The average height of a soccer player is 5-foot-9, not particularly tall. When one looks at the greatest player of all time, the likes of Diego Maradona, Pele, Ferenc Puskas and Johan Cruyff, they are all under six feet. Take a look at today's top players, including Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard and Neymar, and the trend continues. Of course, some buck the trend, with obvious examples including Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, all of whom are taller than six feet.
The tendency towards shorter players is no surprise, especially in creative and attacking players, as a more diminutive size means a lower center of gravity and often lends itself to better control and agility. Meanwhile, for central defenders and some attackers, height can be a huge advantage, in the obvious case of aerial duels. The other position which tends to see taller players is in goal, you rarely see a top class goalkeeper under six feet.
This list is restricted only to players who have played at a respectable level of soccer, therefore there are no amateur or part-time players. The list includes Premier League and international soccer stars, as well as some less familiar faces. So tall are the men on this list that the likes of Omar Gonzalez, Fernando Llorente and Per Mertesacker miss out; heck, Peter Crouch only just makes it! Here are the top 15 tallest soccer players in the world:
15 Peter Crouch
Probably the most well-known giant in soccer, Peter Crouch has spent the last 15 years in the Premier League, starring for QPR, Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Stoke and England. He overtook Alan Shearer last season as the top scorer of headed goals in Premier League history, which is hardly surprising considering Crouch stands at a towering 6-foot-7. With 22 goals in 42 games for England, Crouch has a fine international pedigree, and is surprisingly good on the ball for a man of his height.
14 Jan Koller
Jan Koller is arguably the most talented soccer player on this list, and another who will be well-known to a lot of people. Koller played for the likes of Anderlecht, Borussia Dortmund and Monaco, winning titles in the Czech Republic, Belgium and Germany, leading the divisions scoring charts in 1999. Standing at 6-foot-7.5, Koller had a very good goal scoring record over his career of 199 goals in 483 games, but had an even better record for his country. Koller played 91 times for the Czech Republic, scoring 55 goals; making him the nation's all-time leading scorer.
13 Stefan Maierhofer
Stefan Maierhofer has played in both the Bundesliga and the Premier League, with Bayern Munich and Wolves, although he could never find regular first team soccer with either side. Maierhofer rarely seems to hang around long at a team, becoming something of a journeyman, and currently finds himself in the Championship, England's second tier, with Millwall FC. A striker, Maierhofer stands at 6-foot-7 and a half inches tall, and has 19 caps for Austria, in which time he has managed to score only once.
12 Nikola Zigic
Another familiar face and well-known giant of the game, Nikola Zigic is best known for his time with Red Star, Valencia, Birmingham and the Serbian national team. The Serbia team are no stranger to having giants in their team, but even among his compatriots Zigic dwarfs them, at 6-foot-7 and a half inches, the same height as Maierhofer. Zigic earned legendary status in Birmingham after he scored in the 2011 League Cup final which saw Birmingham beat Arsenal 1-0 and win the competition. He has played 57 times for Serbia, scoring 20 goals.
11 Oyvind Hoas
A little less known perhaps, Oyvind Hoas has never played at international level and currently plays in the second division in Norway. Hoas is a towering striker who stands at 6-foot-8, making him one of the tallest outfield players in the world. Hoas almost moved to England in 2007 after trials with (at the time) League One side Luton Town, but failed to sufficiently impress and remained in Norway, where he currently plays for Honefess.
10 Costel Pantillmon
Back to a familiar face and back to the Premier League in the shape of former Manchester City and current Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantillmon. The Romanian, like Hoas, is an impressive 6-foot-8, meaning it is little effort for him to reach up and touch his crossbar. Romania have a number of tall athletes, notably retired NBA star Gheorghe Muresan and deceased boxer Gogea Mitu, both of whom were well over seven feet tall. Pantillmon may not be that tall but he is still tall enough to be considered the tallest player in the Premier League today and possibly in Premier League history.
9 Lacina Traore
Lacina Traore is another man who comes in at 6-foot-8. The Monaco striker is only 24 years of age and had a brief loan at Everton last season. His former clubs include Anzhi and Cluj, the Ivorian won the Romanian title with the latter of the two. Traore has failed to make an impression in the tax-haven of Monaco, having played only six games and scoring only once, but will hope to play more games next season without Dimitar Berbatov to compete with. Traore has eight caps for the Ivory Coast and has scored four goals.
8 Jason Mooney
Jason Mooney is a Northern Irish goalkeeper who has spent most of his career in the English lower leagues with the likes of York City, Accrington Stanley, Waycombe Wanderers and Tranmere Rovers. Mooney is 6-foot-8 and a half inches tall, making him one of the tallest players in Britain. He is currently without a club having been released by Accrington Stanley this summer. He is 26 years old, meaning that as a goalkeeper he still has plenty of time to develop his game and become a solid first team player for someone.
7 Yang Changpeng
Nicknamed "China's Peter Crouch" by the British press when he had trials at Bolton Wanderers back in 2006, Yang Changpeng is an enormous striker who hails from Wuhan, China. Changpeng showed promise as a youngster, and was only 17 when he came to England for trials with the then Premier League club, having already played for China at U20 level, but the move did not materialize and the forward has struggled ever since, now finding himself in China's second division and having never won a cap for the first team. Changpeng is 6-foot-8 and a half inches tall, making him the tallest Asian soccer player.
6 Tor Hogne Aaroy
Players of EA Sports FIFA 15 may known Tor Hogne Aaroy as he is the tallest player on the game, but I'm afraid he is only the sixth tallest player in real life. The game credits Aaroy as being 6-foot-8, but he is actually half an inch taller than that. Like many tall soccer players, Aaroy hails from Norway, unsurprising given that the country has one of the highest average heights in the world. Aaroy has spent all but two seasons of his career in Norway, with only a brief stint in Japan in between. Aaroy has been called up to Norway's national team but has never actually been capped.
5 Tonny Brogaard
Another Scandinavian, Tonny Brogaard is a Danish goalkeeper who has rarely been a regular starter or any club he's played for. He had a brief spell in England with Doncaster Rovers but soon found himself back in Denmark. Aged 31, Brogaard is back at his boyhood team of Frem who play in the Danish third division. Brogaard is 6-foot-9, and has been nicknamed 'the Gentle Giant' in his native Denmark.
4 Daniel Muller
Daniel Muller is a German goalkeeper who has had two stints with Bayern Munich, but never made a first team appearance for the Bavarian giants. Muller also spent time at Augsburg, again failing to break into the first team; and has now dropped down the leagues to find regular football, now with the lesser-known Bavarian team SV Seligenporten. Muller is also 6-foot-9, over five inches taller than current Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who is fairly tall himself.
3 Vanja Ivesa
Veteran goalkeeper Vanja Ivesa is 37 years old and has been in soccer for more than two decades. Ivesa has spent the majority of those 20 years in his native Croatia, although there have been a couple of spells in Turkey and Australia in there, the second of which being with Sydney United, the second biggest soccer team in the city. Ivesa, like Muller and Brogaard, stands at 6-foot-9, and returned to Croatia this year after three years in the Turkish second division.
2 Paul Millar
Paul Millar is the tallest soccer player in Britain, the tallest outfield player in the world and the second tallest soccer player in the world. The giant striker stands at a staggering 6-foot-10. Millar never came through the ranks of an academy but was selected to play in a Royal Air Force team and impressed sufficiently to be invited to play for Scottish side Elgin City, where he signed in 2010 and has remained ever since. Having started his career late, Millar scored 15 goals in 66 games before picking up a nasty injury this year which could potentially end his career. He still works at the RAF Kinloss Base and works as a fireman.
1 Kristof van Hout
Kristof von Hout is officially recognized as the tallest professional soccer player in the world, measuring at a heighty 6-foot-10. He is supposedly a centimeter taller than Millar, giving him the title outright. The Belgian is a scary looking goalkeeper who one would expected to claim most aerial balls floated into the box. The biggest club Hout has played for is Belgian giants Standard Liege, and he currently plays for Belgian Pro League side KVC Westerloo, who he joined this summer. Hout won the Belgian Cup with Genk back in 2013, his only trophy as a player to date.
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