Roberto Carlos and Players with the 10 Hardest Shots in Football History
This article celebrates the players with the hardest shots in football.
Men like Roberto Carlos may not be regular finishers, consistent match-winners or star players, but they are all known for their powerful shots.
It is for these men that terms such as “rocket” or “belter” were coined, but they are not just the purveyors of savage, raw power; they also knew how to get their shots on target. Many of these men became valuable weapons for their clubs and countries.
When a player’s nickname is “The Cannon” (or “O Canhao” in Portuguese), you know you are dealing with someone who can produce the kind of power that merits a spot in this list.
Like Roberto Carlos, Eder is another left-footer famed for his potent shot. He starred for Brazil during the 1982 World Cup, where his ferocious shooting offered yet another weapon in a team laced with firepower.
While that Selecao squad never succeeded in matching its immense talent with a World Cup triumph, it did manage to seal an unforgettable victory over bitter rivals Argentina.
In that fixture, Eder played his part, firing in an 11th-minute free kick which Zico touched into the goal.
If you want to witness the work of a striker who could terrorise defences and goalkeepers with the mere flex of his thigh muscles, check out a compilation video of Tony Yeboah’s finest goals.
At various points in his career, the Ghanaian was both a great scorer of goals and a scorer of great goals. In Germany, he broke records with his consistent performances in front of goal, while in England he featured regularly in Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month competition. Yeboah somehow managed to marry power and placement perfectly to predictably great effect.
Mark Lomas of ESPN described one of his goals as such: “technique and raw power bundled into a ferocious package.” It could have been a description of the man himself.
Perhaps David Hirst isn’t as illustrious a footballer as many of the others on this list, but the three-time England international is recognised by The Guardian as possessing the hardest shot in history.
The thunderbolt in question came on September 16, 1996 during a match between Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal. Hirst’s rocket, which cannoned back off the bar, was recorded at a speed of 114 mph.
The Daily Mirror suggested that if Arsenal's old stadium in Highbury stood today it would still be reverberating with the sound of Hirst’s strike.
Maybe it’s no wonder that David Seaman went a little bit off the rails following his close shave here—he probably saw his life flash before his eyes.
Like a few others on this list, German footballer Michael Tarnat was best known for the power and precision he could generate with his left foot. The former Manchester City man scored a number of magnificent goals during his career and also refined his ability to execute Carlos-esque free kicks.
Tarnat managed to perfect the technique of striking the ball hard and true before adding in a little quirk at the end. This final deviation in direction was often enough to bewitch a goalkeeper; just ask Brad Friedel, who was beaten by a Tarnat effort in 2003.
Check out this YouTube video of his savage effort against Duisburg, which is confidently titled “The most powerful goal ever."
While a vast majority of fabled free-kick takers are technical masters who aim to curl the ball into some distant corner of the net, the Brazilian Alex is part of a second school of set-piece experts.
When the former Chelsea man steps up for a free kick, you know there will be no finesse and no precision. It’s just going to be sheer power, and the goal-keeper had better start praying!
The fact he is largely two-footed also helps to keep things unpredictable. When playing for Chelsea, both Arsenal and Liverpool were burnt by his ferocious set-pieces.
The centre-back has 17 caps to his name but is not in the running for a spot in the Brazil squad for this summer’s World Cup, having been out of the international scene since 2008. He and his powerful shooting can currently be found at the Parc des Princes, where he plays for Paris Saint-Germain.
First and foremost, Ronald Koeman was an excellent defensive talent. However, like so many fine defenders, Koeman also had an extra string to his bow, an offensive quality that made him feared at the opposite end of the pitch to that which he should have been patrolling!
The Dutch international was widely celebrated for both his superb free kicks and for his excellent long-range shooting.
England fans know better than most exactly how devastating Koeman could be.
It was one of his belters that prevented the Three Lions from qualifying for the 1994 World Cup, ending the reign of Graham Taylor in the process.
Dazzling in defence but arguably even better with a dead ball at his feet.
John Arne Riise
The Fulham FC website describes 34-year-old left-back Riise as “Renowned for his unrivalled stamina and powerful shooting.” Now, we’re not so fussed about his stamina—although it’s fair to say that he has often had the fitness to dominate the left side of the pitch in contests—but we are particularly interested in the power he can muster with his left peg.
A Champions League winner with Liverpool, Riise is a fine crosser and can also be a menace from set pieces.
Reds fans will never forget his powerful late winner against Manchester United from outside the box. That particular strike clocked in at 70 mph.
On one occasion, he even broke the leg of United midfielder Alan Smith when the former Leeds man attempted to charge down a shot.
Peter Lorimer was a Scottish attacking midfielder who starred most notably for Leeds United during the club’s most successful era. He arrived at Elland Road in 1962 and remained there until 1979, when he crossed the Atlantic to play for Toronto Blizzard.
In 703 outings for the Whites, he scored 238 goals—a fine return for a midfielder. Despite the club’s reputation at the time and the expert tutelage of manager Don Revie, Lorimer and his peers only won two league titles.
With regards to his powerful shooting, it’s perhaps best if the Scot’s nicknames do the talking: Thunder Boots, Lash and Hot Shot. No wonder goalkeepers always looked a little nervous when Lorimer was in town.
Brazilian left-sider Ronny, whose full name is Ronny Heberson Furtado de Araujo, was famed for his powerful shooting. He was so characterised by his strong finishing that he earned the nickname “Homem-Bomba,” translated as the “Human Bomb.”
One of his shots was once measured at 210.9 kmph or 131.82 mph. It was a free kick scored in the 88th minute of a clash between Sporting Lisbon and Naval 1 de Maio in November 2006.
He currently turns out for Hertha BSC in the German Bundesliga.
Old Thunder Thighs may have built his free-kick-taking reputation on the back of one sweetly stuck strike rather than a consistent stream, but his powerful shooting is not quite a myth.
Beyond that remarkable effort in Le Tournoi ahead of the 1998 World Cup, he also bagged a fine effort against China in the group stage of the 2002 edition.
The Brazil left-back starred for Real Madrid during the famous “Galacticos” era, won a World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and also played in the 1998 and 2006 competitions. The former Fenerbahce man is currently the manager of Turkish side Sivasspor.
His nickname “The Bullet Man” is due to his powerful shooting. According to The Guardian his thunderbolts routinely came in at 105 mph.