Who are the fastest footballers in the world?

January 02, 2018

- Grant Whittington

If there is one thing that defenders hate to contend with on the football field, it’s raw pace and acceleration.

When combined with intelligent and well-timed movements, an abundance of pace can derail even the best-laid defensive plans and ruin the reputations of the most seasoned players.

But, could you name the fastest footballers in the world? We’ll address this in the post below, and pay tribute to the players who torment defenders on a regular basis.

  1. Gareth Bale, Real Madrid

While Welsh star Gareth Bale may have struggled for form and fitness over the course of the last 18 months, it remains easy to see why Real Madrid paid a then-world record £85.3 million to secure his services.

Renowned as the man who destroyed Brazilian defender Maicon’ career during a Champions League game against Inter Milan back in 2010 (Bale plundered a hat-trick), the flying winger boasts truly incredible pace and a direct running style that makes him almost unplayable on his day.  According to a study by F.C. Pachuca, Bale is unequivocally the fastest player on the planet, having clocked a peak speed of 36.9 kilometres-per-hour (kph) during his career.

Although it has yet to be seen whether Bale’s recent injuries have a detrimental impact on his speed or acceleration, there’s no doubt that the forward is quick enough to destroy any defensive unit on his day.

  1. Orlando Berrio, Flamengo

While this rapid winger may be virtually unknown outside of Europe, he has the unique distinction of being officially the second-fastest footballer in the world.

The Colombian wide-man plies his trade for Flamengo in Brazil’s Serie A, where he is revered by fans for his raw pace and ability to commit defenders. A truly exciting player, Berrio affords his side genuine width and is exceptional in one-on-one situations, where he can use his speed to isolate defenders and reach the by-line.

Now in his late-20s, Berrio has recorded a top speed of 36 kph, placing him just behind Bale in our speedster rankings.

From a defenders perspective, your best bet is probably to foul the midfielder before he reaches top speed, or drop as deep as you can to your own goal line!

  1. Antonio Valencia, Manchester United

Now, depending on which studies you read, Manchester United’s winger-cum-right back Antonio Valencia is either the third or the fourth fastest footballer in the world. There’s certainly very little between him and the Mexican midfielder Jurgen Damm in the speed stakes, but we’ve given the nod to the Ecuadorian flyer.

Even at the age of 32, Valencia can reach a peak speed of 35.1 kph, with his lung-bursting runs down the right flank fast becoming a part of Old Trafford folklore. This is a testament to his natural fitness and athleticism, particularly when you consider that he suffered a horrific broken leg against Rangers in 2010 and was forced to undergo surgery on his ankle just two years ago.

All things considered, there’s little doubt that a peak-Valencia would be higher on our list, while the modern-day iteration may also be able to clock higher speeds were it not for a spate of injuries.

  1. Jurgen Damm

This leads us neatly on Jurgen Damm, the Mexican midfielder who currently players for the Liga MX club Tigres. A talented young player with German ancestry, he’s highly thought of by those within the game and could well represent a higher profile European club at some point in the future.

The rapid Damm boasts a peak speed of 35.2 kph, while his sprinting style includes a long stride that enables him to traverse a considerable distance in a short space of time. At full speed, he can be a formidable opponent, and one that provides significant penetration from both central and wide areas.

Damm is also a full Mexican international, and could well be deploying his searing pace on the global stage in the future. In fact, he may well be selected for Mexico’s 2018 World Cup squad, which will compete in Russia next summer.

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