Study Reveals The Countries Home to the Fastest Footballers
Speed is a valuable asset for any football player, whether it’s for making runs, tracking opponents, intercepting passes, reaching long balls, or slaloming through defenders to put the ball in the back of the net.
Italy may have overcome England to win the Euro 2020 tournament this summer, but which countries came out on top when it comes to speed?
To find out, we examined player statistics from the Euro 2020 tournament to uncover which country is home to the fastest footballers. We analysed each player’s top speed in kilometres per hour (kmph) to determine which country has the fastest team on average, as well as identifying the quickest defenders, midfielders, forwards, and goalkeepers.
Our analysis of Euro 2020 data reveals that Austria was the fastest country at the tournament, with an average top speed of 30.4kmph across the team. Their fastest player was Martin Hinteregger, who plays as a centre-back for the Austria national team. His top speed reached 32.4kmph during the four games played in the tournament.
The second-fastest country was Belgium, with an average team top speed of 30.25kmph over the five games played in the tournament –– just 0.15kmph shy of the top spot. Surprisingly, the team’s fastest player was defender Jan Vertonghen, who reached a top speed of 32.6kmph.
Croatia ranked third, recording an average top speed of 30.07kmph, followed closely by the Czech Republic in fourth with an average top speed of 30.03kmph. As with Austria and Belgium, the fastest players for both countries were defenders: Gvardiol (33.3kmph) and Kalas (33.1kmph) respectively.
In fact, the majority of the fastest players from each country participating in Euro 2020 were defenders. Our analysis found 13 were in defensive positions, six were midfielders, and five were forwards.
England ranked in sixth place, with an average top speed of 29.88kmph. Raheem Sterling, known for his “ferocious speed”, was England’s fastest footballer with a top speed of 33.1kmph.
Loïc Négo and Leonardo Spinazzola take joint first place here with a top speed of 33.8kmph. Spinazzola covered almost double Négo’s distance, attributable to Italy reaching the Euro 2020 final and playing four more games than Hungary.
Missing out on the top spot by just 0.5kmph were Joško Gvardiol and Andreas Christensen with a shared average top speed of 33.3kmph. Czech Republic defender, Tomáš Kalas, followed with a top speed of 33.1kmph, just 0.7 kmph off first place.
England’s Kyle Walker, Holland’s Denzel Dumfries, and Wales’ Connor Roberts each measured a top speed of 32.8kmph, covering 59.9km, 35.8km, and 34.2 km respectively. Rounding off the top 10 fastest defenders are Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen and France’s Raphaël Varane, with both players racking up a top speed of 32.6kmph.
In first place was Welshman Daniel James who recorded a top speed of 33.5kmph at the tournament, travelling a total of 31.6km.
Spain’s Marcos Llorente, who plays as either a midfielder or second striker, was close behind in second. Llorente measured a top speed of 33.3kmph, just 0.2kmph off James’s pace.
The third-fastest midfielder is Konrad Laimer of Austria, measuring a top speed of 32.4kmph. Laimer’s teammate, Marcel Sabitzer, also ranks among the fastest midfielders, with a top speed of 31.5kmph. Sabitzer covered almost 10km more on the pitch than Laimer during the tournament.
Other midfielders who also reached a top speed of 32kmph include Leroy Sané (Germany), Scott McTominay (Scotland), and Steven Zuber (Switzerland).
With a shared top speed of 31.7kmph, Poland’s Kamil Jóźwiak and Switzerland’s Ruben Vargas were also among the fastest midfielders at Euro 2020. Rounding off the top 10 are Austria’s Marcel Sabitzer and Croatia’s Ivan Perišić, with a top speed of 31.5kmph.
Topping the forwards table is Kingsley Coman of France, recording a top speed of 33.7kmph. This was the second-fastest top speed of all players analysed from the 24 countries in the competition.
Coman’s teammate, Kylian Mbappé, also ranks among the fastest forwards, with a top speed of 32.2kmph. Despite being 1kmph slower, Mbappé covered three times more distance than Coman over the tournament
The second-fastest forward was Finland’s Teemu Pukki who recorded a top speed of 33.3kmph, just 0.5kmph off the top spot. His Finnish teammate, Lassi Lappalainen, also made the top 10 with a top speed of 32.2kmph.
Fellow Premier League forward Raheem Sterling matched Italy’s Federico Chiesa with both racking up a top speed of 33.1kmph.
Two of Switzerland’s players, Breel Embolo and Haris Seferovic, also made it into the top 10 with top speeds of 32.8kmph and 32.4kmph respectively.
While goalkeepers aren’t known for their speed, we sought to identify the fastest keepers during the Euro 2020 tournament. Tomáš Vaclík of the Czech Republic measured a top speed of 27.7kmph, followed closely by Scotland’s David Marshall who recorded 27.2kmph.
The third-fastest goalkeeper was Spaniard Unai Simón who measured a top speed of 25.7kmph, just 2kmph less than Vaclík in first place. Denmark’s Kaspar Schmeichel recorded a similar top speed of 25.4kmph.
Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois, Germany’s Manuel Neuer, Poland’s Wojciech Szczęsny all recorded top speeds of 23.9kmph, followed by Heorhiy Bushchan of Ukraine who recorded a top speed just 0.1kmph slower at 23.8kmph.
- GamblingDeals.com sought to determine the European country with the fastest footballers based on the total average speed of its players.
- Dataset was sourced from UEFA.com, the official website of EURO 2020.
- For each footballer listed under each country, their position, average top speed (km/h) and distance covered (km) were collected. Countries where this data wasn’t available were omitted from the study.
- The resulting dataset was aggregated by country, and the average top speed (km/h) and distance covered (km) of footballers were calculated.
- The average top speed (kmph) of each country was then ranked in descending order, and the 24 countries with the fastest players were established.
- Data was collected on 01/09/2021 and is accurate as of then.