Here is the first instalment of a special mini-series where I select the five fastest players in Europe for a range of positions.
Although every effort has been made to back-up my choices, this list is sure to be controversial. Have your say in the comments section at the bottom of the page - maybe even share your own top five!
Anyway, to kick the speed series off, here is my list of the five quickest full-backs in European football:
Kyle Walker | Tottenham
Very few wingers in Europe have a chance of beating Kyle Walker in a foot race, so it’s no wonder the 22-year-old is considered equal to team-mates Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon in terms of speed.
During an interview with football magazine FourFourTwo, the England international revealed that Bale “gives me a good run for my money when it comes to acceleration and deceleration.”
Speaking to the Daily Mail in response to speculation regarding who is the fastest of the speedy Tottenham trio, Walker declared: “I'm going to have to do a race because people are always asking.
“If you want to get it together, we'll run it at the end of the season”, half-joked the former Sheffield starlet.
Ignazio Abate | AC Milan
Due to Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri preferring to line up his side in a 4-3-3 formation, Ignazio Abate is expected to get forward and compensate the consequential lack of width in midfield.
Although the attacking duties of the Milan right-back occasionally hinder his defensive positioning, his lightning pace can usually get him out of jail.
According to the Telegraph, the Italian and his blistering speed warranted a mention among five players English sides should fear in the Champions League.
Seemingly tireless with his work rate, Abate is willing to bomb forward for the entire 90 minutes. Opposing wingers and full-backs could be forgiven for presuming a Ferrari engine has replaced his respiratory system.
Jordi Alba | Barcelona
Jordi Alba burst onto the scene with Spain at Euro 2012 after a series of performances demonstrating immense maturity and class for such a young player.
His scintillating pace is a constant thorn in the side of opposition wingers who struggle to find a way past the solid full-back. Opposition defenders are equally frightened of the marauding Spaniard due to his dangerous blend of speed and energy.
Check out this video of Alba’s amazing injury-time run and finish in Barça’s 4-0 win over Milan in the Champions League earlier this year.
Gaël Clichy | Manchester City
Throughout his career, the Manchester City speedster has always been renowned for his impressive athleticism rather than his defending.
Although the Frenchman has an edge in speed over most other footballers, he admits that not even his pace can match one of his former team-mates.
Referring to Theo Walcott in an interview with the Sunday Times, Clichy claimed: “I can close him down over a short distance but he’s really, really fast, amazing, faster than Thierry (Henry).”
“When there’s a long ball I’m always trying to keep up”, he added.
No wonder Gaël elected a move to City - who would want to mark Walcott in training every day?
David Alaba | Bayern Munich
Joining the youth ranks at Bayern Munich in 2008, David Alaba has quickly developed into the complete modern attacking full-back.
The Austrian is a capable defender blessed with height, power and an intelligent footballing mind, hence his constant presence in the Bayern Munich starting eleven.
But amongst his other key qualities, Alaba is capable of catching most wingers or burning immobile defenders with his searing pace.
During the lead up to Bayern’s Champions League clash against Arsenal earlier this season, the Metro dubbed the young full-back as the perfect candidate to stop the goalscoring streak of Theo Walcott.
As expected, the fleet-footed 20-year-old staked his claim as one of the fastest players in Europe as he matched the Gunners sprinter stride for stride and heavily contributed to his team's progression to the quarter-finals.
Other notable contenders:
Dennis Diekmeier | Hamburg SV
Dani Alves | Barcelona
Francesco Pisano | Cagliari
Do you think any other full-back speedsters deserved to make the list? Leave a comment below!
Follow me on Twitter: @LukeKarlik
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