20 million people from the United Kingdom tuned in last night to see Usain Bolt prove what we all know but some doubted; that he is the fastest man on the planet.
While the Jamaican couldn’t quite match his stunning run in the 2009 World Championships in which he produced his world record 9.58 run – instead he was forced to settle for a meagre 9.63; just an Olympic record and the second quickest time in history.
Back in Berlin, Bolt reached a scorching 27.5 miles an hour in setting his world record- can anyone from the world of football get anywhere near him?
It’s worth noting that most football speed studies should be taken with a pinch of salt; most are commissioned by sponsors like Nike looking to showcase the best talent in their stable, while others use different formulas to get to their results – meaning the results are inconsistent to say the least.
However two studies in recent years have the backing of OptaSports, the leader in football statistics and analysis so we can presume some level of legitimacy – although the results may leave you a little surprised.
What won’t leave you surprised is that of the three studies used to compile the list below, each one backed by a particular sponsor, has their own man at the top.
The results below are based on top speed achieved by players rather than their highest average speed or their 100 metres time, with the results coming courtesy of three separate studies.
Top Ten Fastest Footballers
1 – Theo Walcott – 22.72mph
2 – Sol Campbell – 22.50mph
3 – Mari Balotelli – 22.37mph
4 – Gareth Bale – 22.37mph
5 – Ashley Cole – 22.37mph
6 - Chris Smalling – 22.37mph
7 – Jack Wilshere – 22.35mph
8 – Fernando Torres – 22.27mph
9 - Didier Drogba – 22.27mph
10 – Andy Carroll – 22.24mph
And nowhere to be seen…
Cristiano Ronaldo – 20.87mph
Arjen Robben – 20.44mph
Wayne Rooney – 20.25mph
Robin van Persie – 19.94mph
So there you have it. While the overall fastest football player on the planet may not come as such a surprise – what else does Theo Walcott have if not speed? – then the remainder of the list may raise a few eyebrows.
Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, is outstripped for pace by Liverpool’s very own Andy Carroll while Sol Campbell, despite his advancing years, still has more than enough in his locker to out-pace the likes of Fernando Torres.
Jack Wilshere can barely make it onto the pitch these days but when he does is an absolute rocket; the Arsenal midfielder tops out at a remarkable 22.35 miles-per-hour to make him one of the fastest players out there.
For Tottenham fans it may be something of a surprise to see Aaron Lennon not on the list, while Manchester United fans are most likely scratching their heads as to how their fastest player is not Wayne Rooney, who is over two miles an hour slower than Chris Smalling. Antonio Valencia meanwhile doesn’t even get a look in.
The results are obviously warped by the agenda of each company behind the studies – most fans can generally agree that the likes of Theo Walcott, Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry are/were the quickest players in the game.
But in the aftermath of Bolt’s lightning performance in the Olympic 100 metres final last night, who do you think is the fastest in the game?
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