Soccer, particularly in the modern game, is a very physically demanding sport. The fitness programs, dietary requirements and training regimes implemented by professional teams, particularly at the highest level, leaves little room for unfit players. There are, as always, a few exceptions though. One of those is goalkeepers, who obviously have less physical excursion during a game and can often be prone to carrying a little more weight.
Another is incredibly gifted or technical players, whose ability covers up their physical flaws, with someone like Matt Le Tissier at Southampton (who doesn't make this list) being a prime example of that. Given that the professional game is roughly 150 years old, there have been a very many overweight players, and as such, any number of them miss out on our list of a top 20.
Some of these players had fitness and weight issues following a bad injury or incident, and may have been perfect athletes up until that point, whilst others were 'fat' for much of their careers. For some, their weight plagued their careers, restricting their potential and sometimes causing early retirement. For others, it failed to hold them back, reaching the highest level regardless. Here are the top 20 fattest soccer players.
19 Genero Zeefuik
17 Micky Quinn
16 Kevin Pressman
15 Neil Ruddock
14 Andy Reid
13 Mehdi Ben Slimane
12 Paddy Kenny
The 37-year-old English shot stopper Paddy Kenny has had a long and fairly respectable career in the game, but has always had one major problem; his weight. His fitness has often been called into question, and even his long-time manager and admirer Neil Warnock once said "The first thing I did was put him on a diet. He was eating burgers, pizzas and chips - and that was in the same day".
11 Ferenc Puskas
A true legend of the game, Ferenc Puskas is quite rightly regarded as one of the finest players and most gifted forwards the game has ever seen. His technique, intelligence and accuracy were all second to none, but he did have some serious deficiencies to his game. He did not track back, he wasn't particularly industrious and he practically never used his right foot or his head.
10 Jon Parkin
9 Ivan Valenciano
8 Steve McNulty
7 Jan Molby
6 Jeroen Verhoeven
4 Neville Southall
3 Tomas Brolin
Another very gifted player who let fitness issues ruin his career, after the 1994 World Cup, Tomas Brolin was hot property in Europe. During the early-mid 1990s, Brolin won the Coppa Italia, UEFA Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup with Parma, and reached the semi-final of both Euro '92 and the 1994 World Cup with Sweden.
1 William Foulke
The fattest professional footballer of all time quite simply has to be William Foulke, better known as William "Fatty" Foulke. When you're handed the nickname, 'Fatty', the odds are you're carrying some timber, and Foulke certainly was. A large man by nature, Foulke was 6-foot-4 and weighed a whopping 24 stone towards the end of his career, making him really rather large. While hampering his reflexes and agility, this did give Foulke the added bonus of occupying much of the goal without actually moving.
Folk spent the vast majority of his career at Sheffield United, later playing for Chelsea and Bradford and won one cap for England in 1897. Between the three clubs Foulke played 355 games over a 13 year career, winning the First Division title once and the FA Cup twice. The former Chelsea captain died in 1916 at the age of 42, with the exact cause of his death remaining largely unknown.
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