Who are the Smallest Footballers in History?
January 27, 2018
During previous generations, it was fair to say that young footballers were partially judged on their size and physical capabilities. Even Premier League legend Roy Keane was told at the age of 14 that he was too small to become a top-flight footballer, while French star Antoine Griezmann was rejected by numerous professional clubs due to his lightweight stature.
Modern football is increasingly fast and technical in its nature, however, and this has created a demand for diminutive and skilful players with low centres of gravity.
In this post, we’ll look at the smallest players in the global game and ask what they managed to achieve in the game:
- Elton Gomes, Al-Qadisiyah
We start with the smallest footballer on the planet, and one who currently plies his trade for Al-Qadisiyah in Saudi Arabia. A globetrotting attacking midfielder who has was born in Brazil and has played throughout Europe and the Middle East, Gomes is measured at just 1.54 metres but this has not prevented him from excelling wherever he has played.
The diminutive star has an exceptionally low centre of gravity, which allows for an elusive running technique that is difficult for even the most seasoned defenders to cope with. Gomes is also a superb dribbler, with his incredibly close control enabling him to escape from even the tightest spaces with the ball at his feet.
The player first made his name with Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti in 2007, where his constant running and unique eye for goal saw him quickly emerge as a cult favourite.
In fact, fans voted him in the club’s best side of the decade for the noughties, with his lack of physical stature adding to his legend as he continued to embarrass bigger, stronger and more experienced defenders.
- Marcin Garuch, GKS Belchatow
At just 1.55 metres tall (or five feet and one inch to you and me), Garuch is now 27 and the second shortest footballer in the world. He has represented numerous clubs during his career, with the Polish national currently plying his trade as a central midfielder for GKS Belchatow.
Despite his diminutive stature, the baby-faced Garuch has always been in demand during his career, thanks primary to his excellent range of passing and dead-ball technique. The quality of his delivery enables him to serve his forwards quickly and accurately, while he is someone who can be relied upon to settle tight and keenly-contested games.
Garuch’s consistent performances are all the more impressive given his position, with the midfield area incredibly competitive and physical in the modern age.
Fortunately, the playmaker has been able to utilise his excellent technique to overcome his lack of height and stature, while he’s not afraid engage in physical contact and boasts a mean tackle.
- Jafal Rashed Al Kuwari, formerly of Al Sadd
Next on our distinguished list is Jafal Rashed Al Kuwari, who enjoyed a successful playing career both domestically and at international level.
Best known for his tireless midfield displays for Al Sadd, he also made 51 appearances for his country before retiring in 2009. His farewell match was played out against AC Milan, and in the decade since his retirement he has represented his nation as a high profile beach footballer.
Despite being just 1.55 metres tall at his peak, Al Kuwari managed to compete consistently at the highest level and earned repute for his energetic, box-to-box style of play. He was also an exceptional leader, and this quality allowed him to captain numerous clubs and even his country on occasions.
Al Kuwari remains something of a legend in Qatari football, and is certainly one of the finest and most accomplished players to have ever emerged from the region.
The Last Word
So there we have it; the three shortest players ever to grace the game. We feel that an honourable mention should go to former River Plate starlet Daniel Villalva, who made his professional debut at just 16 and during the formative part of his career was the shortest footballer on the planet (he measured a little over 1.54 metres).
Now 25 and playing for Veracruz, he has grown to the relatively towering height of 1.58 metres, placing him well outside of the top three on our list!