Manchester United: The 15 Fastest Players in Red Devils History

Gregory Wakeman@@gjwakemanContributor IIIMarch 7, 2013

Manchester United: The 15 Fastest Players in Red Devils History

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    Manchester United’s predilection for the 4-4-2 formation means that their history is littered with the names of fast wingers, each of whom have performed wonders on the hallowed Old Trafford turf.

    The use of pace hasn’t just been restricted to the midfield position, though. An abundance of United forwards and defenders have also shown that they have the ability to leave members of the opposition trailing in their wake too.

    But who have been the fastest players to ever adorn the Manchester United shirt?

    The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Johnny Berry, Willie Morgan and Bebe, who despite having the first touch of a refrigerator could run as fast as a Nissan, have each used their speed to devastating effect at the Theatre of Dreams, but still couldn’t muster enough acceleration to make our list.

    Here are the 15 fastest players in Red Devils history. 

15. Wayne Rooney

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Arsenal 2010

    Wayne Rooney has never been renowned for his lightning-quick pace.

    His skill, touch, vision and strength often overshadow his ability to speed past an opponent, but Wayne has constantly utilised this trait to assist United in both offensive and defensive positions.

    Against Arsenal his speed has twice played an integral role in helping United beat Arsene Wenger’s men. He assisted Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League semifinal of 2009 and then followed that up by despatching a Nani pass in the 2009/2010 Premier League campaign.

    The latter was blisteringly clinical, as he paced past two Arsenal defenders before blasting in a composed finish. It also helped fans to forget about Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid, just months earlier.

    You can view a video comparing the two above. It's a wonderful watch. 

14. Rafael

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Queens Park Rangers 2013

    Rafael has now solidified himself as Manchester United’s first-choice right-back, and he has rewarded Sir Alex Ferguson’s faith in him with a string of tremendous performances, most impressively against Queens Park Rangers, where he scored a rasping volley past Julio Cesar.

    At the age of 22, the Brazilian can only get better, and the raw pace that he originally showcased at the start of his career has now been complemented by an improved technical ability and added composure. 

13. David Bellion

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Fenerbache 2004

    David Bellion isn’t a Manchester United icon.

    He only notched four goals during his three years at the club, and if you were to ask any Red Devils fan about his skills, they probably couldn’t even recall what he looked like.

    But Bellion was fast. Really fast.

    And even though he failed to flourish at Old Trafford there was one brief moment when he shone, as he scored the sixth goal in United’ emphatic Champions League victory over Fenerbache, speeding away from the Turkish defence with ease.

    If only a certain Scouser hadn’t overshadowed him with a hat-trick. 

12. Andrei Kanchelskis

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Manchester City 1994

    The speedy Soviet was one of the most exciting players in the league during his four-year spell at Old Trafford, and United fans will forever remember his devastating hat-trick against Manchester City in November 1994.

    Two of his goals were the direct result of his pace, as he nonchalantly streaked past Terry Phelan and the rest of the City defence with aplomb.

    Andrei Kanchelskis even had the time to fluff both of his finishes, before striking the rebounds into Tony Coton’s net.

11. Gabriel Obertan

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Vfl Wolfsburg 2009

    The man with the oddest shaped head in world football never really set the Old Trafford pitch alight with his talents.

    However, there was one evening in Germany when Gabriel Obertan finally utilised the pace that had been so alluring to United’s scouts, to lead the Red Devils to victory.

    Obertan collected the ball from a Patrice Evra throw-in, drove at the Wolfsburg defence and then shimmied his way through, before laying the ball back for Michael Owen to score.

    But that was as good as it got for the Frenchman.

10. Tony Dunne

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Benfica 1968

    One of United’s finest ever full-backs, Tony Dunne made over 500 appearances for the club, but constantly lived in the shadow of Messrs’ Foulkes, Best, Law and Charlton.

    The nippy Irishman was an unsung hero of Sir Matt Busby’s squad, claiming four honours in his career, the most prized of which was the 1968 European Cup.

    Dunne played in every round as United progressed to the final, and he was tremendous as the Red Devils overcame Benfica at Wembley. 

9. Steve Coppell

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Cardiff 1975

    The quiet Liverpudlian often let his boots do the talking for him, and after claiming a starting berth in the United team during the club’s solitary season in the old second division, he never let it go.

    Steve Coppell had a clever footballing brain too, which made him seem even faster, and he constantly marauded down the right flank for eight seasons until a horrendous knee injury forced him to retire. 

8. Patrice Evra

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Barcelona 2008

    This season, Patrice Evra has shot back into form with a series of terrific displays at left-back, whilst he has also added a goal-scoring element that had been missing from his game.

    But it would take a lot for Evra to match is performances of 2008, when he was integral to United’s Champions League winning campaign, as he constantly sped up and down the left side of the Old Trafford pitch with the arrogance of the best full-back in the world.  

7. Andy Cole

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Leeds 2000

    Mostly remembered for his telepathic understanding with strike partner Dwight Yorke and his five-goal splurge against Ipswich Town, Andy Cole’s pace is often forgotten about by United fans.

    But his impressive return of 93 goals in 195 games ushered in an unprecedented era of success for the Reds, and Cole was key to these glories, especially at Elland Road in 2000, when he belted past Lucas Radebe to score the only goal of the game against United’s chief title rivals.

6. Nani

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Chelsea 2011

    The most divisive man currently on the Old Trafford roster, especially after his red card against Real Madrid, Nani continues to both excel and flounder in United’s colours.

    However, on his day, he can be as influential as any Red Devil, and his preposterous speed is uniquely coupled with a rolodex of tricks that has bamboozled many a defender.

    If only he could just be a tad more consistent.

5. George Best

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Chelsea 1970

    Maybe the greatest player to ever play for Manchester United, George Best had everything you wanted in a footballer.

    Best was skillful, strong, composed and quick, and he deployed these attributes throughout his illustrious, but short, playing career.

    There are numerous instances that involve all of these traits, but the most impressive came against Chelsea in 1970, when the Northern Irishman escaped a dangerous tackle from Ron Harris, to round the keeper and then score.

    All without bating an eyelid.

4. Javier Hernandez

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Chelsea 2011

    Chicharito is already a Manchester United icon, both in North-West England and throughout his home country of Mexico, thanks to his unerring ability to find the net whenever he is called upon.

    Javier Hernandez’s a natural finisher, but would be nothing without his pace, and against Chelsea in the title-deciding clash of the 2010/2011 season, he was able to slip behind the Blues’ backline, after just 36 seconds, to coolly finish past Petr Cech and hand United a record-breaking 19th league title.

3. Ryan Giggs

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Tottenham 1992

    Now Manchester United’s most respected and inspiring character, Ryan Giggs has turned into a holding midfield player whose distribution and accuracy is second to none.

    However, earlier in his career, Giggs was regarded as the heir apparent to George Best’s crown because of his speed and wizardry on the wing, and in the space of 18 months, against Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers, he scored two beautiful efforts through the use of his pace that were almost identical. 

    His goal against Arsenal in 1999 wasn't too bad either.

2. Antonio Valencia

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Liverpool 2012

    Antonio Valencia is currently the fastest man on Manchester United’s roster, and he often uses this attribute to terrorise defenders, get to the touchline and whip in a cross that United’s forwards look to gobble up.

    Never has this been more evident than against Liverpool earlier this season, when he sprinted to receive a loose ball, beating two of opponents who were substantially closer to it, then ran the length of the field, entered the penalty area and was only stopped when he was fouled.  

    Valencia hasn’t let a career-threatening ankle injury halt his progress, and he is now regarded as United’s most consistent winger.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Fastest Moment: vs. Arsenal 2009

    One of the finest physical specimens in world football, Cristiano Ronaldo honed and perfected his craft at Old Trafford and is now regarded as one of the best players to ever play the game.

    The Portuguese maestro continues to improve, and his astonishing speed often gives him an unfair advantage over the opposition.

    Just ask Arsenal, who, during the 2009 semifinal, were on the end of one of the most amazing counterattacks in Champions League history. Lethal.