It was like a 200-metre Olympic race that was decided on the bend. As Gareth Bale raced around the outside lane to score the winning goal in the Copa Del Rey final last night, all anyone could do was watch.

The most impressive thing of all was that the sprint came after Bale had already spent 84 minutes running up and down the left wing. It wasn't one of football's great artistic goals, but it had us in awe for a different reasons.

People seem to appreciate great feats of athleticism more than ever now and that is why Bale's goal will not be forgotten for a long time. Perhaps it is because of the success of the 2012 Olympic games or because the gym-made players such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have replaced the silk of Roger Federer in tennis, but great physical qualities have never been more appreciated in sport.

So who are the most impressive athletes in football?

5 - Aaron Ramsey

The Arsenal midfielder has missed much of the second half of the season through injury and his side's fall from grace has coincided with that. He may not be the quickest or even the strongest midfielder but he has enough energy and fight to make up for it.

An impressive distance runner in his youth, it is no surprise to see Ramsey rampaging from box-to-box at the end of matches when everyone else has slowed down. He wants to be involved in all of the action and is not afraid to take on the likes of Toure and Steven Gerrard at their own game.

4 - Yaya Toure

There are few sights in football like Toure driving down the middle of his opponent's half as defenders bounce off him. It is not sheer strength that makes Toure so special, he has an amazing ability to fool defenders into thinking that he isn't going at full pelt when he is, drawing in half-hearted challenges and leaving them in his wake. His runs are made all the more impressive when he finishes them with a lethal shot from distance.

3 - Bastian Schweinsteiger

The German midfield enforcer is one of the game's most complete players. He was at his best against the so-often exhausting midfield of Barcelona in last year's Champions League. He not only stopped the Catalans in their tracks, he was able to take the game to them, pulling the strings as Bayern Munich ran out 7-0 aggregate winners. No one is going to bully Schweinsteiger.

2 - Gareth Bale

Like his Welsh counterpart Ramsey, Bale was an all-round athlete growing up. He was made to run. His performance against Inter Milan in 2010 still stands out and he continues to run defenders into the ground on a regular basis.

He is one of the quickest players in possession and rather than using tricks to best his opponent, Bale tends to spot the space and challenge them to get there before him. He rarely comes out second best.

1 - Cristiano Ronaldo

The complete package. Ronaldo began his career as a quick but skinny kid. Through countless hours of training he has now morphed into a powerful beast without losing any of his pace or stamina.

Add to that the most impressive header in football, a ferocious show and as little time on the treatment table as any player could hope for, Ronaldo is the player all others aspire to be like. At 29, he is expected to slow down soon but with this remarkable athlete, it would be no surprise to see him revolutionise what it means to be a player in your 30s.

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