Exploring the average height of soccer players worldwide

Exploring the average height of soccer players worldwide

Claudia Kogi
updated at July 16, 2023 at 11:22 AM
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Soccer is the most popular sport worldwide that has seen its share of talents. It has some of the most significant leagues in the world, in addition to the World Cup, held every four years. Since height has proven to play a role in almost every sport, in soccer, shorter players have compensated for it in other ways. We explore the average height of soccer players worldwide.

Average height of soccer players
The AS Roma team lines up before the UEFA Youth League semi-final match against Chelsea FC at Colovray Sports Centre on 10 April 2015 in Nyon, Switzerland. Photo: Luciano Rossi
Source: Getty Images

Although some soccer positions use taller players, shorter athletes have proven that they can do better in the same role. Height gives an advantage to tall players when taking high ball control, and in doing so, they end up outshining shorter athletes who cannot reach the ball and vice versa is true.

What is the average height for soccer players?

The average height of soccer players is 5 feet 11 inches or 180 centimetres. A football club is mainly made up of tall and short players to complement each other in their areas of deficiencies and expertise.

The average height of professional soccer players

International professional footballers stand at around 5 feet and 11 inches or 182 centimetres tall for both men and women. And since tallness plays a significant role in an athlete's performance, it can also be their weakness on the pitch.

The world has seen both tall and short footballers, for instance, Lionel Messi, who is 5 feet 7 inches or 170 centimetres, Zlatan Ibrahimović 6 feet 5 inches or 195 centimetres, and Cristiano Ronaldo 6 feet 2 inches or 187 centimetres.

The average height of male soccer players

Average height of soccer players by position
Didier Drogba (L) of Chelsea lines up with other players during the UEFA Champions League Group G match against FC Schalke 04 on 17 September 2014 in London, United Kingdom. Photo: Mike Hewitt
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Generally, the average height of male professional footballers is around 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet 2 inches; thus, the mean will be 6 feet.

The average height of female soccer players

Women worldwide have an average height of 5 feet 4 inches, and female footballers in a team average 5 feet 7 inches. Although this average can change for various reasons, short women have proved superior to their taller counterparts.

For instance, the United States female soccer national team has Crystal Dunn at 5 feet 1 inch as their shortest athlete and Sam Mewis at 6 feet as the tallest.

The average height of soccer players by position

Although body size might influence a tall player's effectiveness, it does not guarantee they can perform better than their shorter counterparts. Positions-wise, shorter athletes are mostly midfielders, strikers, defenders, and goalkeepers.

According to various online sources, goalkeepers have an average height of 6 feet 2 inches or 188 centimetres, defenders 6 feet or 183 centimetres, midfielders 5 feet 11 inches or 180 centimetres, and strikers 5 feet 11 inches or 181 centimetres.

Average height of professional soccer players
Independiente Medellin's forward Brayan Leon (L) and San Lorenzo's forward Cristian Barrios (R) fight for the ball during the Copa Sudamericana round of 32 knockout play-offs first leg football match at the Atanasio Girardot stadium in Medellin, Colombia, on 12 July 2023. Photo: Freddy Builes
Source: Getty Images

The average height of European soccer players

Although most famous European footballers are known for their tallness, they also have their share of short athletes. They stand at an average of 5 feet 11.69 inches or 182.1 centimetres tall.

Often in Europe, the tallest athletes take the defensive mantles while the shortest ones are used to pressure and create chances in the offence.

Average height and weight of World Cup soccer players

The average height of a World Cup footballer in 2018 was 6 feet, while in 2022 was 5 feet 9 inches. The tallest was the Croatian goalkeeper, who stood at 6 feet 7 inches, and the shortest was some midfielders at 5 feet 5 inches for the former.

In the 2018 World Cup, the average footballer's weight was 170 pounds or 72 kilograms, with the heaviest player being Roman Torres, 218 pounds or 99 kilograms, and the lightest being some midfielders who weighed 130 pounds or 59 kilograms.

Advantages of short footballers

Average height of female soccer players
Erling Haaland of Manchester City during the Premier League match against Everton FC at Goodison Park on 14 May 2023 in Liverpool, England. Photo: James Gill
Source: Getty Images

Although height in soccer does not matter as much as in other sports, being shorter has its advantages, such as;

  • Greater speed and acceleration
  • Low centre of gravity for better balance and stability
  • Better ball and body control
  • More agility
  • Camouflage behind defenders and make cleaner runs.

Advantages of tall footballers

Taller players have a larger frame with ideal physical fitness. Since football is a contact sport, they often excel in long passes, defending against crosses, corner kicks, and aerial possession. Here are some advantages of being tall.

  • Aerial ability
  • Long-range passing and shooting
  • Physical presence
  • Defensive ability

Can a tall person play soccer?

Average height of European soccer players
Phil Foden of Manchester City (R) is challenged by Nathan Patterson of Everton (L) during the Premier League match at Goodison Park on 14 May 2023 in Liverpool, England. Photo: Clive Brunskill
Source: Getty Images

Anyone can play the sport since it favours all heights. Some of the greatest athletes of all time in the sport, such as Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, were short. In contrast, others, such as Zlatan Ibrahimović and Cristiano Ronaldo, were tall.

Is height important for football?

Height is essential in football since it gives an upper hand regarding aerial duel and possession. It provides extra help in the defensive and goal-keeping positions by breaking critical crosses from the opponent's side.

What is the average height of a Premier League centre-back?

In the Premier League, one of the most significant leagues in the world, defenders stand at an average height of 6 feet. Although in modern-day football, shorter defenders are being used since they are faster to keep up with the strikers, who are mostly quick on their feet.

What percentage of men are over 6 feet?

Average height of male soccer players
Liverpool's Andrew Robertson (L) battles with Arsenal's Bukayo Saka (R) during the Premier League at Anfield on 9 April 2023 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Photo: Dave Howarth
Source: Getty Images

According to American statistics, only 14.5 percent of their male population are over 6 feet, with only 1 percent reaching 6 feet 4 inches. On the other hand, in the United States of America, women over 6 feet barely get a 1 percent mark.

Who is the smallest centre-back in football?

Standing 5 feet 9 inches or 175 centimetres tall, Lisandro Martinez is the shortest centre-back in the Premier League.

Unlike basketball, soccer players do not have to be tall or make high ducks to be considered the best. They have to be skilled in ball possession, control, pass accuracy and fast on their feet. The average height of soccer players globally has proven that anyone can play the sport if they are talented, quick on their feet, and have reasonable ball control.

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Claudia Kogi photo
Claudia Kogi
Claudia Kogi is a Kenyan content creator with over 3 years of experience. Claudia joined Sportsbrief.com as a writer in January 2022, covering sports and relatable content.