A Comprehensive and Up-to-Date List of the Fastest Footballers Ever, as of 16th December 2023
One of the most important traits that all of the best players in history have is exceptional speed. Having the pace to burn is a perfect trait for many of the best attacking players that we have seen throughout history, as the fastest soccer players are able to easily get past their markers.
However, historically, we have seen some seemingly unfeasible feats of speed, with fans left breathless by what they have witnessed.
Measuring pace across different generations of football is often troublesome, given some of the key stats for players in years gone by aren’t readily available. However, we have assessed the numbers and stats available to compile the list of the fastest football players in history.
But which players find themselves within the rankings of the fastest soccer football player in the world?
20. Erling Haaland– 22.55577 MP/H (36.3 km/h)
There is little doubt that Erling Haaland is a goal machine, but there is more to his game than just sticking the ball in the back of the net. His speed is a trait that helps him separate himself from other number nines in the game. This is backed up by the fact that he recorded a staggering speed of 36.2 km in Manchester City’s win against Brighton earlier this season. Haaland has already exceeded that speed in the past for Borussia Dortmund, where he reached a top speed of 36.3 km/h.
The speed that he possesses ensures that he is easily able to get into scoring positions before opposing defenders and is a key factor in why he has already scored over 20 goals in the Premier League this season.
Barring any injuries in the 2022-23 season, it’s unlikely Haaland is going to score anything other than 30 goals for the reigning champions this season. While it may be unlikely that we will see another British Ballon d’Or winner anytime soon, Haaland looks a safe bet to win the prestigious award in his career.
19.Federico Valverde- 22.55577 MP/H (36.3 km/h)
Federico Valverde has quickly become one of the best central midfielders in the world for Real Madrid. The midfielder has been the man for the big occasion throughout the season for the Spanish giants, and his combative box-to-box style has quickly made him a fan favorite in the Spanish capital.
As well as being able to play in the middle of the park, Valverde plays as a winger throughout the season for Carlo Ancelotti, as Real have struggled with injury issues since the opening day.
However, he is seamlessly able to transition into the position, as his pace makes him among the quickest players at the club and an eventual contender for the fastest soccer player ever. That is backed up by the fact that he recorded a speed of 36.3 km this term, statistically making him the quickest player at the reigning champions in 2022. As well as that, Valverde also hit a super quick speed of 35.1 km/h in La Liga this term.
18. Gabriel Veron- 22.64 MP/H (36.4 km/h)
Brazilian winger Veron has emerged as a hot European talent whilst plying his trade at Porto, and he remains a devastating threat on the flanks, with his blistering acceleration and speed. Hugging the touchline like a traditional wide player, the youngster exploded onto the scene last season, with a series of unforgettable displays, as Porto enjoyed a dramatic run to the Champions League Last 16.
His impressive top speed of 36.4 km/h also singles him out as one of the most terrifyingly pacy footballers on our list. And, with youth on his side, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the youngster place higher on future iterations of this list.
17. Claudio Caniggia- 22.64 MP/H (36.4 km/h)
Many football fans would be forgiven for knowing very little about Claudio Caniggia, as the winger played around Europe throughout the 90s and early 2000s. However, one of the Argentine’s most important traits was his lightning-fast speed. Due to his pace, he was nicknamed El Hijo del Viento (Son of the Wind). While there are no official records available for the Argentinean ace, he reportedly set a blistering speed of 36.4 km/h during his career.
Caniggia played both on the wing and as an advanced number ten throughout his career and enjoyed spells at Benfica, Roma, and Atalanta. He was a mainstay for his nation throughout his career, as he represented Argentina at three different World Cups, including scoring twice at the 1990 tournament before missing out on selection in the final against West Germany due to suspension.
Caniggia is not a contender for the world’s fastest soccer player, but he’s worth a mention for his enviable speed and catchy nickname.
16. Rafael Leao- 22.68005 MP/H (36.5 km/h)
Rafael Leao is already regarded as one of the most exciting young wingers in the European game, and he has been incredibly impressive since joining AC Milan from Lille in 2019.
Leao has already played over 100 times for the Italian champions, scoring 30 goals. But, it’s his pace that sets him aside from other players in his position, as he has an excellent ability to be in the right place at the right time.
He has already set a speed of 36.5 km in his career, which already puts him among the fastest football players in the world, and he has continuously been linked with a move away from the San Siro. His pace is nothing new to European fans, as many experts have already drawn comparisons between Leao and Mbappe, given their direct nature.
Despite being so young, he has already won domestic prizes in Portugal and Italy and was named the Serie A Most Valuable Player for the 2021-22 season after helping Milan to end its eleven-year wait for a top-flight prize in Italy. The future continues to look bright for the future of Portuguese football. In a few years, Leao may be the fastest soccer player ever – watch this space.
15. Darwin Nunez Fastest Speed- 22.68005 MP/H (36.5 km/h)
There is an incredible amount of pace within the Liverpool forward line, and that is echoed by the fact that Darwin Nunez also ranks among the fastest football players in 2022.
The Uruguayan may not have reached his peak performance in the Premier League with the Reds, but he does now hold the quickest speed ever recorded in the Premier League, as he traveled over 36.5 km earlier this season.
There were rumors that the speed could have been more than 38 km, but these indications were later dispelled by the Premier League. But his record speed earlier in the campaign ensures that he remains the fastest player in the Premier League this term. Liverpool fans will be hopeful that he can continue to play a role in some of the greatest Premier League rivalries.
Nunez has already completed sprints at 36.5 km/h and 35.3 km/h in the Premier League this term.
14. Moussa Diaby- 22.692476 MP/H (36.5 km/h)
Another one of the fastest players in the Bundesliga over the past couple of years has been Moussa Diaby. His skill and speed have seen him come under increasing transfer speculation, with many of the big clubs monitoring his situation at Bayer Leverkusen.
Diaby has already hit a peak speed of 36.5 mp/h this season, and his performances on the pitch are now showing that he is adding a final product to that pacey trait.
The Frenchman has already been linked with a move to Arsenal and has impressed throughout the season for Leverkusen. To date, he has scored 28 goals in 109 games for the German side, and that form has helped earn him a spot in the French national side.
13. Sheraldo Becker – 22.723545 MP/H (36.57 km/h)
Union Berlin’s iconic frontman Sheraldo Becker is one of the paciest wingers in the Bundesliga, and Europe as a whole. His blistering speed was a large part of the reason for The Iron Ones making the top 4 last season, and achieving Champions League qualification.
Becker combines trickery with formidable speed, and registered a top seed of 36.57 km/h in early 2023, continuing his status as a nightmare for Bundesliga defences. Formidable one on one, and with a fearsome cross, Becker is one of the most feared wide men in the European game, and he make a worthy addition to our list.
12. Karim Adeyemi- 22.773254 MP/H (36.65 km/h)
Karim Adeyemi (source: Imago)
Karim Adeyemi is already a player that many of the top clubs around Europe are watching very closely, and he aims to become one of the best strikers to ever play the game. However, aside from his goalscoring abilities, his pace is something that sets him apart.
The Germany international came through the youth ranks at RB Salzburg, where he scored 27 goals in 68 games. As well as that, Adeyemi has marked speeds of 36.1 and 36.3 km/h for Dortmund in the past. That incredibly prolific record saw Dortmund make moves for the striker in the summer transfer window of 2022.
In addition to filling the very big boots Erling Haaland left behind, Adeyemi has also set a record this season as the Bundesliga’s fastest ever player, registering a speed of 36.65 km/h. Adeyemi looks to have the world at his feet, and the goals will certainly come in the Bundesliga for the forward, but does he join the ranks of the fastest soccer players today? The answer is Yes, but he’s up against some tough contenders.
11. Ousmane Dembele- 22.74219 MP/H (36.6 km/h)
Ousmane Dembele is a French forward who has risen to prominence in recent years, especially with his displays for Barcelona. The 25-year-old is widely regarded as one of the most exciting young prospects in European football and is tipped to become a future Ballon d’Or winner.
Dembele joined the Catalan giants in 2017 and has since become an important player for the team, helping it to win La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup.
He has also won multiple individual awards, including the Golden Boy Award in 2016. Dembele’s speed is a key weapon in his arsenal, and he is widely considered to be one of the fastest players in world football. According to UEFA, he has clocked speeds of up to 36.6 km/h, making him a constant threat on the counter-attack.
Dembele’s dribbling skills and clinical finishing have also been impressive, and he is expected to continue to play a crucial role for Barcelona in its pursuit of glory both domestically and in Europe.
Top 10 Fastest Ever Soccer Players In the World
10. Mykhailo Mudryk- 22.760827 MP/H (36.6 km/h)
There are few more talked about talents in the world of football (soccer) today than Mykhailo Mudryk. The Ukrainian winger caught the imagination in the Champions League earlier this season as he clocked a record speed of 36.6 km.
Despite being aged just 22, his performances have seen huge European giants such as Arsenal and Chelsea linked with blockbuster moves. However, a move to Stamford Bridge appealed most.
He is incredibly direct and runs at opposing defenders, striking fear into the backline. He has been a key part of the successful Shakhtar Donetsk team over recent seasons and has scored an impressive 12 goals in 44 games. However, it has been his performances in the Champions League this term that have got fans purring in appreciation.
In Europe, he scored three goals in six games for Shakhtar, which has led the club to demand over £80 million for its star asset from any potential suitor. However, following his move to Chelsea, he will be bidding to become one of the best stars to ever play in the Premier League. Defenders will already be shaking in their boots after seeing the Ukrainian hit speeds of 36.6 km/h and 36.66 km/h.
In 2023, he secured a spot among the top five quickest footballers in this season’s Champions League.
Despite Chelsea FC’s struggles in the league, they are still competing in the Champions League this season. It will be interesting to see if Mudryk can deliver more impressive runs like those he produced earlier in the season.
9. Jeremiha ST. Juste- 22.760827 MP/H (36.6 km/h)
Jeremiah St. Juste has carried a big reputation throughout his emerging career, and one of his biggest traits that has allowed him to take his game to the next level has been his pace.
The Dutch central defender has already completed a sprint of 36.6 km/h this season, which puts him among the fastest soccer players in the world for the 2022-23 campaign.
However, St. Juste will be looking to take his game to the next level over the coming years as he bids to break into the Netherlands senior team for the first time.
The 26-year-old has already represented his nation at U18, U19, and U21 level. His club performances have certainly caught the imagination, as Sporting Lisbon made its move for the defender in the summer of 2022, paying just over £8 million for St. Juste’s services.
8. Jeremie Frimpong- 22.760827 MP/H (36.6 km/h)
Pace is such an important factor in football today, and that is evident by the speeds recorded by full-backs in the Bundesliga. One of the fastest speeds was set by Jeremie Frimpong, who reached a top speed of 36.6 km/h when playing for Bayer Leverkusen.
While he may have some way to go before getting a mention in the same breath as some speedsters, his skill and pace are vital factors in the role that he plays for the Bundesliga giants.
Frimpong’s pace has been evident since his youth career, as he came through the ranks at Manchester City. However, after two seasons with Scottish side Celtic, he moved to Bayer Leverkusen for an undisclosed fee.
Their attacking and quick build-up play suits the full-back and his strengths, and we wouldn’t rule him out recording a quicker speed over the coming years.
7. Antonio Rüdiger– 22.80432 MP/H (36.7 km/h)
There is little doubt that there is a greater need for strikers to boast pace, but defenders could also use speed to their advantage. Regardless, it may be a shock to see Antonio Rudiger make the list of the fastest football or soccer players.
Rudiger’s performances reached new heights under the stewardship of Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, and it was during his time at Stamford Bridge that he clocked the fastest recorded time in the Premier League in 2022, according to Opta stats.
That speed was a remarkable 36.7 km and is undeniably a trait that Real Madrid liked about the German international before bringing the defender to Spain in last summer’s transfer window.
Rudiger continues to be a vitally important player for Madrid this season and is likely to play a key role if the Spanish giant is to retain its Champions League and La Liga titles.
6. Gareth Bale – 23.03 MP/H (37.1 km/h)
One of the most iconic players in the history of European football remains Gareth Bale, as few will ever forget his stunning performance in the Champions League final as Real Madrid saw off Liverpool in 2018.
Largely seen as the greatest British player of all time, Bale’s pace was something that set him aside from many younger players from a young age, as he became the fastest football player in the Premier League. Throughout his career, Bale has been quoted as hitting some ridiculous speeds, including 37.1 km/h and 34.7 km/h.
It almost seems remarkable that the winger reached a total speed of 39.9 km, which sees him easily rank as the fastest football player in history.
Speed wasn’t the only key trait in his game, as he could also strike an incredible free kick, and scored long-distance goals throughout his career before calling time on his playing days at the start of 2023. He will be forever remembered as one of the fastest football players in the Premier League, but his ability to create magic moments also added to his legacy.
5. Alphonso Davies- 23.03 MP/H (37.1 km/h)
One of the most feared speedsters in all of Europe, Bayern’s blisteringly fast Canadian full back is one of the quickest and most technically gifted players in Europe. He has played a significant role in the German giants’ successes, both domestically, and in Europe.
Davies has already set one of the quickest times in the Bundesliga, clocking a speed of 36.5 km for Bayern Munich. The defender is also among the fastest players in the Champions League, and that is evident by the speeds of 36.5 km/h and 36.51 km/h he set in the past. But this season he became the fastest player in the Champions League EVER, setting a new record with a jaw-dropping speed of 37.1 km/h!
One of the full-back’s most important traits is the pace that he possesses. His quick nature is able to change a game on its head, as he is able to pick the ball up and travel to the opposite end of the pitch without opposing defenders catching him.
4. Kylian Mbappe- 23.61 MP/H (38 km/h)
Many would be surprised to see Kylian Mbappe mentioned at number four of this list of the fastest football players in the world, as witnessing his speed is one of the awe-inspiring sights in the game.
Although Mbappe’s speed is nothing new to any football fan, his speed in the World Cup looked like an alien had landed on the pitch just to show how fast he could run. However, in the World Cup, he still ranked only sixth in terms of the fastest player in the competition, as he reached a speed of 38 km in France’s semi-final win against Morocco. Despite this, he remains one of the best strikers on the planet.
We would be hard-pressed to argue against the fact that the Frenchman is once again one of the stars of the World Cup, as he scored the first hat-trick in a final since Geoff Hurst in 1966. Mbappe ended the tournament with the Golden Boot after scoring eight, but he would likely look back at the tournament with disappointment after losing in the showpiece event.
3. Mohamed Salah- 23.97 MP/H (38.6 km/h)
Mohamed Salah is among the best strikers on the planet, but he is yet to enter the conversation as a potential Ballon d’Or winner. The Liverpool superstar has continued to grow his reputation since emerging on Merseyside, and he will arguably go down as one of the club’s greatest-ever players as well as one of the best to play in the Premier League.
Salah scored 44 goals in all competitions in his first season at the club and has since helped the Reds end their 30-year wait for a top-flight English title. The Egyptian is now in his sixth season at Anfield and has so far scored an incredible 173 goals in just 280 games.
Speed continues to be an essential part of his game, and he is rightly regarded as the fastest player in football. Recently, pundits have been saying he is a contender for the accolade of the world’s fastest soccer player. His record speed, according to Opta, in 2022 saw him reach an amazing 38.6 km. Salah continues to play a huge part in the success Liverpool achieves, and his performances will be integral if the team is to finish in a Champions League place this season. Salah has also repeatedly set speeds of 36.6 km/h and 33.9 km/h throughout his career at Anfield.
Urban Legends And Myth of Fastest Soccer Players Ever
As we mentioned at the start of the article, top speeds are hard to measure when they are on a football pitch. The ever-changing pace, the difference in length of each run, and the individual acceleration of each player make it very difficult to get the actual speed of each player.
But the football world loves stories and records that are smashed to pieces, and with top speeds, it is no different. Here are a few examples of unfounded stories that later were disapproved of or simply lacked factual evidence of their truth.
Arjen Robben- 22.9907 MP/H (36.9 km/h)
It’s difficult to dispute the legend of Arjen Robben’s incredible speed during the 2014 World Cup, where he recorded a jaw-dropping 37 km/h in a 5-1 loss to Spain. But, Robben himself has hinted at the possibility of the recorded speed being excessive, claiming that it wasn’t truly his top speed.
Regardless, his lightning-fast pace was a crucial aspect of his game, making him a nightmare for defenders with his signature move of cutting in on his left foot from the right wing.
Despite his success at Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles, and at Real Madrid, where he won La Liga, Robben is best remembered for his dominant run in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich.
He clinched eight Bundesliga titles and a Champions League victory in the 2012-13 season. Throughout his career with the Bavarians, Robben scored 144 goals in 309 appearances. He also recorded a speed of 35.7 km/h at some point in his career.
Usain Bolt- 27.775292293008828 MP/H (44.7 km/h)
An example of speed not being everything in football can be found in Usain Bolt’s professional career.
The multiple-time 100m and 200m Olympic champion played for Norwegian side Stromsgodset and Australia’s Central Coast Mariners in friendly matches. However, in January 2019, he announced that his sports career had now come to an end. The quickest speed that Bolt reached was 44.7 km/h, but that came away from the football pitch.
However, Bolt is often seen playing in Soccer Aid fixtures annually. The Jamaican sprinter has played three times, but despite playing as a striker, he has only scored on one occasion, the same number as comedian Lee Mack and Westlife’s Nicky Byrne. Speed may be everything in the professional game, but the ability to utilize the pace with an end product is something that separates speedsters from world-class players.
If Bolt was compared to any of the sprinters on our lists in a real soccer football match, he would probably struggle to keep their pace, with or without the ball.
Aaron Wan Bissaka- 23.3598286 MP/H (37.5 km/h)
Wan-Bissaka, as fast as he might seem and probably is, entered this list after it was claimed by unconfirmed sources around the web that he hit a top speed of 37.594 km/h during the match between Man United vs. West Ham in 2019.
As it might have been true, we couldn’t find any official stat that confirms these numbers. However, if these numbers were accurate, he would have entered this list as the third-fastest player.
There are fewer better defenders in world football one-on-one than Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Despite often falling short with his final ball, his pace is one of the best traits that the Manchester United full-back boasts.
Stats show that the 25-year-old has hit a top speed of 31 km/h in the Premier League this season, and that was set during a match against Crystal Palace.
Wan-Bissaka made an excellent covering tackle to ensure that United could hold on to a point against Crystal Palace, as he stopped Wilfred Zaha from stealing a win for the Eagles.
Despite his excellent ability to make recovery tackles, Wan-Bissaka’s long-term future remains up in the air. His run of form following the World Cup ensured that he was given a second opportunity by Erik ten Hag, but the former Palace right-back may be on the move again in the summer.
Ronaldo Nazario- Hard to say
There were few more exciting sights in football than watching Ronaldo go on his crazy runs for Brazil. The superstar forward is largely regarded as one of the greatest of all time, and during his first years at professional level, his pace was one of the key factors that set him apart from the crowd.
Opposing defenders couldn’t deal with his raw pace, and he first exploded to international stardom when helping Brazil reach the World Cup final in 1998 before he later became one of the youngest players to win the Ballon d’Or.
Inter Milan agreed to pay a world record fee to sign Ronaldo in 1997, and he scored 49 goals in 68 games before recurring knee injuries forced him to miss the entirety of the 2000-01 season before getting back fit in time to help Brazil win a fifth World Cup in 2002.
By the time he joined Real Madrid in 2002, his pace was diminishing, but his natural attacking instincts ensured that he remained a prolific forward. Again, no official speed was clocked, but reports have claimed that he sprinted at 21.92 km/h during the height of his powers.
José Luis San Martín, the former RM fitness trainer, once said; “Ronaldo was like Ben Johnson.” He continued, “he could do 60 meters in between 6.8 and 7.8 seconds easily.”
That is the only time that we could have found a shred of evidence of his true speed, and that came from one of his friends to the national team and club, Real Madrid.
2. Adama Traore- 23.4797532 MP/H (37.8 km/h)
There are few players in world football that have offered so much but delivered so little throughout their careers than Adam Traore.
When the former Barcelona star arrived on the scene as a teenager, there were massive expectations that the winger could one day step up in the Catalonia club’s first team and potentially fill the void left by Lionel Messi. However, his career hasn’t exactly played out as many would have hoped, as he endured disappointing spells at both Middlesbrough and Aston Villa before landing at Wolves. Therefore, he would not qualify as one of the best playmakers in the world.
His stay in the Black Country has been the most productive period in his career, and his pace remains a factor that all opposing defenders are wary of when coming up against the Spanish star.
According to Opta, the winger reached a peak speed of 37.8 km in the Premier League last season, but his final ball remains a weak part of his game. Despite his shortcomings, Traore regularly reached speeds of up to 23 km/h in the Premier League with Wolves.
At Fulham, despite not featuring as regularly as supporters might wish owing to injuries, he nonetheless managed to reach a speed of 35.55 km/h during the 2023/24 season, securing a spot on the list of the swiftest players in the EPL 2023.
Fastest Soccer Player Ever
It could be argued that there are few more important traits that a footballer can possess in the modern form of soccer than speed. No matter the position on the pitch, speed can be utilized, whether that is finding space away from opposing defenders, getting the ball up the field quickly, or moving fast to cover off possible passing lines of attacking players.
There is only one player that truly qualifies as the fastest football player ever:
1. Cristiano Ronaldo- 24.854848 MP/H (40 km/h)
However, there have been a number of players that rank highly when assessing the fastest football player in the world. The first of those is former Manchester United and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar remains one of the quickest players in the world despite being 37, as he clocked a top speed of 40 km/h in a Premier League fixture against West Ham United in the 2021-22 season.
Ronaldo’s pace was a trait that set him apart from many of the other top stars when he first emerged in the world game, and it was a key factor in Manchester United’s game plan under Sir Alex Ferguson. During Ronaldo’s first stint at the Theatre of Dreams, the club won the Premier League title on three occasions, the Champions League and EFL Cup.
However, an indicator of United’s reliance on his pace was evident in Ronaldo’s goal against Arsenal in the club’s 3-1 Champions League second-leg win in April 2019. While Ronaldo’s days of hitting a massive speed, such as 40 km/h, are behind him, he remains one of the biggest stars we have ever seen.
To answer, who is the fastest soccer player in the world – Ronaldo has it, and to be honest, we are not surprised.