Who is the world’s fastest soccer player? This question is debated endlessly on soccer forums all over the Internet. Unfortunately since we can’t line them all up and race them, we’ll never really know. Also one must differentiate between fastest with and fastest without the soccer ball. We don’t have an answer, but several names came up more often than not when speed was mentioned.
In any event, you can bet these players have all done some serious soccer speed training in their lifetimes.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Ronaldo is a two-footed player, allowing him to play anywhere up front: right, left or through the middle. This has enabled Ronaldo and left winger Ryan Giggs to switch wings occasionally, helping Manchester United further confuse their opponents.
Ronaldo is renowned for his superb technical ability. Besides his trademark multiple step-overs, he also developed a wide array of flicks and skills, making him one of the most feared wingers in the Premier League. His blistering pace enables him to accelerate past defenders, either down the wings or cutting into the middle, and he can strike powerful shots from outside the box as well as being adept at finishing from close-range.
Thierry Henry - Although Henry played up front as a striker during his youth, he spent his time at Monaco and Juventus playing on the wing. When Henry joined Arsenal in 1999, Wenger immediately changed this, switching Henry to his childhood position, often pairing him with Dutch veteran Dennis Bergkamp. During the 2004–05 season, Wenger switched Arsenal’s formation to 4-5-1. This change forced Henry to adapt again to fit into the Arsenal team, and he played many games as a lone striker.
Still, Henry remained Arsenal’s main offensive threat, on many occasions conjuring up spectacular goals. Wenger once said of his fellow Frenchman: “Thierry Henry could take ball in the middle of park and score a goal that no one else in the world could score.”
One of the reasons cited for Henry’s impressive play up front is his ability to calmly score from one-on-ones. This, combined with his remarkable pace, means that he can get in behind defenders regularly enough to score.
Obafemi Martins – Martins is known for his exceptional pace, powerful shots and acrobatic goal celebrations. Although relatively short, Martins has a good leap and it has been reported that he used to be very good at the long jump and high jump.
Martins is left footed; however, since joining Newcastle he has shown that he is also more than capable of scoring with both feet, and also his head. He is also a firm favorite with the fans. They even sing his name when he’s not playing.
Martins has two brothers who also play football. His elder brother, Oladipupo Olarotimi Martins, is on the books of Serbian side FK Partizan, whilst his younger brother John Abiola Martins plays football in Nigeria.
The name ‘Obafemi’ translates literally to ‘the king loves me’ in the Yoruba language.
Theo Walcott – On 19 August 2006, Walcott made his Premier League début as an Arsenal player on the first day of the 2006–07 season. He came on as a substitute after 73 minutes against Aston Villa and supplied the cross from which Gilberto Silva volleyed in the equaliser.
Walcott scored his first goal for Arsenal in the Carling Cup Final against Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on 25 February 2007, becoming the second-youngest goalscorer in a League Cup final. His eleventh minute strike was overshadowed by events later on in the match as Didier Drogba scored twice to give Chelsea a 2–1 victory and three players were dismissed following a mass brawl.
On 23 October 2007, Walcott scored his first goals at the Emirates Stadium in a Champions League match against Slavia Prague, which Arsenal won 7–0, as well as setting up a goal for Cesc Fàbregas. His second goal came from a fast run up the left wing which drew comparisons from television pundits with former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry.
David Odonkor – In 2006 he became a surprise member of the Germany national football team for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany despite never having been capped previously. He had however made a number of promising appearances in various German youth sides.
His tremendous speed caught the eye of many fans during the tournament.
On May 30, 2006, Odonkor made his debut for the Germany in a friendly match against Japan. He appeared as a substitute in the first two group games of the World Cup.
Against Poland, Odonkor displayed an excellent performance and assisted Oliver Neuville’s deciding goal in stoppage time of the second half.
He made two additional appearances as a substitute, in the quarter-final match against Argentina and in the semi-final match against Italy.
Lionel Messi - Messi also proved the ‘new Maradona’ tag was not all hype, by near-replicating both of Maradona’s most famous goals (the two against England in the 1986 World Cup) in the space of the single season.
On April 18, 2007, he scored two goals during a Copa del Rey semi-final against Getafe CF, one of which was very similar to Maradona’s famous goal against England at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, known as the Goal of the Century. The world’s sports press exploded with Maradona comparisons, and the Spanish press labeled Messi as “Messidona”.
He ran about the same distance (62 metres), beat the same number of players (six, including the goalkeeper), scored from a very similar position, and ran towards the corner flag just as Maradona did in Mexico 21 years before.
In a press conference after the game, Messi’s team-mate Deco said: “There’s no other like Leo”. Later on, in a crucial league match with Espanyol, Messi scored a goal that drew even more comparisons to Maradona’s Hand of God goal.