There are football players who specialize in some actions for which they had a certain talent or who have focused on practicing to take said skill to a very high level. Cases such as Dennis Bergkamp’s ball control, Xabi Alonso’s long passes or Eric Cantona’s flying kicks, there are things with which certain players are identified with and even become references of the game in those particular aspects. And today we have another similar reference.
In the particular case of free kicks, there have been many specialists whose ability has led them to be recognized in the first level of world football, such as David Beckham, Juninho Pernambucano or Andrea Pirlo. Today we will talk about what for many is the best current free kick taker in the English Premier League, Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse.
Born in Portsmouth, on November 1, 1994, Ward-Prowse received much of his love for football from his father who took him to the games of the local club, Portsmouth FC, a team with whom he began to play the sport. At the age of 8, he was discovered by the scouts of Southampton FC and since then he has been a Saint, a club he has never left even on loan. It should be mentioned that there is a significant rivalry between Southampton FC and Portsmouth FC although this has never been a problem in the Ward-Prowse family.
Currently, Ward-Prowse has 253 English Premier League games with Southampton FC, which places him in the 4th position of the players with the most league appearances with this shirt and all of this while only being 26 years old. Quite possibly, at the beginning of next season he will match the one who is the best player in the history of Southampton FC, the great Matt Le Tissier, who played 270 games for the red and white club. Although the Southampton FC record is held by Jason Dodd, with 329 English Premier League appearances, it is quite possible that the Portsmouth-born player will surpass him as well.
In his long spell with Southampton FC, Ward-Prowse has experienced a carousel of emotions, from winning promotion to the English Premier League in 2012 to fighting to avoid relegation, going through some good seasons like 2015-16, where they qualified for the UEFA Europa League, led by the current manager of FC Barcelona, Ronald Koeman.
The current captain and idol of Southampton has 23 career goals in the English Premier League, of which 10 have been free kicks and this season he has scored 4 of them, indicating a tendency to improve this aspect as that he is progressing in his professional career. Furthermore, he is the only player this season in the English Premier League to have scored more than one free kick goal.
Ward-Prowse is one of those few remaining cases of players loyal to a single jersey so it is difficult for him to leave St Mary’s Stadium so Saints fans can continue to enjoy his ability and he even should receive Gareth Southgate’s call at the England national team.