10 Shortest Football Players - Stature and Success Measured

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 17. ožujka 2024.

Being short of height is not a disadvantage in football as it is in some other sports. Just take a look at the best player ever - Lionel Messi and his 170 centimetres. Diego Armando Maradona was even shorter for five centimetres. Yet today’s game is more physical, so it’s well worth noting how the shortest players in the top five leagues fair out.

Taking into account only players who are currently at a club from Serie A, Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1. At the same time, having at least one appearance in these national divisions. If the players are of the same height, we rank them based on the number of appearances in said leagues.

We’re listing more than 10 here, as the first entry spot is shared by these following men who all measure up to 167 cm.

#10 Pedro (Lazio/Spain) - 167 cm, RW, 461 games in the top five leagues


#10 Portu (Girona/Spain) - 167 cm, RW, 241 games in the top five leagues

Portu RSO.jpg
By Giovanni Batista Rodriguez from San Sebastian-Donostia, Espa?a - DSC_2465, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

#10 Maxime Lopez (Fiorentina/France) - 167 cm, DM, 222 games in the top five leagues

Maxime Lopez

#10 Alvaro Garcia (Rayo Vallecano/Spain) - 167 cm, LW, 134 games in the top five leagues

#10 Oscar Melendo (Granada/Spain) - 167 cm, AM, 127 games in the top five leagues

Oscar Melendo

#9 Mohamed El Arouch (Lyon/France) - 166 cm, CM, 2 games in the top five leagues

A teenager at 19 and the youngest person on this list, Mohamed El Arouch is the only one who can realistically hope to leave the group of shortest players. A product of Lyon's famed youth academy, El Arouch has played in three games for the senior team, two of them coming in Ligue 1.

#8 Benson Manuel (Burnley/Belgium) - 166 cm, RW, 4 games in the top five leagues

Benson Manuel

Just getting his licks in the Premier League, Benson Manuel (26) is a veteran of the Belgian league primarily, with 84 games there for Royal Antwerp, Royal Excel Mouscron, Genk, and Lierse. But for Burnley, he currently has six appearances in the top division and another 40 in the Championship and cups. The right wing player has scored 14 goals and made four assists in his total 44 matches for Burnley.

#7 Ablie Jallow (Metz/Gambia) - 166 cm, RW, 14 games in the top five leagues

Wing players are one of the most common positions for shorter players, as the heigh provides a lower centre of gravity - useful for changing direction while dribbling. Ablie Jallow utilized his natural gifts for Metz in Ligue 1 in 14 matches, providing three goals and one assist. In total, the 25-year-old has 123 professional club games and has represented Gambia 27 times, scoring seven goals for his country.

While the shortest active players we lined up here are all outfield players, there used to be a time when short goalkeepers were a thing.

#6 Dodo (Fiorentina/Brazil) - 166 cm, RB, 38 games in the top five leagues

Domilson Cordeiro dos Santos 2017.jpg
By Agencia de Noticias ANDES - ECUADOR-BRASIL SUB 20, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Not to be confused with his namesake who represented Roma and Inter, this Dodo is 25 years old and plays as a right-back, rather than a left-back. The 25-year-old made a €14,500,000 move from Shakhtar Donetsk to Fiorentina in the summer of 2022, playing 58 total games for Viola. He played a season's worth of Serie A football - 38 matches, providing five goal involvements (1G/5A).

#5 Franco Cervi (Celta/Spain) - 166 cm, LW, 81 games in the top five leagues

DimK-BenfikaL (cropped).jpg
By Football.ua, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

With a considerable career behind him, Franco Cervi tops the 166 cm tall players in the top five leagues. Although he is primarily known for his days with Benfica, where he played in 172 matches, scoring 21 goals and making 26 assists. With 21 of those games coming in the Champions League. For Celta, the left-wing Argentinian has scored four goals and made eight assists in 81 La Liga games. The two-time Portugal champions has even represented Argentina four times.

#4 Fran Beltran (Celta/Spain) - 165 cm, CM, 186 games in the top five leagues

“Siempre hay que so?ar y vuestras gestas nos hacen ir so?ando, so?ando, so?ando…” 01 (cropped).jpg
By Diario de Madrid - Diario de Madrid - “Siempre hay que so?ar y vuestras gestas nos hacen ir so?ando, so?ando, so?ando…”, CC BY 4.0, Link

Back-to-back Celta Vigo players show that not only can you be successful as a shorter footballer, but that a team can have multiple players and still perform highly. Fran Beltran plays at a slightly unusual position for a shorter football player - as a central midfielder. While he won't be winning any goalkeeper long-balls, the 25-year-old already has 274 appearances as a member of Celta and Rayo Vallecano. With 186 of those coming in the Spanish La Liga for Celta. Beltran also recorded a senior appearance in Spain's star-studded national team midfield.

#3 Bryan Zaragoza (Bayern Munich/Spain) - 164 cm, LW, 23 games in the top five leagues

Bryan Zaragoza is officially on loan from Granada for the second part of the 2023/2024 season, but his move will be made permanent in the summer. With a fee of €13,000,000 provided by the Bavarians, after the €4,000,000 paid for the loan. Hence, the 22-year-old is one of the shortest players who is representing the highest-quality club - FCB. Besides his single cap for Spain so far, he can brag with two appearances in the Bundesliga and 21 in La Liga. Where he made eight goal involvements (6G/2A).

#2 Jimmy Cabot (Lens/France) - 164 cm, RM, 111 games in the top five leagues

RC Lens - FC Lorient (23-04-2019) 30.jpg
By Supporterhéninois - Own work, CC0, Link

While Jimmy Cabot is the only one of these active short players who hasn't represented his country even at a youth level, he has made quite the impact in Ligue 1. Playing in 111 games divided between Angers, Lorient, Troyes, and his current side Lens. The right-midfield player scored 10 goals and made 16 assists in these matches in the top French division.

#1 Tariq Lamptey (Brighton/Ghana) - 163 cm, RB,83 games in the top five leagues

Tariq Lamptey 2022.jpg
By jamesboyes - https://www.flickr.com/photos/37972999@N07/52252953840/, CC BY 2.0, Link

For around a season, Tariq Lamptey was considered as the next great Premier League right-back. While he hasn’t reached that status, the London-born Ghana international is still making strides at the age of 23. Having endured four major injuries since the start of the 2020/2021 campaign, it's not surprising that Lamptey hasn't kept the limelight on him. Still, he has recorded 83 Premier League appearances, one for Chelsea and the rest for Brighton & Hove Albion. Providing 10 goal involvements (1G/9A).

Regardless of his physical stature, Lamptey is the big man in the Ghana national team, which he has represented four times so far.


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