At present, the days of pumping the long ball forward in order to reach the big man up front seem to be on the wane. This is largely in part down to the recent emergence of teams such as Barcelona who introduced their effective tiki-taka system. Involving a number of different players who are on the shorter side, players such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi have flourished. Intricate passing goes hand in hand with detailed triangles to perplex the opposition. Who ever thought that size does really matter? It just goes to show that shorter players have the ability to bamboozle not to mention unlock the tightest of defences.
Over the last six years, Barcelona has shown to the footballing world that a team does not necessarily need athletic Amazonian type individuals. In recent years, they have won the UEFA Champions League on two separate occasions. The first of these took place in Rome back in 2009 when they faced Manchester United. Thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Argentinian maestro Lionel Messi, the Catalan club demonstrated their exquisite talent.
They followed this victory up with one of the most one sided finals in recent memory. In 2011, the stage was set once again at Wembley Stadium for Barcelona as they came up against the Red Devils. A 3-1 victory was the tip of the soccer iceberg as the Spanish side swept away the 13 time Premier League winner. Thanks to their wealth of diminutive players in the side, even Sir Alex Ferguson gave credit where it was due to Guardiola’s all-star eleven.
As the game continues to evolve across the globe, the long and short of it is that good things certainly come in small packages. Here is the rundown of the 10 shortest footballers in the game today.
10. Marcin Garuch
At a little over five feet tall, Marcin Garuch is arguably one of the smallest players on the planet. Yet his tiny figure does not detract from his excellent ball skills which are coupled with his dead ball play. The Polish player has been plying his trade for many years in his native land and plays for Miedz Legnic. He has played a host of times in the official Polish football league and still has a lot to give to the game. In spite of the fact that he is only in his mid-20s, Garuch is a mini dynamo in every sense of the word.
9. Maximiliano Moralez
This minuscule forward has literally had to catapult himself into the top 10 list. Known as the little flask or frasquito, Maximiliano Moralez is a teeny tiny striker who is less than five feet and four inches tall. The Argentine front man has had to cope with a number of different taller defences in his time but this has not stopped him appearing for several clubs. This includes the likes of Spartak Moscow in Russia as well as Atlanta. He can also play as an attacking midfielder and is considered to be one of the smallest players to have ever turned out in Serie A.
8. Daniel Villalva Barrios
A popular player who has already represented his country at Under 17 level, Daniel Villalva is in a league of his own. The Argentine player currently plays his football in his homeland for River Plate. Measuring just over five feet tall, the forward can run both channels and makes excellent runs behind the back line. Born in 1992, he was the youngest ever player to appear for River Plate which he achieved back in 2009. At the time, Barrios was less than 17 years of age but has featured several times for the Argentinean outfit. In the summer of 2014, Barrios moved on to Veracruz who play in the Liga MX.
7. Levi Porter
An Englishman born and bred, Levi Porter is certainly not carrying the weight on his footballing shoulders. The miniscule player comes in at only five feet and three inches tall. Despite his small stature, Porter more than makes up for it thanks to his intricate wing play for Shepshed Dynamo. The Midland Football League may be a long way away from the big lights of the Premier League but Porter has still made an impression due to his small figure. Making his profession in the lower leagues, Porter is not giving up the ghost just yet. He has some impressive experience behind him which includes being a former youth member of the Leicester City academy. In addition to this, Porter has even played for England at Under 16 not mention Under 17 levels.
6. Madson Formagini
Born in Brazil has its bonuses in the soccer sphere, especially for close ball control and all those endless beach tennis games. Take for example the case of Brazilian player Madson Formagini. At just 5 feet and 3 inches tall, his small figure has not stopped him from playing for several clubs. This features Vasco da Gama and Santos in his native land. Formagini then made the move to the Middle East in order to play for Al Khor who are based in Qatar.
5. Joe Allen
At a little over 5-foot-5, Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen is one of the taller players on the list. The small but perfectly formed Welshman made his name whilst playing in the white of Swansea City. He managed to play a series of game under the tutelage of Brendan Rogers whilst at the Liberty Stadium. Nonetheless, a spate of injuries ensured Allen was unable to participate in as many games as he would have liked to. Allen then move on to Liverpool in the summer of August for a fee believed to be in the region of $25 million.
So far, he has failed to push his way into the starting eleven but nevertheless, Allen is still young enough to cause a stir. Unfortunately, injury has dogged Allen’s career so far at Anfield and has included surgery on an injured shoulder. He has been a regular part of not only the Under 17, Under 19 and Under 21 squads but the Welsh first team squad where he made his debut just last year.
4. Alexis Sanchez
Chilean international and Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez is one of the hottest talents on the footballing field. His ability to conjure something out of nothing as well as his dogged determination has already made him a fan favourite at the Emirates. The ex-Barcelona man came to the fore when he joined the Catalan club from Serie A team Udinese. His impressive displays thrust him into La Liga and were soon catching the eye of many across Spain. Furthermore, his impressive performances at the FIFA 2014 World Cup received plenty of plaudits and was soon attracting plenty of bids.
His transfer to Arsenal last summer for a fee in excess of $50 million has seen Sanchez join their ranks with the likes of Mezut Ozil. Sanchez has weighed in with several important goals this season to ensure that Arsenal are still in the Champions League hunt. His man of the match performances has enabled Arsenal to keep pegs with the chasing pack which include arch North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. His low centre of gravity enables him to move gracefully with seamless ease and has guaranteed he will be in the Arsenal ranks for some time.
3. Santi Cazorla
Another individual gunning for a spot is Santi Cazorla. The Arsenal midfielder is only 5-foot-4 but has not prevented him from several excellent performances. Most notably, this came against Manchester City at the Etihad where Cazorla controlled the majority of the game from the middle of the park. The Spanish international signed for Arsene Wenger for around $30 million from Malaga back in 2012. Since then, he has never looked back as Cazorla played an important role in last season’s FA Cup winning campaign. This is where Arsenal went all the way to Wembley and defeated Hull City by three goals to two. This was an extremely gruelling game which involved an extra time winner from Welshma Aaron Ramsay.
2. Nathan Dyer
Another impressive package coming in at a mere 5-foot-4 is Swansea City’s very own Nathan Dyer. With a host of assists to his name already this season, the impressive midfielder has been racking up the fantasy football league points. Nonetheless his small figure has not stopped him from chipping in with several goals already in the current campaign. His pace along with his delicate touch on the ball ensures defences have been kept on their toes.
During his teen years, Dyer started off his career at Southampton where several players such as Gareth Bale and Luke Shaw have gone on to have excellent careers. He has now made more than 200 appearances for the Swans to date and has formed a successful midfield duo with Gylfi Sigurdsson. Dyer’s run of form has enabled him to cement a permanent place in the Swans starting line-up.
1. Benedict Vilakazi
This is most definitely an unexpected tale but South African footballer Benedict Vilakazi definitely comes up short. At barely five feet and two inches, he is one of the tiniest players on the planet. He currently plays in Africa for the aptly named Botswana Meat Commission side but what he lacks in height he makes up for in effort. He does have a physical presence and to his teammates, he goes by the name of “Little Napoleon”.
His leadership skills are second to none, whilst next to some of the tallest players in the League he would pale into insignificance. This includes Southampton’s Fraser Forster who stands at well over 6-foot-4. Some of his most notable clubs feature the Orlando Pirates and Aalborg. Vilakazi has also appeared for the South African national team on more than 30 occasions and scored two goals.