Liam Cullen | Porto free-kick inspired by Gylfi
Liam Cullen has revealed how the practise routine and technique of former Swansea City favourite Gylfi Sigurdsson inspired his stunning free-kick in the under-23s’ victory over Porto earlier this season.
The young striker, who has been with the Swans since he was eight, enjoyed a prolific start to the campaign with the development side, scoring 17 goals in 21 appearances.
Cullen’s exploits were rewarded in January when he signed a new contract keeping him at his boyhood club until the summer of 2022.
He also linked up with Steve Cooper’s first-team squad on a permanent basis, appearing as a late substitute against Preston and Derby the following month.
One of Cullen’s more memorable strikes of the season came courtesy of a fabulous free-kick in September’s 5-1 rout of former champions Porto in the Premier League International Cup at Landore.
Standing over the ball 25 yards from goal, the Wales Under-21 international curled a wonderful effort in off the post and beyond the dive of Porto keeper Ricardo Silva.
Eager to add more goals to his game, Cullen placed a specific focus on developing his ability from dead-ball situations heading into the campaign.
The Tenby-born striker, who also scored a free-kick from a similar distance in the development side’s pre-season victory over Barry Town United, would spend extra hours honing his skills on the training field at Fairwood.
This came after he picked the brains of under-23s' kitman Shaun Baggridge, who advised him of the routine and technique adapted by free-kick specialist Sigurdsson during his time with the Swans.
And the 21-year-old was pleased to see his hard work come to fruition against Porto, especially given the magnitude of the fixture.
“At the start of the season, I wanted to focus on being good at free-kicks because it adds goals to your game,” he said.
“I practiced a lot through pre-season and at the start of the campaign with Shaun.
“I had a lot of conversations with him about how I practiced them.
“He was telling me about how he used to help Gylfi when he was at Swansea.
“Gylfi used to place 10 balls at four different points around the penalty area and the same distance from the goal. He’d set the wall up how he thought the goalkeeper would and hit 10 from each position every day after training.
“Obviously, you see how good he is at taking set-pieces, so I started adapting that practice technique in terms of how much I did.
“Seeing the free-kick go in against a quality team like Porto after the practice I’d put into that specific technique made it one of my more pleasing goals.
“It’s a good technique to have in your game. Even if it’s just one or two goals, it all adds to your tally.”