One of the most important traits that all of the best players in history have been able to boast is that of 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 football players are able to easily get past their markers.
However, throughout history we have seen some remarkable feats of speed, with fans having their breath taken away 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 isn’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 football player in history?
20. Kamaldeen Sulemana- 22.18295 MP/H
We start off with a representative from Ligue 1, a somewhat anonymous player in global standards before the world cup. Now is a name that every football fan should know.
Ghana were unfortunately unable to better their previous best showing at the World Cup, as they were dumped out of the competition in the group stage following defeat against Uruguay on matchday three. However, there were a number of star performers for the Black Stars in Qatar, including Kamaldeen Sulemana.
The 20-year-old has been a key player at domestic level for Rennes since joining the French side in 2021, and he was handed a first international call-up in 2020.
Sulemana is yet to truly break into the Ghana team, as he was forced to play bit part roles from the bench throughout the World Cup. However, that didn’t stop him from clocking the fastest time of 35.69km in a group stage defeat against Uruguay in Qatar.
19. Theo Hernandez- 22.30723 MP/H
Quick full-backs have become a pillar of the modern game, which means that it is no surprise that a left-back features among the fastest football players 2022. The 25-year-old has been with AC Milan since leaving Real Madrid in 2019, and he has quickly become one of the most successful full-backs in the domestic and international game.
Hernandez ranks highly among the fastest players in the Champions League this season, having clocked an average speed of 35.7km in the group stages.
The Frenchman has already played prominent roles in successful teams throughout his career, having won the Champions League with Real Madrid and the Serie A title with AC Milan. Hernandez’s speed continues to be a huge point of his game, as he hit 35.9 km/h in the league this term.
18. Kylian Mbappe- 22.3694 MP/H- Fastest Player of World Cup 2022
Many would be surprised to see Kylian Mbappe mentioned so far down in 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 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 at the competition, as he reached a speed of 25.19km in France’s semi-final win against Morocco. Despite this, he remains one of the best strikers on the planet.
It would be hard-pressed to argue against the fact that the Frenchman was 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.
17. Karim Adeyemi- 22.4315 MP/H
Karim Adeyemi is already a player that many of the top clubs around Europe are watching very closely, and he will be aiming 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 striker has already recorded one of the fastest times in the Bundesliga in 2022, as he clocked a speed of 36.1km for Borussia Dortmund. The Germany international came through the youth ranks at RB Salzburg, where he cored 27 goals in 68 games. As well as that, Adeyemi has also clocked a speed of 35.53 km/h this season for Dortmund.
That incredibly prolific record saw Dortmund may their move for the striker in the summer transfer window of 2022.
He is still finding his fight with Dortmund, but he has scored twice in 18 games across all competitions. Adeyemi is already a full German international, as he made his debut in September 2022, scoring in a 6-0 win against Armenia. He already looks to have the world at his feet, and the goals will certainly come in the Bundesliga for the forward.
16. Erling Haaland– 22.55577 MP/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, and that is backed up by the fact that he recorded a staggering speed of 36.2km 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 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 see another British Ballon d’Or winner anytime soon, Haaland looks a safe bet to win the prestigious award in his career.
15. Federico Valverde- 22.55577 MP/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 favourite in the Spanish capital. As well as being able to play in the middle of the park,
Valverde has also played 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. That is backed up by the fact that he recorded a speed of 36.3km 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.
14. Claudio Caniggia- 22.64 MP/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 36.43 km/h during his career.
Caniggia played both on the wing and an advanced number ten throughout his career, and enjoyed spells at Benfica, Roma and Atalanta. He was a main stay 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.
13. Rafael Leao- 22.68005 MP/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.
He has already played over 100 times for the Italian champions, scoring 30 goals. But, it is 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 36.5km in his career, which already puts him among the fastest football players in the world, and he has continuously being linked with a move away from the San Siro.
His pace is nothing new to European fans, as many experts have already drew 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 their eleven-year wait for a top-flight prize in Italy. The future continues to look bright for the future of Portuguese football.
12. Darwin Nunez Fastest Speed- 22.68005 MP/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 travelled over 37km earlier this season.
There were rumours that the speed could have been more than 38km, but these indications were later dis-spelled 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. But, 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.
11. Alphonso Davies- 22.692476 MP/H
Alphonso Davies has been one of the most important players for club and country throughout his career. He is regarded as the most technically gifted Canadian player of this generation, and has played a significant role in Bayern Munich success both domestically and on the continent since arriving in Europe. 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. Davies has already set one of the quickest times in the Bundesliga this term, as he clocked a speed of 36.2km 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 has set this season.
Top 10 Fastest Ever Football Players In the World
10. Moussa Diaby- 22.692476 MP/H
Another one of the fastest players in the Bundesliga over the past couple of years has been Moussa Diaby. That has 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 22.6 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 himself a spot in the French national side.
9. Mohamed Salah- 22.74219 MP/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. His record speed, according to Opta, in 2022 saw him reach an amazing 36.6km. Salah continues to play a huge part in the success Liverpool achieves, and his performances will be integral if they are 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.
8. Ousmane Dembele- 22.74219 MP/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 he has been 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 them 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 their pursuit of glory both domestically and in Europe.
7. Mykhailo Mudryk- 22.760827 MP/H
There are few more talked about talents in the world of football today than Mykhailo Mudryk. The Ukrainian winger caught the imagination in the Champions League earlier this season as he clocked a record speed of 36.6km.
His performances, despite being aged just 22 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 success 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 Europe, he scored three goals in six games for Shakhtar, which has led the club to demanding over £80 million for their 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 Ukranian hit speeds of 36.6 km/h and 36.63 km/h.
6. Jeremiha ST. Juste- 22.760827 MP/H
Jeremiah St. Juste has carried a big reputation throughout his emerging his career, and one 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 22.76 mph this season, which puts him among the fastest football 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 their move for the defender in the summer of 2022, paying just over £8 million for St. Juste’s services.
5. Jeremie Frimpong- 22.760827 MP/H
Pace is such an important role 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 km/h when playing for Bayer Leverkusen.
While he may have some way to go before being mentioned in the same breath as some speedsters, his pace is certainly a key factor 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.
4. Antonio Rudiger– 22.80432 MP/H
There is little doubt that there is a greater need for striker to boast pace, but defenders could also use speed to their advantage. Regardless, it may be a slight shock to see Antonio Rudiger make the list for the fastest football 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 36.7km, 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 giants are to retain their Champions League and La Liga titles.
3. Gareth Bale – 23.03 MP/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 at 36.9 km/h, and 34.7 km/h.
It almost seems remarkable that the winger reached a total speed of 39.9km, which sees him easily rank as the fastest football player in history.
Speed wasn’t the only key traits 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 player in the Premier League, but his ability to create magic moments also added to his legacy.
Urban Legends And Myth of Fastest Footballer 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 makes it very difficult to get the actual speed of each player.
But the football world loves stories and records that are being 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
It’s difficult to dispute the tale 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
An example of speed not being everything in football can be found by 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, he announced in January 2019, he announced that his sports career has now come to an end. The quickest speed that Bolt reached was 44.7 km/h but that came away from the football pitch.
But, 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 utilise the pace with an end product is something that separates speedsters from world-class players.
If Bolt had been compared to any of the sprinters on our lists in a real football match, he would probably struggle to keep their pace, with or without the ball.
Aaron Wan Bissaka- 23.3598286 MP/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 at one-vs-ones 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 that 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 metres 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
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 wasn’t able to become one of the best playmakers in the world.
His stay in the Black Country has been the best period of 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 36.6km in the Premier League last term, but his final ball remains a weak part of his game. Despite his shortcoming, Traore regularly reaches speeds of up to 23 km/h in the Premier League with Wolves.
Fastest Football player Ever
It could be argued that there are few more important traits that a footballer can posses in the modern form of football than speed. No matter of the position on the pitch, speed can be utilised. 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.
One of this players is no other than:
1. Cristiano Ronaldo- 24.854848 MP/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 20.2 mph in a Premier League fixture against West Ham United in the 2021-22 season.
Ronaldo’s pace was a trait that set himself 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 to 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 of the biggest stars we have ever seen.