Speed is perhaps one of the most important qualities that a soccer player can have to be successful; while having speed is not the only thing needed to be a good player, having it is an added advantage.
Pace gives you an advantage where you beat defenders easily with pace and even track back to help the defense in defensive situations.
There have obviously been numerous speedsters in the game of soccer across the years, but how do they rank, and who are the top 10 fastest soccer players of all time?
In no particular order, these are the fastest soccer players of all time.
1. Frank Ribery
Frenchman Frank Ribery was one of the most devastating wingers during his playing time and was one of the top five wingers in the world.
He played for some of Europe’s biggest and smallest teams, including Bayern, Fiorentina, Marseille, and Galatasaray, scoring more than a hundred goals.
At top speed, he was recorded at 30.7 km/H.
Ribery’s time at Bayern was filled with some of his best individual performances and he earned his place at number 10 here.
2. Lionel Messi
The G.O.A.T. may be bossing all stats all career long, but here he just somehow sneaks in as a twinkle toe as he is. Maybe if he was bigger and taller in size, he might not be able to peak at 32.5 km/H.
His petit size helps his speed, but he is not as fast as some other players on this list.
The Argentine’s speed comes in handy when accelerating in a counterattack or getting around a defender or goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation.
Is there a need to list what Messi has done? He’s a “Mission Complete” footballer.
Apart from being one of the fastest soccer players ever, Lionel Messi is also one of the soccer players with the most assists in history.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
If you doubted Messi’s pace, there is no way you are doubting Cristiano Ronaldo’s pace.
Arguably one of the greatest soccer players of all time, Ronaldo is equally when it comes to pace.
The Portuguese legend, at close to 40, still gives younger players a run for their money in sprints.
Everywhere he went, he wreaked havoc with his speed in England, Spain, Italy, and now in Saudi Arabia.
What made Cristiano Ronaldo’s speed impressive was that he was able to stop, beat a player and continue running — a skill known as the chop.
4. Aaron Lennon
Aaron Lennon is a retired English winger who was known for his incredible speed on the field.
Lennon’s speed was a defining characteristic of his playing style.
The former Tottenham was known for being one of the shortest players in the Premier League, but also one of the fastest.
He was said to have been recorded running as fast as 33.8 kilometers per hour in a sprint.
5. Gareth Bale
Meanwhile, Bale beats Cristiano Ronaldo hands down when it comes to speed; even the 34.7 km/hr seems too slow and inaccurate for the Welsh man.
His first damage with his weapon of mass destruction was against Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League in 2010 when he scored a hat-trick.
Perhaps one of his shows of speed force was against Barcelona in the final of the Copa Del Rey, beating Marc Batra with speed before slotting past the goalkeeper.
6. Theo Walcott
Ultimate speedster? No. Sadly, Theo Walcott (Not the current at Southampton; we mean his variant from 2006-2012), who was unstoppable in his days, isn’t anywhere near that now due to his age.
The Englishman ran down the flanks like it was nobody’s business; even Ronaldo woulda wished.
He’s known to accelerate quickly and enter full stride in a few seconds and can lose defenders in a blink.
Theo Walcott’s speed earned him a spot at the 2006 World Cup with England, and a lot was expected aplenty from him, but he didn’t deliver any thanks to his inconsistencies.
7. Gaël Clichy
Another Arsenal player who was renowned for his blistering pace was Frenchman Gaël Clichy.
As a left-backs, he possessed the ability to advance quickly to assist the attack. He was also proficient at dribbling his opponent, reaching the goal line, and crossing the ball into the box.
It would interest you to know that Gaël Clichy is it very much an active soccer player at 37. He plays for plays for Swiss Super League club Servette.
8. Kyle Walker
The pacy full-back has been one of the fastest soccer players in the world for some time now.
Kyle Walker has been officially recognized as the fastest player in the Premier League during the 2022/23 season, with a top speed of 37.31 kilometers per hour.
He has also been recognized as the fastest player in the Premier League in previous seasons.
While many might not agree, Kyle Walker deserves a spot on the list of the fastest soccer players of all time.
9. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
The Gabonese striker is widely considered to be one of the fastest soccer players in football history.
In fact, he has been rated as the fastest footballer on the planet with a pace rating of 96 in FIFA video games.
Aubameyang’s speed, finishing, and off-ball movement have made him a highly efficient striker on the field.
Additionally, he is known for his quick accelerations and turning rapidly, which allows him to be highly efficient in the game.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played for number of clubs such as, Saint-Étienne, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea.
10. Adama Traoré
Adama Traoré graduated from the Barcelona academy and has since been a threat to defenses with his pace.
Regarded as one of the fastest soccer players in the world by many, Adama Traore is also astonishingly fit and agile.
Although his pace makes him one of the fastest players currently active on the continent, he’s hardly effective in front of goal.
This may be because he’s often held back as he’s too quick to be matched speed-wise; no wonder he packs liters of baby oil around stadiums.
11. Obafemi Martins
Underrated, lethal, dependable, and incredibly fast. Those are the words used to describe Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins.
Despite his short height, he was an outstanding footballer, renowned for his exceptional speed, agility, and athleticism.
As a left-footed striker, he is quick on the ball and has a remarkable ability to move with ease. His impressive skills and mobility make him a force to be reckoned with on the field.
Obafemi Martins wasn’t just known as one of the fastest soccer players in his time. He also had the ability to hit bullet shots.
In fact, Martins’ impressive 20-yard shot during a 2-3 away win against Tottenham Hotspur on January 14th, 2007 was nothing short of remarkable.
The shot was recorded by Sky Sports at an astounding speed of 84 mph (135 km/h), unofficially earning it the title of the ninth hardest shot ever recorded in football, according to the Guardian.
12. Erling Haaland
Ask defenders in the Premier League; Haaland’s pace is a problem, the Norwegian uses his physique and long legs to his advantage, and on one on one basis, if he’s not beating you with strength, he’s using his pace.
Haaland has long legs, and this helps him cover ground and still manage to run quickly.
His strides while sprinting are hardly stoppable, and they can only become better as he approaches his peak years.
Erling Haaland is also one of the best strikers in the world and his quick speed helped him get there.
13. Arjen Robben
Arjen Robben was so sure of his speed that he created a trademark move where he beats the fullback before cutting in to curl home towards goal.
He was a menace on the flanks for Bayern Munich.
Imagine having Robben and Ribery on both flanks, and you wonder why and how Bayern Munich dominated Germany for a long time.
At some point, he was considered the fastest footballer ever, but this is one argument that will be hard to settle, especially with the next two names on the list.
14. Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies’s speed was already known before he turned 18 and even before he moved into Europe.
He was feared in the M.L.S., and his speed brought him attention.
It wasn’t going to be long before he moved to Europe with Bayern Munich terrorizing defenses alongside Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sané upfront.
It’s still a debate about who’s faster between him and Kylian Mbappé. Alphonso Davies’s speed has helped him to become one of the best fullbacks in the world.
However, fullbacks find it difficult to defend against him as he’s faster than many of them and even a lot of strikers.
15. Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry was known for his speed on the soccer field, and is widely considered to be one of the fastest soccer players of all time.
During his time at Arsenal, he was known for his blistering pace, which he used to great effect to outrun defenders and score goals.
Thierry Henry holds the record for one of the fastest top speeds ever recorded in a football, when he clocked in at 39.2 kilometres per hour back in 1998.
The Frenchman was not just one of the fastest player in the world, but was also one of the most talented and successful, with numerous awards and accolades to his name.
16. Kylian Mbappé
Obviously, we won’t omit the Frenchman from the list; what list would that be without one of the fastest players ever to have graced the planet? Mbappe is always one of the top three fastest players ever in soccer.
The only reason he’s not the fastest player on the planet is that he doesn’t run 100 meters as an athlete. His speed is feared in the Ligue 1, and many feel he’s overdue to test his pace elsewhere.
However, having played two FIFA World Cup finals, winning one and losing one, it’s hard to think he will fail to perform anywhere else.
17. Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah is undoubtedly one of the fastest soccer players of all time.
He has consistently been clocked at impressive speeds during matches and almost always makes any list on the fast soccer players.
The Egyptian’s incredible speed and agility on the field have made him a formidable opponent for defenders.
He is known for his quick acceleration and ability to change direction rapidly, allowing him to create space and outrun defenders.
18. Shaun Wright-Phillips
Shaun Wright-Phillips was considered one of the fastest players in the Premier League during his career. He was known for his pace and acceleration on the wing.
According to Bleacher Report, Wright-Phillips was ranked among the top 10 fastest players in the Premier League.
His speed stats in games like PES 5 and PES 2011 also show him having over 90 speed and acceleration.
Wright-Phillips’ speed allowed him to blow past defenders and get to balls that other players could not. He was able to use his pace to get down the wings and deliver crosses and cutbacks.
19. Ronaldo Nazário
You don’t become one of the deadliest strikers of all time without being among the fastest soccer players of all time.
R9 was known for his blistering pace and acceleration off the mark, which was also exceptional, allowing him to beat defenders.
The Brazilian legend used his speed to devastating effect when running, and was rumoured to complete a 60 metre sprint in 6.8 seconds.
20. Ousmane Dembele
Ousmane Dembélé is considered one of the best wingers in football today due to his two-footed ability, pace, and dribbling skills.
After leaving Barcelona and joining PSG this past summer at age 26, the talented French forward still has much more to offer if he can stay healthy.
Dembélé’s technical prowess, speed, and agility make him a versatile winger capable of playing on either flank. His ambidextrous style allows him to outwit defenders and excel in one-on-one scenarios.
There is no doubt that Ousmane Dembele is one of the fastest soccer players of all time.
Here are other soccer players who deserve notable mentions for being one of the fastest soccer players of all time:
- Vinicius Jr.
- Ashley Cole
- Antonio Valencia
- Jordi Alba
- Jeremiah St. Juste
- Sheraldo Becker
- Karim Adeyemi