Top 20 fastest soccer players of all time: Who ranks top in 2024?

What makes soccer players like Haaland or Mbappe great on the field? If you answered speed, you would be correct. In soccer, speed isn’t just about running fast.

Speed helps soccer players find space away from opposing defenders, cut off attacking players’ potential passing routes, and quickly bring the ball up the pitch. 

However, some footballers have incredible speed, leaving viewers breathless with what they have seen. These fastest football players can run at full pace throughout the game.

Additionally, these footballers can run while dribbling and have great off-ball movements on offence. Here is a list of the fastest soccer players of all time in descending order.

1. Micky van de Ven- 37.38 km/h

Micky van de Ven became the fastest football player in the world after his 3-2 victory over Brentford
Micky van de Ven became the fastest football player in the world after his 3-2 victory over Brentford. Image: X/TalkTHFC__

According to the Premier League, Micky van de Ven became the fastest football player in the world after his dart in Tottenham’s 3-2 victory over Brentford. The Tottenham’s defender tracked down and effortlessly tackled Dominic Calvert-Lewin to prevent him from scoring.

Let’s compare his top speed with sprint star Usain Bolt to understand how fast he is.

When the latter set the world record for the 100m speed in 2009, his average speed was 37.58 km/h. That means Micky, with 37.38 km/h, could defeat the sprinter in his prime.

2. Kyle Walker- 37.31 km/h

Kyle Walker's speed is attributed to genetics and thorough training from his high school coach
Kyle Walker’s speed is attributed to genetics and thorough training from his high school coach. Image: X/Ianofficial66

Some of the fastest soccer players of all time have defied all odds despite their advanced age. Kyle is so fast for a 33-year-old that the media frequently asks him whether he is faster than Haaland.

The English footballer attributes his fast speed to genetics and thorough training from his high school coach. His coach would train him every Thursday for his 100-meter sprint in Sheffield.

His coach told him to keep his head down for 30 meters while running. This allows him to relax during his games.

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3. Antonio Rudiger- 36.7 km/h

Antonio Rudiger is a Real Madrid player
Antonio Rudiger is a Real Madrid player. Image: X/pubitysport

You likely noticed his bizarre sprinting style if you watched Germany against Japan during the 2022 World Cup.

In this match, the German national kept leaping forward with his knees and occasionally kicking the air. Since then, he has adopted this technique as the current Real Madrid player.

Unfortunately, Germany lost to Japan 2-1. Some fans attributed the loss to his slowing down later in the game.

4. Pedro Neto- 36.86 km/h

Pedro Neto is a Portuguese footballer
Pedro Neto is a Portuguese footballer. Image: X/DeadlineDayLive

Pedro is a Portuguese footballer who can control his speed when making crosses into the box. His passing accuracy made the Wolves play well in Raul Jimenez’s absence.

Before his knee injury around 2020-21, he could run at least 5 meters with the ball. This speed is usually possible after other players have created some space.

Luckily, he always relies on his impressive carry distance of 6,922 m if there’s no space.

5. Karim Adeyemi- 36.65 km/h

Karim Adeyemi dribbles past opponents on the flank as he aims towards the goal.
Karim Adeyemi dribbles past opponents on the flank as he aims towards the goal. Image: X/VIBEZ_LFC

Karim’s quick dribbling style is similar to Paulo Dybala’s. Both dribble past opponents on the flank as they aim towards the goal.

They are also left-footed, enabling them to cut inside onto their stronger foot and provide accurate crosses from the left flank.

Karim Adeyemi is another player Usain Bolt would have trouble defeating. He clocked 3.60 seconds in a 30-meter sprint, while the Jamaican sprinter measured 3.78 seconds for the first 30 meters.

6. Mykhailo Mudryk- 36.63 km/h

Mykhailo Mudryk is a right-footed player
Mykhailo Mudryk is a right-footed player. Image: X/ChelseaInPhotos

Mudryk’s fastest run in football was apparent during his debut on Chelsea against Liverpool in 2023.

He was so fast for Liverpool right-back James Milner that the latter made a late tackle, which resulted in getting a yellow card.

Mudryk is a right-footed player who uses his speed and left foot to his advantage. When he moves fast, he stands his opponent, which allows him to knock the ball either way and dart it away from him.

He often does that down the touchline by passing the ball to his left foot, a direction his opponents usually find unexpected.

7. Anthony Gordon- 36.61 km/h

Anthony Gordon is among the fastest soccer players of all time
Anthony Gordon is among the fastest soccer players of all time. Image: X/jeppe_skov_

Anthony Gordon is among the fastest soccer players of all time. His height enables him to win headers and outjump opponents, both offensively and defensively.

Besides being fast, his average carry distance is 13.6 meters. This long-distance enables him to quickly break through defensive barriers and cover more ground.

His long carry distance in one-to-one situations enables him to exploit spaces and deliver accurate passes.

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8. Mohamed Salah-36.6 km/h

Mohamed Salah plays as a winger on the right flank
Mohamed Salah plays as a winger on the right flank. Image: X/LFC_Zak7

According to Liverpool FC, Mohamed Salah is the fastest footballer in the club in the 2023-2024 season.

Salah plays as a winger on the right flank, where his speed is necessary. His position enables him to cut into the centre and either shoot or play quick exchanges with other players.

This technique usually makes him run behind the defence toward the goal.

When Mohamed joined Liverpool, Jürgen Klopp made him play for all central positions as a main striker. This move aimed to make him play closer to the goal.

Once near the goal, he usually runs towards it while skillfully dribbling the ball to avoid losing control.

9. Ousmane Dembele- 36.6 km/h

Ousmane Dembele is fast  with his feet and  head
Ousmane Dembele is fast with his feet and head. Image: Instagram/OusmaneDembélé

Ousmane Dembele is faster than most full-back and centre-back players in La Liga, which is advantageous for him.

Whenever he stays wide with the ball, he drops back to the halfway line, facing his opponents head-on.

Ousmane is fast not only with his feet but also with his head. Before making a hasty move, he usually scans around him for opportunities to pass or cut inside. When he cannot find a space, he usually runs forward.

10. Sheraldo Becker- 36.57 km/h

Sheraldo Becker always creates pockets of space by pulling defenders out of position.
Sheraldo Becker always creates pockets of space by pulling defenders out of position. Image: X/EvertonBlueArmy

Becker’s speed has always posed a threat to his opponents in several ways. For instance, he isn’t afraid to make crosses during one-on-one encounters.

Furthermore, he is skilled in neutralizing his opponents’ defence using wide-field areas, especially near the touchlines. He always creates pockets of space by pulling defenders out of position.

It makes sense because opponents usually mark a fast player to cover defensive vulnerabilities and prevent counterattacks.

11. Darwin Nunez- 36.53km/h

Darwin Nunez is a center forward.
Darwin Nunez is a centre forward. Image: X/LFCVine

Darwin Nunez has great finishes, which makes him exciting to watch. As a centre forward, he stays high up the pitch, where he can pin opposition centre-backs.

After that, he runs across the opposition’s back line to attack the near post.

Sometimes, the Uruguayan footballer who plays for Liverpool FC makes direct runs in behind, which is risky. Fortunately, he has a tall frame (6’2) and upper-body strength, enabling him to overpower center-backs.

12. Moussa Diaby- 36.52 km/h

Moussa Diaby's  movements depend on whether or not he has the ball
Moussa Diaby’s movements depend on whether or not he has the ball. Image: X/90minFR

Moussa uses his speed to exploit spaces in and around the opposition’s goal. He will strike the ball as long as it comes inside the box.

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Some footballers depend on their opponents to create spaces, but Moussa has learned how to create them without depending on anybody.

Diaby’s movements depend on whether or not he has the ball. He normally plays through the inside right channel when he gets the ball.

Without the ball, he stays on the wings, so defenders stay out of position to create space.

13. Rafael Leao- 36.5 km/h

Rafael Leao overtakes players one-on-one after driving from deep
Rafael Leao overtakes players one-on-one after driving from deep. Image: X/ortasahahaber

Rafael has often been nicknamed “the Portuguese Mbappe.” The nickname stems from his ability to sprint so far that his opponents are strides behind.

Also, like Mbappe, he has silky dribbling skills that give him an advantage over a defender.

As a professional dribbler, he overtakes players one-on-one after driving from deep. Once around the box with his opponents, he manoeuvres and changes to his top speed.

His speed usually attracts many defenders, creating enough space for the rest of his team to run to the goal and score.

14. Achraf Hakimi- 36.49 km/h

Achraf Hakimi  is among the fastest soccer players of all time.
Achraf Hakimi is among the fastest soccer players of all time. Image: Instagram/Achraf Hakimi

Achraf Hakimi is among the fastest soccer players of all time. His ball-carrying is particularly good when he runs deep on the pitch.

Being on the pitch enables him to win the ball back in the right-back position, where his opponents dash towards him.

This often leaves enough space for him to glide through and collect strikes into the bottom left.

15. Federico Valverde- 36.3 km/h

Federico Valverde  is a box-to-box midfielder.
Federico Valverde is a box-to-box midfielder. Image: X/SofascoreLA

Federico Valverde is a box-to-box midfielder who attacks and defends. Speed is necessary for catching up to your opponents, something Federico does.

If he plays against a team with three forwards, the latter will have difficulty outrunning him. That is due to his ability to make a penetrative run through channels the forwards create.

16. Erling Haaland- 36.22 km/h

Erling Haaland has a  top speed of  36.22 Km/h
Erling Haaland has a top speed of 36.22 Km/h. Image: X/WhoScored

Not only is Haaland fast, but also tall at 6’4. Thanks to his height, he usually takes strides large enough to catch up with his opponents with significant head-starts.

Additionally, he is always on the move, so players with weak stamina will struggle to keep up with him. Haaland’s top speed of 36.22 Km/h enables him to make small, sharp movements whenever he is about to score.

Whenever opponents approach behind him, he changes the line on which he is running into another. This technique gives little chance for defenders to react.

17. Nuno Tavares- 36.2 km/h

Nuno Tavares is the fastest Arsenal player
Nuno Tavares is the fastest Arsenal player. Image: X/nunotavares20fans

Some Arsenal fans think Bukayo Saya or Gabriel Martinelli are the fastest footballers at the club. Shockingly, Gabriel Martinelli revealed that Nuno is the club’s fastest player.

Nuno’s fast pace has enabled him to overlap on the left flank and deliver dangerous crosses. However, he was sent off on loan severally so Arsenal weren’t able to use his pace to their advantage.

18. Dennis Zakaria- 36.09 km/h

Dennis Zakaria is a central midfielder
Dennis Zakaria is a central midfielder. Image: X/CFCNewsReport

Dennis demonstrates speed and aggressiveness in his matches. Although he is fast, he usually remains composed enough to make accurate passes and surge forward runs from midfield.

His lightning-paced speed has seen him play as a central midfielder despite being a defensive midfielder.

As a central midfielder, he enjoys control of the game. He can dictate the flow of play by initiating attacks and distributing the ball.

19. Kylian Mbappe- 36.08 km/h

Kylian Mbappé usually sprints.
Kylian Mbappé usually sprints when he can, making things happen on the pitch. Image: Instagram/k.mbappe

Kylian Mbappe’s top speed in km/h is 36.08 and was noticeable during the 2022 World Cup when he played for France against Poland.

Each time he picked up the ball, there would be a lot of space behind Poland’s defence.

Although he usually sprints, there are moments when he slows down or stops moving to lure his opponents. Once the opponents approach him, he swiftly shifts the ball and moves behind the defensive line.

This move is especially useful outside the penalty area, as he can shift the ball with his right foot or shoot with his left foot.

20. Theo Hernandez- 35.7 km/h

Theo Hernandez's kicking the ball.
Theo Hernandez’s kicking the ball. Image: X/MilanPosts

AC Milan won its first Serie A title in 2022 after 11 years, thanks to Theo Hernandez. His contributions were five goals and six assists, which were impressive for any Serie A defender that season.

This victory occurred a week after securing a 2-0 win against Atalanta after running for 95 meters. His speed would see him get more international calls that are too long to list here.

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