder with the license to move forward and score goals like a striker. Carlos was assigned the left winger position because of his extreme pace and ability to backtrack as necessary. He disliked the winger position because he wanted to see more of the pitch ahead of him, and accordingly, Inter played him as a left midfielder. Even after Inter tagged Carlos as a left midfielder, the conversation between the player and coach continued about his optimal positioning on the pitch. Roberto Carlos resisted the left midfield position as well so Inter ultimately played him as a left fullback. The Brazilian wanted to race up and down the left flank and enjoy the freedom to shift from defense into attack as the game dictated. Carlos not only settled into the left fullback, but he went on to redefine it completely over the next ten years by becoming the best left fullback in the history of football. Also known for his powerful free kicks, swerving corner kicks and long range strikes on goal, Roberto Carlos enriched a decades long Brazilian tradition of samba flair from the dead ball that dates back to Rivelino, Eder, Zico, Branco, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho.
While Roberto Carlos is perhaps best known for his thunderous free kicks, he set new standards for athletic excellence in football more generally. With legs like tree trunks that he acquired from a childhood spent assisting his family haul farming and textile equipment in Cordeirpolis, Carlos is famous for his phenomenal speed and physical strength. From 1996 to 2007, Roberto Carlos played a whopping 584 games for Real Madrid, scoring 71 goals and even more assists. 370 out of the 584 games were Spanish league games in which he scored 47 goals from his left back position. As one of eight players to play in more than 100 champions league matches, Roberto Carlos joins a elite group of Champions League veterans featuring Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Paulo Maldini, Gary Neville, Raul Gonzalez and Ryan Giggs. A tireless worker with explosive pace, Carlos was feared by defenders and strikers alike given his capacity to sprint at speeds where he could cover 100 meters in less than 11 seconds. At the international level, Carlos was surprisingly left out of the 1994 World Cup squad in favor of Leonardo, but he dominated the left back position in 1998 and 2002, combining powerfully with Rivaldo on the left flank and complementing the brilliance of Cafu, the team's right fullback. Carlos earned 125 international caps for Brazil in a distinguished international career featuring a World Cup Winners Medal in 2002 and two Copa America titles for Brazil in 1997 and 1999.
After 11 years at Real Madrid, Roberto Carlos enjoyed a brief stint at Fenerbahce before returning to Corinthians in Brazil where he was voted the best left back in Brazil's Serie A. Carlos enjoyed success at Corinthians alongside his teammate Ronaldo, narrowly missing out on the 2010 Brazil Serie A title to Muricy Ramalho's Fluminense in the final games. Carlos also scored an amazing "Olympic Goal" from a corner kick while at Corinthians, the first ever in his career. He recently decided to leave Corinthians after a two year spell in the wake of fan harassment in February 2011 following the club's elimination from the Copa Libertadores. The 37 year old left back from Sao Paulo has decided to follow the money trail by accepting a lucrative offer at the Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, the club owned by the Russian senator and metals and oils magnate Suleiman Kerimov.