Skip to Content
The Pitch is Ours is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more

How Fast Are Soccer Players?

How Fast Are Soccer Players?

Over the years, exceptional soccer players on the soccer pitch have fascinated soccer fans with not just their skills but also how fast they could run on the soccer pitch. The gradual evolution of soccer has made it more fast-paced and more physically demanding than it used to be in the past.

Dribbling skills and other prevalent skills in soccer become more effective when players also possess astounding speed. Professional soccer players spend a reasonable amount of time in training and the gym, working mostly at their pace—always trying to beat their best time.

The player is running with the ball in a soccer match

Players who possess astounding speed during a game are often the most valued and most times become the players who score the winning goals or create the best in a soccer match.

Fast-paced soccer players can easily outrun an opponent in a one-on-one bout and are also very effective during counter-attacks.

Fast soccer players are a goalkeeper’s and defender’s nightmare on the soccer field because their level of preparedness is tested whenever they come in contact with a fast-paced soccer player. It is always pulse-raising and striking in a soccer match when many opponent defenders are rendered helpless by a single player who possesses a blistering pace.

2 soccer players are running at high speed

In this article, we shall reveal some of the fastest soccer players and how fast their skinny legs can travel.

How fast are soccer players?

It might sound comical but the term “speed kills” doesn’t apply to soccer. In fact, in soccer, speed saves. We know you may be wondering how much speed it takes an average soccer player to successfully compete against professionals in the game. Keep reading to find out.

Playing in the World Cup is the apex of soccer for many soccer players. Getting picked to represent your country in the World Cup requires a lot of dedication, skills, drive, and technical abilities although having all these traits without having a fast pair of legs will eventually betray you as a soccer player.

From FIFA’s technical report, we discovered that the 2014 World Cup hosted by Brazil comes top on the list of the fastest World Cups ever played in history. It is on record that during the 2014 World Cup won by Germany, Germany’s ace player Thomas Mueller was able to cover a total running distance of 52 miles (84km) in just seven matches.

Luis Advincula also called ‘Bolt’ Advincula is Peru’s defender who was once celebrated as the world’s fastest soccer player in the year 2018. He set a record of 36.15 km/h (22 mph) in a match against Chivas Guadalajara.

Outfield soccer players can average a running distance of 6-7 miles in a single match. Some top-rated soccer players can even record as much as 9-10 miles running distance in 90 minutes of a soccer match while goalkeepers can average 3-4 miles running distance per match.

The soccer players are running without the ball in a match

A soccer player’s speed during a soccer match can be affected by many factors such as the weather, player’s position, nature of the turf, stamina, player’s form, and physical fitness.

Although the average running distance covered by soccer players per match hasn’t changed much over the years, the number of high-speed sprints done by soccer players per game has risen by 30%.

Sprint training might not seem necessary for soccer players since soccer isn’t a running contest. However, when a soccer player is properly trained to sprint, they can compete with even the fastest soccer players in the field.

Young soccer players are sprinting in their training session

Are soccer players faster than NFL players?  

Soccer and NFL or American football are very distinct even though they are both contact sports. You mostly use your hands in playing American football while legs are mostly used in playing soccer. It is difficult to compare soccer players with American football players based on their speed.

While speed is important in both sports to evade the opponent in an attempt to score a point, soccer players focus on strategy and skills leaving speed secondary while American football is a sport where speed is primary and skill is secondary. This reason goes a long way in determining who is faster among both games.

Because American football is speed intensive, many track and field athletes can be found in NFL teams, unlike soccer which requires a high level of skill sets demanding many years to master.

When sprinters play American football, they rarely turn out extraordinary because most American football players are naturally fast even though they are well built.

In summary, we believe that freakishly fast American football players like Chris Johnson, Darrell Green, Deion Sanders, and Bo Jackson can all sprint faster than the likes of soccer speedsters like Kyle Walker, Mohamed Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Kylian Mbappe.

List of the fastest male soccer players 

In the early minutes of a soccer match, the team with a higher overall speed always has added chances of scoring an early goal which is an advantage in soccer. When soccer teams are scouting for new players to add to their team, top speed is one of the many characteristics they consider.

Top 10 Fastest Football Players 2021

It is a huge achievement to be counted among the fastest players in soccer. Such a status can only be earned through hard work and tenacity. Therefore, all the players that appear on our list deserve commendation for their hard work and dedication to reach that height.

  1. Alphonso Boyle Davies

Alphonso Davies is a left-back player for German Bundesliga’s soccer club Bayern Munich, he also plays for Canada’s national team. Davies is a very young player; he was born in November 2000 but that didn’t stop him from making this list among other soccer’s fastest players.

His top speed stands at 36.51 km/h (22.7 mph) from a match in 2020, Davies may still get faster as he grows older. In the FIFA 2021 soccer simulation video game, Davies is one among three players with the fastest sprint rating. We won’t be surprised if he exceeds his current maximum speed in no distant future.

FC Bayern's Roadrunner – Alphonso Davies Shows Incredible Speed vs. Dortmund's Haaland
  1. Rafael Alexandre “Rafa” Fernandes Ferreira da Silva

Rafa is a professional Portuguese soccer player representing the Portuguese national team and Benfica as a winger. Rafa’s top speed stands at 33.5km/h (20.8 mph) from a match against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.

People don’t consider Rafa a fast player but whenever he is on the soccer pitch, he always manages to stay ahead of opposition players. At 28, we must say Rafa is doing pretty great when compared with a few of his peers.

  1. Achraf Hakimi Mouh 

Achraf is a Moroccan national team player and also plays as a wing-back for Paris Saint-Germain, he has a top speed of 36.2km/h (22.5 mph). His top speed is almost the same as Davies, although he is a few years older than Davies.

Ashraf plays major roles for both the Moroccan national team and PSG due to his incredible ability to accelerate past the opponent on the soccer pitch during matches.

Best of Achraf Hakimi - Best Goals, Assists & Super Speed
  1. Ismaila Sarr

Ismaila is a Senegalese professional soccer player playing as a winger for Senegal’s national team and Watford. His top speed (as of 2021) is 34.87 km/h (21.67 mph). Ismaila became more popular for his speed than his style of play.

At 23, he has all it takes to become one of the greats in soccer, all he needs is more practice because it takes more than just speed to excel in professional soccer.

Ismaila Sarr 2018-2019 - Insane Speed Skills & Goals - Stade Rennais
  1. Kylian Mbappe Lottin   

Mbappe plays for Paris Saint-Germain and the French national team, he has an outstanding top speed of 36 km/h (22.4 mph). He is ranked amongst the best in the game at the young age of 23.

Aside from having one of the fastest speeds ever recorded in soccer, Mbappe has a unique way of scoring a goal anytime he encounters the goal post. He is clearly on his way to joining all-time greats like Zidane and Pele if he continues to improve on his current form.

Kylian Mbappe Sonic Speed ● Crazy Runs & Acceleration
  1. Cristiano Ronaldo

At 36, Ronaldo’s top speed stands at 34.20 km/h (21.25 mph). He may not be as young as other players on our list but Ronaldo has proven in several instances that he is still capable when it comes to sprinting on the soccer pitch.

Ronaldo might not be on other subsequent lists due to his age but he remains a player to watch out for when it comes to the game of soccer.

33 Magic Speed Moments by Cristiano Ronaldo
  1. Lionel Messi

Argentine and PSG’s professional soccer player Lionel Messi may not be the fastest in the game but he has a pretty good speed of 32.5 km/h (20.195 mph). Even when Messi is with the ball, he still manages to maintain top speed.

On a less serious note, he could become a professional sprinter if he intends to. Messi might not have the fastest speed in soccer but he has crazy dribbling skills and shot accuracy with the ball.

Lionel Messi - Amazing Speed
  1. Gareth Frank Bale

Real Madrid and Welsh’s professional soccer player Gareth Frank Bale may come to fans as a shock with a top speed of 36.9 km/h (22.93 mph).

Bale is capable of accelerating at very high speeds even with the ball on his feet. His outstanding ball control is among the reasons why he is a very expensive soccer player.

Gareth Bale | The importance of speed
  1. Neymar da Silva Santos Junior

PSG and Brazil’s forward Neymar Junior, often regarded as one of the best soccer players in the world, has an impressive average speed of 34.7 km/h (21.56 mph). Neymar is a pure talent who isn’t just good at sprinting but also good in overall ball control.

This article wouldn’t be complete without including a list of female soccer players with the most speed.

Neymar Jr ► Crazy Speed & Dribbling Runs 2018 | HD

List of the fastest women’s soccer players 

Female soccer might not be as fast-paced as male soccer but it has some fast female players you might not know about yet. Below is a list of some of the fastest female soccer players we currently know of.

  1. Alexandra “Ali” Blaire Krieger

Orlando Pride of the Nation Women’s soccer star Ali Krieger with a top speed of 34.7 km/h (21.56 mph) is one of the fastest female soccer players according to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup technical report.

  1. Denise O’Sullivan

Irish and North Carolina Courage of the Nation Women’s professional soccer player Denise Sullivan is another female speedster with a top speed of 34.5 km/h (21.43 mph).

DENISE O'SULLIVAN | Some of her best goals!
  1. Lynn Raenie Williams

American and North Carolina Courage’s professional soccer player Lynn Williams aged 28 is another awesome female soccer player to watch out for with a top speed of 34.24 km/h (21.27 mph).

  1. Christen Annemarie Press

American professional soccer player Christen Press hit a top speed of 33 km/h (20.5 mph) in a match against Spain. On February 9, 2013, Christen made her first major appearance for the United States of America national soccer team in a friendly match against Scotland.

Christen Press I Speed Sprints in Football I Fastest USWNT Player
  1. Delphine Cascarino

French and Feminine Club Lyon’s professional soccer player Delphine Cascarino aged 24 is among the fastest female soccer players with a top speed of 31.45 km/h (19.54 mph) recorded at a match against Olympique Lyonnais in 2019.

Delphine Cascarino Skills, Goals, assists 2018-2019
  1. Madison “Maddie” Pogarch

American and Portland Thorns FC defender Madison Pogarch has a top speed of 30.5 km/h (19 mph). At just 23 she is faster than most of her female counterparts on the pitch.


Sprinting at high speeds can be very difficult and exhausting but even tougher when done with a ball on your feet.

Interestingly, it takes more than just having a great pace to become a successful soccer player. If that was the case, Usain Bolt would not have retired early after his brief stint with soccer.

Nevertheless, having a great acceleration can offer a soccer player an undue advantage over their opponents. This explains why a player’s rating is not complete without the mention of their pace.