There was a time when football was considered a big man’s game, where physical prowess counted for more than mental and technical capabilities. Small, weedy players were considered a risk, and a strong, muscular presence was more preferable, especially at the back.
But recent events in football have rewritten history and tradition, and small, highly-skilled technical players are now at a premium. The likes of Messi, Mata and Cazorla, with their low centre of gravity, are able to get the better of their bigger counterparts most of the time.
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On our journey to compile the most accurate list of shortest football players of all time, we came across plenty of inaccuracies and historical evidence to make this a challenging proposition. The criterion for selection was that the footballer had to have played some sort of professional football during their career. This would be fitting to answer the eternal question:
In our quest to prepare a list that would be the final and definitive word on shortest football players in, we came up with this:
10) Rui Gil Soares de Barros
Height: 1.6m (5 feet 3 inches)
Standing at 1.6m, Rui Barros comes in at no. 10 on our list. Barros, who has now moved into management, was once a lethal attacking midfielder for Portugal and went on to represent Porto, Juventus and Marseille, among other clubs, in the late 80′s and 90′s.
For Barros, his height was a curse he was born with, but it was not something he had to suffer with. His playing style, ability to keep the ball at close quarters and explosive change of pace ensured that his stature would not hold him back from having a successful career in football. With 43 goals in 191 games with Porto to his name, it is quite clear that the tallest short footballer in the world had absolutely no problems in having a promising career.