The 20 Fastest Players in World Football: Featuring Ronaldo and Messi

Andy Gray@@TheRealAndyGrayContributor IIMarch 8, 2011

The 20 Fastest Players in World Football: Featuring Ronaldo and Messi

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 22:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona (R) duels for the ball against Christian Fernandez of Racing Santander during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Racing Santander at Camp Nou on January 22, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain.  Barcelon
    David Ramos/Getty Images

    In the modern game of football, speed and agility are among the most important qualities for a professional footballer to possess.

    It is now a regular facet to the game of the majority of the world's top strikers and wingers allowing them to take on and beat opposing defenders.

    It is not only the forward men who utilise speed these days though. Plenty of wing backs and central defenders now have impressive speed.

    This article will look at some of the nippiest players on the planet, playing in a number of different leagues around the world.

    It is worth noting that this list is in no particular order as I have unfortunately been unable to round up the 20 men on the list for individual speed testing, so I am not sure who can run the 100 metres quickest, but I'm sure they would all churn it up.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    LYON, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 22:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid (L) in action with Cesar Delgado of Lyon during the Champions League match between Lyon and Real Madrid at Stade Gerland on February 22, 2011 in Lyon, France.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Imag
    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Real Madrid's star goalscoring winger, Cristiano Ronaldo has pace to burn and despite an unusual running style, he uses it well.

    Ronaldo gallops down the wings of the Bernabeu, leaving defenders in his wake, and he has an excellent ability to keep close control of the football at top speed.

    He was Manchester United's deadliest weapon in their recent success, including the 2008 Champions League winning season when he scored 42 goals in 49 appearances.

    Since moving to Madrid though he has gone from strength to strength, scoring an unbelievable 70 goals in 75 appearances.

Obafemi Martins

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Obafemi Martins of Birmingham City breaks from Danny Simpson of Newcastle United during the Barclays Premier League match between Birmingham City and Newcastle United at St Andrews  on February 15, 2011 in Birmingham, En
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Obafemi Martins is scary quick, and the little Nigerian, currently on loan at Birmingham City, wrote himself into the club's history books when he netted the winning goal in last week's Carling Cup final at Wembley.

    Having previously graced Serie A with Inter Milan, Martins joined Newcastle where his lightning pace a bullet like shooting made him a cult hero.

    It was easy to see why Birmingham snapped him up on loan, and his boundless energy and ability to chase down long balls make him a deadly asset for a team like Blues.

Gael Clichy

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    Arsenal's premier left back has been a fixture in the side for the last five seasons and is another of Arsene Wenger's successful youth purchases.

    The Frenchman was the perfect replacement for Ashley Cole, being able to surge forward to support the Arsenal attack. He is capable of beating his man, reaching the byline and getting the ball into the box. It's just a shame Arsenal don't possess a player capable of getting on the end of them.

    Turning defence into attack is an important skill in the fast paced Premier League, and Clichy does that extremely well.

Arjen Robben

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    MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 23:  Cristian Chivu of Inter Milan competes with Arjen Robben of FC Bayern Muenchen during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Inter Milan v FC Bayern Muenchen on February 23, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo
    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    Dutchman Arjen Robben, despite his dodgy attitude, is a fantastic weapon to have in your arsenal.

    Having played for Chelsea and Real Madrid, he is now enjoying his most prolific spell at Bayern Munich where he has scored more goals in just one season than he did for either other club.

    Robben was one of the key men in Holland's run to the World Cup final last July, using his immense pace to almost nick the win for his side when he beat the offside trap to find himself one on one with Iker Casillas.

    The difference between Bayern without him and Bayern with him shows how important he can be.

Aaron Lennon

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    MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 15:   Aaron Lennon of Tottenham Hotspur beats Mario Yepes of AC Milan to set up the winning goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Febru
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    One of the two speed demons Harry Redknapp deploys down the Tottenham Hotspur wings, Aaron Lennon has been somewhat overshadowed by Gareth Bale this season, but he has played a crucial part in the club's recent success.

    You only have to look at the game between Spurs and AC Milan in the San Siro three weeks ago to see how important he can be. His explosive pace allowed him to set up the winning goal for Peter Crouch.

    The former Leeds star seems to have been around forever but is just 23. Despite his young age, he has already been to two World Cups with England, featuring in both.

Emmanuel Eboue

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    NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27:  Nile Ranger of Newcastle United competes with Emmanuel Eboue of Arsenal during the Carling Cup Fourth Round match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on October 27, 2010 in Newcastle, England.
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    You either love him or you hate him it seems.

    Arsenal's flamboyant Ivorian has had his ups and downs, becoming something of a cult hero, which considering he was once booed off the pitch on a regular basis is an impressive comeback story.

    Mainly used as a substitute these days, Eboue has the pace that allows him to enter the fray and use his energy and strength to make an impact.

    He has been deployed in a number of different positions by Arsene Wenger with the main objective seemingly to just worry defences and cause a bit of a furore in the opposing half.

Javier Hernandez

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04:  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United competes with Danny Collins of Stoke City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford on January 4, 2011 in Manchester, England.
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Little Pea or "Chichariot," as he is known in his native Mexico, stormed onto the scene at the last World Cup in South Africa when he put in a number of impressive performances.

    Manchester United will be wiping their collective brow that they managed to snap him up for what now seems like a bargain £7 million by forcing the deal through before the World Cup. Had they waited till after the tournament, the price would no doubt have been much higher, and they would have faced a lot more competition for his signature.

    The duracell bunny runs all day and is able to scare defenses with his great speed and low centre of gravity, allowing him to weave his way in and out of defenders.

    He has already scored more goals than United star Wayne Rooney this season and will surely cement himself in Old Trafford legend before long.

Ashley Cole

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19:  Ashley Cole of Chelsea controls the ball as Victor Anichebe of Everton looks on during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 4th round replay match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on February 19, 2011 in London, Engla
    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Despite his advancing years, Ashley Cole is still among the quickest players in Europe, which has seen him labeled as the best left back in the world.

    He may have had his controversies off the pitch, but there is no doubting he is a class act on the football pitch.

    He is able to get forward at the drop of a hat to help the Chelsea attack and has even pitched in with his fair share of the goals in recent years.

Quincy Owusu-Abeyie

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    RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 19:  Quincy Owusu-Abeyie of Ghana runs with the ball during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group D match between Ghana and Australia at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 19, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa.  (Photo
    Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

    Quincy has played for a number of different clubs since leaving Arsenal's academy, and his career has never really got going.

    Many managers have brought him in hoping to use his pace to worry defences, but he has yet to settle, and often his end product lets him down. Not to mention a oft mentioned poor attitude.

    Having left England for Russia at a young age, Quincy joined Birmingham City in the Championship and despite a positive start, he was shipped off six months later.

    There is still no doubting he has a number of excellent tricks at his disposal, and he has lightning pace. If he just can work on the final ball, he could still yet be a vital part of any team.

Gareth Bale

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28:  Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur runs with the ball as Dirk Kuyt of Liverpool tries to close him down during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on November 28, 2010
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Gareth Bale's career looked like it would never reach the potential it once promised, but the last year has seen a remarkable turn around.

    Bale is now one of the most sought after players in world football following an excellent season for Spurs, which includes a stunning hattrick against Inter Milan in the San Siro.

    His rather unorthodox direct running style relies solely on his pace, being able to knock the ball past his man and chase it down rather than trying to weave in and out. This allows him to cover large amounts of ground in seconds making him invaluable on the counter attack.

    He will surely be the subject of much transfer speculation in the summer, but Spurs will be desperate to hold onto the young Welshman.

Pierre Wome

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    VIGO, SPAIN - MARCH 08:  Pierre Wome of Werder Bremen in action during the UEFA Cup Round of 16, First Leg, match between Celta Vigo and Werder Bremen at the Balaidos stadium on March 8, 2007 in Vigo, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Pierre Wome has had a bit of a journeyman career, but there is no doubting his pace on the left wing.

    The versatile, skillful and pacey left back has played for 11 different clubs in his career as well making 67 appearances for his native Cameroon.

    Wome is one of a small group of players who has played in Spain, England and Italy, the three biggest leagues in world football.

Nery Castillo

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    BRIDGEVIEW, IL - AUGUST 08: Nery Castillo #10 of the Chicago Fire chases down the ball against the New York Red Bulls in an MLS match on August 8, 2010 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire and the Red Bulls tied 0-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The 26-year-old Mexican is currently plying his trade for Aris in Greece, on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk.

    Having made an impressive start to his career, impressing many European clubs during a seven-year stint at Olympiacos, his progress has somewhat stalled since moving to Ukraine.

    He has made just 12 appearances for the club since a €20 million move in 2007, spending time at five different clubs on loan, but only making a combined 23 appearances for all five.

    It is a shame that someone with such exciting speed and skill has been unable to make a bigger impact on European football.

Franck Ribery

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    MUNICH, GERMANY - AUGUST 20:  Franck Ribery of Bayern is chased by Peter Pekarik of Wolfsburg during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and VfL Wolfsburg at Allianz Arena on August 20, 2010 in Munich, Germany.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    It hasn't been a fantastic year for Franck Ribery due to some awful accusations made against him the press.

    It was not long ago that Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea were considering huge bids to bring him to their club, with him being seen as one of the best wingers around.

    The Frenchman has gone off the radar a bit this year, but there is no doubting his class.

    Ribery, like Ronaldo, is not just known for his pace but also his skill, albeit with less speed. Ribery's unpredictability makes him very dangerous to play against.

Robbie Findley

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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 09:  Robbie Findley #10 of Real Salt Lake passes against the Seattle Sounders FC on September 9, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The latest acquisition at Nottingham Forest, Robbie Findlay was a surprise inclusion in last year's USA squad for the World Cup.

    He is something of a raw talent, but there is no doubting he is a very quick, young player who could have a big future ahead of him.

    Continuously improving, Forest will be hoping Findlay's speed will help them to unlock defenses as they push for promotion to the Premier League.

    He played an important role in helping his country reach the knock out stages in the World Cup, and he is now a squad regular.

Dennis Rommedahl

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    RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 24:  Dennis Rommedahl of Denmark in action during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group E match between Denmark and Japan at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 24, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Stuart Fr
    Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    The aging Dane is still one of the quickest International wingers around.

    When playing for Charlton Athletic in England, it was rumored that Rommedahl could run the 100 metres in 10.2 seconds, which, if true, would make me one of the quickest men on earth and surely a little bit of training would allow him to compete at the Olympics.

    Despite never really settling at Charlton, he has had a good career, appearing in two World Cups

Fernando Torres

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    COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - FEBRUARY 22:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea is challenged by Mathias Zanka Jorgensen (L) and Johan Wiland of FC Copenhagen during  the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between FC Copenhagen and Chelsea at Parken Stadium
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    He may be going through a difficult period of his career, but there is no question that at his best, he is one of the most lethal goalscorers on the planet.

    Torres has a similar running style to Gareth Bale, using his speed to knock it past defenders and chase it down, allowing him to travel great distances in sort periods of time, giving himself plenty of space in which to pick his spot.

    Surely it is only a matter of time until we see Torres back to the same standards that saw him bag 65 goals in just over 80 games at Liverpool.

Thierry Henry

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    HARRISON, NJ - OCTOBER 02: Thierry Henry #14 of the New York Red Bulls controls the ball against Jimmy Conrad #12 of the Kansas City Wizards on October 2, 2010 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The Red Bulls defeated the Wizards 1-0. (Photo by Ch
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The man with a certain va va voom and je ne sais quoi.

    Thierry Henry was a unstoppable force at Arsenal where he became the club's top scorer of all time, overtaking the mercurial Ian Wright.

    Henry was best known for conjuring brilliant goals out of seemingly impossible situations, but he was also capable of using his quick feet to unravel opposition defenses.

    He may be on the decline in his older years, but he is still capable of that quick burst of pace to set him apart from the rest.

Theo Walcott

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Theo Walcott of Arsenal goes past Maxwell of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Arsenal and Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium on February 16, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Sh
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    One of the most frustrating and inconsistent players in the Premier League, Theo Walcott can quickly go from hero to zero.

    There is no doubting his class when he is on form, seen in the first leg of Arsenal's tie with Barcelona where he was outstanding, putting in a man of the match performance.

    However he is equally capable of being useless.

    It is easy to forget that Walcott is still only 21 though, and as his consistancy improves, there is no doubt he can become one of the best players around.

    His acceleration is unmatched, and he is able to turn defenders inside out and has scored some exceptional goals. It was even said that his pace over 100 metres would make him the 13th quickest sprinter in British history.

    Arsenal will miss him until he returns from injury.

Gabriel Agbonlahor

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    BLACKPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12:  Gabriel Agbonlahor of Aston Villa rounds Richard Kingson of Blackpool before scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackpool and Aston Villa at Bloomfield Road on February 12, 2011 in
    Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

    This is difficult to say due to me being a Birmingham City fan, but Gabby Agbonlahor is a pretty good player.

    He has missed a lot of the current campaign with injury, and you only have to look at Aston Villa's poor league position to see how much he has been missed.

    Villa have shown an excellent ability to get forward and score goals on the counter attack, which requires a fair amount of pace to be successful.

    This is where Agbonlahor is crucial to Villa success, able to get forward from defence to attack with relative ease.

Lionel Messi

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    MALLORCA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona duels for the ball against Ruben Gonzalez of Mallorca during the La Liga match between Mallorca and Barcelona at Iberstar Stadium on February 26, 2011 in Mallorca, Spain. Barcelona won 3-0.  (Ph
    David Ramos/Getty Images

    What is there to say about Lionel Messi that isn't already obvious!? The best footballer on the planet at the moment and probably among the best ever.

    He has exceptional acceleration, a whippet like top speed and unbelievable touch and guile make him far and away the most talented player around.

    Not only that, he has scored a quite obscene 43 goals in 39 games this season, helping Barcelona to the top of La Liga and on course for another title.

    A quick internet search will reveal countless breathtaking runs and goals that set him apart as truly one of a kind. 


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