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Take your game to the next level: Roberto Carlos on the art of crossing

Learn from one of the all-time masters as the Real Madrid and Brazil great shares his crossing tips.

As part of the Take Your Game to the Next Level series in association with Gatorade, Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos demonstrates how to master the perfect cross.
Roberto Carlos on crossing

"Assisting feels just like scoring," says Roberto Carlos, as the former left-back reflects on one of his core strengths as a player. "Getting the ball to the striker and giving him the chance to score is very important for the team."

A three-time UEFA Champions League winner with Real Madrid, Roberto Carlos scored some superb goals in his time, but took just as much pleasure in supplying killer balls for team-mates. The evolution of full-backs into attack-minded players has been one of the big stylistic changes of the modern era, and it was one he embraced.

Five Roberto Carlos crackers
Five Roberto Carlos crackers

"The role of the modern-day left-back involves not only playing in crosses but also scoring goals and being the surprise element in the game," the 48-year-old explains. "Of course, at Real Madrid, one of the most important things for my position, because we had great forwards in the team, was to run down the wing and get crosses in and play the ball on the great forwards' heads or to their feet."

Superb at reading the game, Roberto Carlos tended to know exactly how he was going to be the "surprise element" as soon as he had taken the ball out of his own half. "I would either play it to a forward or play a one-two with a midfielder and then centre the ball," he says. "Whenever I had the chance to cross, I always did so as quickly as possible."

The most famous assist of Roberto Carlos's career shows his improvisatory art, the Brazilian's pass to Zinédine Zidane in the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League being met with a stunning first-time finish.

Zidane's 2002 Champions League final volley from every angle
Zidane's 2002 Champions League final volley from every angle

"I was sprinting at full speed when [Santiago] Solari passed the ball to me," he remembers. "The ball was bouncing, and I saw a player wearing white in my peripheral vision ready to finish it off. My pass was perfect and if it hadn't been perfect then Zidane would have had to stop and control the ball. It was one of, if not the most beautiful goal in the Champions League."

As he looked to pick out the likes of Raúl González, Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Davor Šuker, the crucial thing was to aim for the danger areas. "If it goes to the centre of the box, the defender will normally clear it," he explains. "[Crosses to] the near post or far post or in between the defenders and the goalkeeper are the spots they have difficulty with. It will either be an own goal, or your forward will anticipate it and put the ball in the back of the net."