Speed is a valuable commodity in professional football. Those who can leave their opponent behind or gain a yard of space are deadly weapons.
A study by a Mexican Premier League club, supported by FIFA and published by Spanish paper Marca, identified the world’s ten fastest players with the ball at their feet.
And these are those sprinters who’ll be tearing things up at Euro 2016 in France.
Gareth Bale (Wales)
Clocked at a speed of 36.9 km/h, the Welsh winger is currently the planet’s fastest footballer with the ball at his feet. Bale’s move to Real Madrid in 2013 was the most expensive transfer in the world, with Los Blancos paying around £85.3 million to Tottenham Hotspur.
In October 2015, Bale and the Welsh national team qualified for Euro 2016 in France. For the Dragons it is their first ever participation in a European Championship finals - the only other international tournament for the Welsh being the 1958 World Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
The Real Madrid attacker is not only considered the best footballer in the world, at 33.6 km/h he’s also found in the top ten speedsters list. Portugal had to fare without their star at the beginning of the Euro qualifiers and promptly lost against Albania.
Upon his return Ronaldo duly scored against Denmark and Albania respectively in two 1: 0 wins. With a total of 26 goals in qualifying and finals tournament matches, Ronaldo holds the European Championship scoring record.
Wayne Rooney (England)
According to the list, England striker Wayne Rooney can hit 31.2 km/h when in possession. The Liverpool-born icon was the youngest player ever to play in the England team until Theo Walcott beat that feat, and he is also the youngest ever to score for the Three Lions.
On September 8, 2015, Rooney scored a penalty against Switzerland, his 50th goal for the national side. In doing so, the Manchester United star surpassed the legend Bobby Charlton to become his country’s all-time leading scorer.
Sergio Ramos (Spain)
With the ball at his feet, Spanish defender Ramos can sprint up to 30.6 km/h. This may come as a surprise from a player mainly known for his strength and his tough tackling.
On November 29, 2010, Ramos received his tenth red card in 175 games for Real Madrid equalling the previous holder of the unwanted record, Fernando Hierro.
However, the elder Spanish legend needed 439 games to reach that ignominious milestone. To date, Ramos has earned over 20 red and yellow cards in a Real Madrid shirt.