There are few greater sights in football than seeing a player cannon a ball into the back of the net with ferocious power. Players with thunderous strikes, if twinned with at least a degree of accuracy, can be some of the most feared in the game. Many tend to be set piece specialists, delighting in the opportunity to put full force behind a shot from a deal ball situation and 'testing the goalkeepers fingertips', so to speak.
The players on this list had/have incredible power. When these players shoot, defenders and goalkeepers have two options; either get very hurt, or let the ball sail past you and cross your fingers that it doesn't find the back of the net. Somewhat surprisingly, it is often defenders who have some of the most powerful strikes in the game, and this list features no fewer than seven defenders.
In the modern era we have been able to measure the speed of shots, making it much easier to know who does in fact have the most powerful shot in the game. In years gone by, we have to rely often on grainy back and white footage and tails from our forefathers. The list is ranked by the power in which the player was capable of, the regularity in which they exhibited that power and their ability to also find the target.
In 1994 BBC Record Breakers recorded a Nicky Summerbee shot at 84 mph, which they believed to be the hardest ever. Unfortunately, the shot was not made in a competitive fixture, excluding it from the official rankings. Had the shot been made in an official fixture it would be the eighth hardest in the history of English football. Summerbee, who had a 17-year career, spent most of his playing days with Swindon Town, Manchester City and Sunderland as a midfielder. He played for England U-21s and England B Team but never won a full cap for his country despite his cannon of a shot.
Here are the top 25 soccer players with the hardest shots:
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25 Cristiano Ronaldo
One of the greatest players the game has ever seen, Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to record a strike which troubles the record books, or even gets near the top 10, having never hit a shot at over 80 mph. It is the quantity in which Ronaldo fires powerful shots and the accuracy in which he does it which earn him a place on this list. CR7 has scored over 500 career goals for club and country, many of them being fierce strikes, but his goal in the Champions League for Manchester United against Porto in the 2008-09 season must still go down as the finest example of the power and accuracy Ronaldo is capable of.
24 Pavel Nedved
One of the finest attacking midfielders in recent history, Pavel Nedved was a wonderfully gifted footballer who was majestic in possession and had an excellent eye for a pass. Another element of the Czech's game though, was his rocket of a shot. Nedved spent 13 years playing in Serie A with Lazio and Juventus, and won 16 titles across his entire career. Individually, Nedved was four-time Czech player of the year, and he won the Ballon d'Or in 2003. He scored over 150 goals in total, and was known to be capable of producing great power in both feet.
With a name like 'Hulk', you'd best have some power about you, and Brazilian forward/winger Hulk most certainly does. Not only is the Zenit Saint Petersburg man built like a mountain, he also has one of the fiercest strikes of any active player within the game. Having made his name with Porto, Hulk joined Zenit in 2012, and has won 45 caps for Brazil.
His wicked shot which is known to move in the air and cause mayhem for goalkeepers has become something of a trademark of his. It's even been mocked by Zenit who produced promo videos of Hulk hitting a ball so hard it exploded and firing the ball at a goalkeeper so hard it sent him flying through his own goal.
22 David Luiz
PSG defender David Luiz holds the record for the highest transfer fee ever set by a defender, when he moved from Chelsea to PSG in 2014. Luiz was regarded as something of a liability in England, but when deployed alongside Thiago Silva for either PSG or Brazil, Luiz has looked far more assured. L
uiz has scored 29 goals to date, with his World Cup goal against Colombia and his strike against Fulham in the Premier League perhaps the most memorable, the latter of which certainly displayed the power Luiz is capable of producing.
21 Ritchie Humphreys
Many of you will never have heard of Ritchie Humphreys, an English midfielder who has spent 12 years of his 19 year career at Hartlepool United. Before joining Hartlepool, Humphreys came through the academy at Sheffield Wednesday, going on to play 67 games for the club. Humphreys only scored four goals for Wednesday, but one of them was one of the fiercest strikes ever recorded. In a game against Aston Villa, Humphreys record a shot speed of 95.9 mph, which is the third hardest in English football history.
20 Michael Tarnat
Michael Tarnat is a former German international left wing-back, who won 19 caps for his country and played for the likes of Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Tarnat could play as both a wing back and a defensive midfielder, but was best known for the incredible power he possessed in his left foot. He won not a prolific scorer, netting only 38 goals in 471 career league games, but the goals he did get were almost all scorchers, and often hit from dead ball situations.
19 Paul Scholes
"Paul Scholes, he scores goals," used to ring out from the stands at Old Trafford and whileit may have been partly inspired by the rather handy rhyme, in his early years especially, Scholes was rather prolific from midfield. In his finest goal scoring season, 2002-03, Scholes scored a mightily impressive 20, and over his entire career, Scholes scored 169.
The 11-time Premier League champion and two-time Champions League winner often scored due to his exceptional reading of the game, but his most pleasing goals were scored from corners, when the ball would be teed up to Scholes on the edge of the area, only for him to fire the ball past the 'keeper.
18 Tony Yeboah
Tony Yeboah only spent two years at Elland Road but he is still considered to be a Leeds United legend. The Ghanaian forward spent the majority of his career playing in the Bundesliga, and scored over 200 goals for club and country across his entire career. Yeboah was not one for tap-ins, and many of those 200 goals were fantastic long-range strikes, and his goal for Leeds United against Liverpool has gone down as one of the greatest in Premier League history. Until Gareth Bale repeated the feat in 2013, Yeboah was the only player to have won successive Premier League Goal of the Month awards.
17 Alan Shearer
Another player of the Premier League era and arguably the greatest player of the PL era. Certainly, in terms of goals, no one comes close to Alan Shearer. With 260 Premier League goals, Shearer is 73 goals clear of his joint nearest rivals in the form of Andy Cole and Wayne Rooney. Shearer scored all kinds of goals, he was tremendous in the air, powerful, capable of sniffing out chances and taking goals first time.
He also scored thunderous long range efforts as well, with the best example coming in 2002, when Shearer rifled home an incredible volley against Everton. That wasn't the hardest Shearer hit a ball though, that was in 1997, against Leicester City, when Shearer recorded a shot speed of 85.8 mph, the fifth fastest in English football history.
The Brazilians are renowned for their free-kick expertise more than any other nation. From Zico to Juninho, many of the greatest dead ball specialists have hailed from the South American footballing dynasty. While others were capable of hitting the ball with power, most relied more on technique. Eder though, was a pure speed demon. Nicknamed "the Cannon" - for obvious reasons - Eder won 52 caps for Brazil, scoring eight goals for his country and being a part of the great Brazilian 1982 World Cup midfield.
15 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Currently managing English League One side Burton Albion, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was once one of the most potent strikers in the Premier League. He played club football in Holland, Portugal, Spain and England, winning 23 caps for the Netherlands, scoring nine goals. A talented all-round striker, Hasselbaink scored a variety of goals, but was known to love to power the ball past the goalkeeper. None of his efforts were ever recorded as being exceptionally fast, but the regularity of Hasselbaink powering them in mean he more than deserves his place upon this list.
14 Jorg Albertz
Retired German international Jorg Albertz was nicknamed "the Hammer" due to his powerful long-range efforts. Albertz spent almost his entire career in the Bundesliga and the SPL, also spending a season in China, and became a fan favourite with both Hamburg and Rangers. Albertz was prolific at Rangers, and in his five years at the club, his lowest tally for a season was 13, and his highest 20. Albertz won three caps for Germany.
13 Peter Lorimer
Leeds United's all-time record goal scorer Peter Lorimer was voted the club's ninth greatest player of all time. The Scotsman spent 17 years at Elland Road, and later played for Cape Town City, Toronto Blizzard, York City, Vancouver Whitecaps, UCD, Whitby Town and Hapoel Haifa. A prolific attacking midfielder, Lorimer scored over 300 career league goals, the vast majority coming with Leeds. Nicknamed 'Lash', 'Hot Shot' and 'Thunderboots', all because of his incredible power, Lorimer was regarded as having the most powerful shot in England throughout most of his playing career.
A Portuguese legend and without doubt one of the greatest footballers of all time, the great Eusebio was physically incredible. Known for his tremendous athleticism, Eusebio kept himself incredibly fit and strong, and his greatest strength was in his legs, where Eusebio possessed one of the fiercest shots in the world.
Eusebio scored a remarkable 423 goals in 431 league games, the vast majority coming in a highly successful 15 year spell at Benfica, in which Eusebio won 11 league title and one European Cup. He also scored 41 goals in 64 caps for Portugal, winning the Golden Boot at the 1966 World Cup.
11 John Arne Riise
Norwegian full-back John Arne Riise played for the likes of Monaco, Liverpool and Roma in a 19-year career which in now coming to a close with Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League. Without doubt Riise played his best games during his seven years at Liverpool, where he won the Champions League in 2005.
Riise was renowned for his powerful shooting during his time in the Premier League, particularly from set pieces. He has scored 55 goals at club level and 16 in 110 caps for Norway.
10 Ronald Koeman
Another defender to make this list, and Ronald Koeman was an exceptional one. He played for the likes of Ajax, PSV and Barcelona, winning eight league titles and two European Cup's. In terms of goal scoring defenders, they don't come better than Koeman, quite literally, as his 239 goals make him the highest scoring defender in the history of world football. A set piece specialist, Koeman had wonderful power and accuracy from both free-kicks and penalties.
Quite possibly the most inconsistent player in the history of his game, when Adriano was on song, he was superb, and he was best known for his thunderous left foot. Best known for his two spells at Inter Milan, spanning six seasons, Adriano was either the best or worst player in Serie A for most of his time in Italy. He won 48 caps for Brazil, scoring in 27 goals, and his hardest shot was clocked at 89.5 mph. More recently, Adriano made the news for reportedly spending just under $20,000 on 18 prostitutes.
8 David Hirst
David Hirst holds the record for the fastest recorded shot in English football history, which previously stood as the fastest in world football, hitting the crossbar against Arsenal with a shot which was measured as travelling at 114 mph in 1994. Hirst was a fine striker, and a blistering shot was only one of his attributes. Hirst played his best days at Sheffield Wednesday, and despite Sir Alex Ferguson's best efforts, he remained at Hillsborough for 11 years, scoring 106 goals in 294 games, and can consider himself unlucky to have only won three caps for England.
7 David Trezeguet
Legendary France striker David Trezeguet was one of the best forwards of his generation, with his best days coming at Juventus. Trezeguet won the World Cup, European Championship, Ligue 1, Serie A and numerous other trophies, with the Champions League being his only notable failure, being a losing finalist in 2002-03.
The Frenchman scored all kinds of goals, netting 227 goals in 445 games at club level and 34 in 71 for France. Trezeguet was capable of unleashing ferocious strikes and his shot for Monaco against Manchester United in the Champions League recorded at 98 mph is the fastest in Champions League history.
6 Ferenc Puskas
Ferenc Puskas was one of the greatest footballers to ever grace the field of play. He had balance, poise, finesse, technique and remarkable shooting power. Not only was Puskas unerringly accurate, he also had arguably the most powerful strike of his era. Puskas scored 616 goals in 620 games for Budapest Honved and Real Madrid, as well as 84 goals in 85 caps for Hungary. The legend of Puskas' fearsome strike power may have been somewhat exaggerated over the years, but there can be no doubt that the 'Galloping Major' did pack a mightily powerful shot.
5 David Beckham
The most recognizable and marketable footballer of all-time, on the pitch, David Beckham was perhaps best remembered for his iconic free-kicks. One of the finest strikers of a dead ball the game has ever seen, Becks scored a total of 146 goals for club & country, 65 of them free kicks.
Beckham wasn't always known to power them, perhaps better known for the curve/bend on his shots, but that didn't mean he wasn't capable of hitting a ball with some serious force. Beckham is the only player to feature twice in the top 10 fastest shots in English football history. Beckham's fastest, which came for Manchester United against Chelsea in 1997, was recorded at 97.9 mph.
Former Santos, PSV, Chelsea and PSG defender Alex was nicknamed 'the Tank' due to his physical strength and thunderous shots. The Brazilian central defender has had a highly successful career, winning league titles in four different countries, and currently plays in the Serie A for AC Milan.
Alex has scored 50 goals in his career to date, but none in his 15 caps for Brazil. It is said that when Alex hits a ball it stays hit, and the best example of Alex's shot power came with his wicked free-kick for Chelsea in a 4-4 draw against Liverpool in the 2009 Champions League.
3 Lee Wai Tong
Chinese superstar Lee Wai Tong is a player who we sadly have to rely largely on hearsay with regards to his shot power. Tong played football in the 1920s, 30s and 40s and is widely regarded as China's greatest ever footballer and one of the best to originate from Asia. Legend has it, many goalkeepers would rather concede a goal than try and get in the way of one of Tong's shots.
A prolific striker, Tong trained with a ball made of sand in his early years, which was often cited as the reason behind his venomous shots, and in a game in which he scored seven goals, one of Lee Wai Tong's strikes put a whole in the net such was the force behind the shot.
2 Ronny Heberson
Hertha Berlin's left winger Ronny Heberson holds the record for the fastest shot ever recorded in competitive football history. Heberson is far from a prolific scorer, with only 31 career league goals at the age of 29, and with his former club, Sporting Lisbon, he only scored once. That one goal was a memorable one though, and is believed to have been the fastest in history. His goal was an important one, coming in the 88th minute and handing Sporting a 1-0 win. The incredible free-kick was reportedly clocked at a remarkable 131 mph, which would make it almost 16 mph faster than the second fastest of all-time.
1 Roberto Carlos
Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos is well-worth top spot on this list, such was the prevalence and accuracy of his long-range scorching efforts. Carlos was renowned for his venomous strikes from distance, both in open play and from set pieces. Now aged 42, Carlos is currently working as a player/manager for Indian Super League side Delhi Dynamos, but Carlos' best years came with Inter Milan and Real Madrid. Carlos had remarkable power in his legs, with the stamina of his running, strength in the challenge and most notably the power in his shooting.
Roberto Carlos scored 102 goals in 820 games at club level and 11 goals in 125 caps for Brazil, in a career in which he won four La Liga titles, the Champions League three times, the World Cup and 19 other trophies. He was the FIFA World Player of the Year runner-up in 1997 and the Ballon d'Or runner-up in 2002. His most famous goal was probably his 1997 Confederations Cup free-kick against France, which travelled at 85.2 mph.
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