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The tallest and the shortest footballers in Europe's top 5 leagues

  • We take a look at the tallest and shortest players in each of Europe's top 5 leagues in the 2019/20 season.
  • From short, lightning-quick wingers, to tall, towering goalkeepers - football has it all.
Rupam Nag
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 03 May 2020, 16:01 IST

Thibaut Courtois is an imposing figure between the sticks for Real Madrid
Thibaut Courtois is an imposing figure between the sticks for Real Madrid

If it is your dream to make it as a professional footballer, your height is almost certainly not going to be a roadblock in your quest to glory.

If you're standing tall at well over 6 feet, it is likely that you'll make a good goalkeeper, target-man or perhaps a towering defender. Of course, there are exceptions like Javier Mascherano and Philipp Lahm, who were both solid defenders despite being comfortably under 6 feet in height.

Philipp Lahm is one of the world
Philipp Lahm is one of the world's greatest ever right-backs, standing at only 5'7"

On the other hand, if your height is not your biggest strength, you can always make good use of that low centre of gravity and be the best dribbler you can. Then again, there are outliers like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is 6'5" and still bamboozles defences with his footwork.

As you can see, there are always a few advantages to build your game around, irrespective of what height group you belong to. Here, we take a look at the most extreme examples of the same, from each of Europe's top five leagues. Always remember, if they can make it professionally, so can you!

Here are the tallest and shortest footballers in each of Europe's top 5 leagues.


Serie A


Tallest: Demba Thiam (6'8", Goalkeeper, SPAL, Senegal)

Thiam is used to being the tallest player on the pitch
Thiam is used to being the tallest player on the pitch

22 year-old Senegalese goalkeeper Demba Thiam might be fourth on SPAL's choice of goalkeepers, but he's first in the entire league when it comes to height.

Thiam is 6'8" tall, and the only player in all of Italy's first-division who comes close is, interestingly, his teammate Karlo Letica. Although neither are likely to get any first-team action any time soon due to the presence of Etrit Berisha, there certainly seems to be something between SPAL and tall goalkeepers.

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Shortest : Lorenzo Insigne (5'4", Forward, Napoli, Italy)

Height hasn
Height hasn't restricted Insigne from making it big.

A much more familiar name, it is safe to say that Lorenzo Insigne is better than any footballer who is around the same height as him. Consistently one of the best wingers in the world, Insigne has used his lack of height perfectly, excelling as a speed dribbler.

Racking up over 250 league appearances for a big club like Napoli, the Italian is an inspiration to short aspirants all over the globe.


Ligue 1


Tallest: Lovre Kalinić (6'7", Goalkeeper, Toulouse, Croatia)

Kalinić has appeared in some big games over the past couple of seasons.
Kalinić has appeared in some big games over the past couple of seasons.

Although he's on loan from English club Aston Villa, 30 year-old Lovre Kalinić is the tallest footballer in all of France's top division.

Since joining in January 2020, Kalinić has played four games for Toulouse, keeping two clean sheets. Surprisingly, he has already equalled first-choice goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet's clean sheet tally for the season!.

He has also appeared 19 times for Croatia, even making an appearance in the 2018 World Cup, where his nation lost to France in the finals. However, the 6'7" goalkeeper has often struggled with consistency.

Shortest: Frédéric Sammaritano (5'4", Midfielder, Dijon, France)

Sammaritano has enjoyed a 14 year all-French career
Sammaritano has enjoyed a 14 year all-French career

A relatively unheard name unless you are an avid fan of the Ligue 1, it might be surprising to learn that Frédéric Sammaritano once played Champions League football for Auxerre in 2010/11.

A solid playmaker whose ceiling was being a starter for mid-table French sides like Dijon and Ajaccio, the 34 year-old 5'4" Frenchman has had a career he can be proud of.


Bundesliga


Tallest: Jonas Hupe (6'6", Goalkepper, Borussia Dortmund, Germany)

Hupe would most certainly have to leave Dortmund to find first team football.
Hupe would most certainly have to leave Dortmund to find first team football.

Perhaps the notable only moment in Jonas Hupe's career so far as Dortmund's fifth-string keeper was when he made the bench against Barcelona in the Champions League this season. The 6'6" shot-stopper was included in the squad owing to complications to their second, third and fourth choice goalkeepers.

As you can guess, his services weren't required on the night. It'll be a significant surprise if his services are required by Dortmund on any other night in the near future, but never say never in football, especially when you are the tallest player in the league, and still only 20.

Shortest: Patrick Finger (5'4", Midfielder, Frankfurt, Germany)

Finger takes on the creative duties for Germany U16s
Finger takes on the creative duties for Germany U16s

Another player who plies his trade mainly for the youth team of his contracted club, Patrick Finger is certainly someone Frankfurt will hope can take the step up to the Bundesliga.

Playing as an attacking-midfielder, Finger has 7 direct goal involvements in 12 U19 Bundesliga matches. His short frame should cause no hindrance to the 19 year-old, and there is every possibility that he will make it big in the future.


LaLiga


Tallest: Thibaut Courtois (6'6", Goalkeeper, Real Madrid, Belgium)

Courtois is one of the best goalkeepers in the world
Courtois is one of the best goalkeepers in the world

Arguably the best player in this season so far for Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois has consistently been one of the best keepers in the world for a few years now, barring that rough patch early in his Los Blancos spell.

The Belgian uses his 6'6" frame to full-effect, and makes some jaw dropping saves on a regular basis. He already has a World Cup Golden Glove, league titles in every country he has played in, the FA Cup, the Copa Del Rey, the League Cup, a World Cup Bronze medal and a host of other individual accolades. He's still only 27, and could get even better.


Shortest: José Alonso Lara (5'3", Forward, Sevilla, Spain)

Lara played in the U17 World Cup in 2017
Lara played in the U17 World Cup in 2017

If you closely followed the FIFA U17 World Cup that was hosted by India back in 2017, you might remember José Alonso Lara from the Spanish squad that made it all the way to the final, eventually succumbing to a Phil Foden masterclass.

Lara played 6 games in that World Cup, including the final, but failed to score or provide an assist. The 5'3" winger has also made a LaLiga appearance, and whether more of those follow remains to be seen.


Premier League


Tallest: Dan Burn (6'7", Defender, Brighton & Hove Albion, England)

Burn is now a regular for the Seagulls
Burn is now a regular for the Seagulls

The only defender on this list, Dan Burn is a fairly familiar face among Premier League fans. His towering 6'7" frame is intimidating to say the least, and to add to that, he has upped his game to become a first-team regular at a pretty good Premier League team.

Playing alongside Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk in a back-three, Burn has helped Graham Potter's exciting Brighton side keep six clean-sheets in 25 games in the league so far. Kudos to him for rising up the ranks in the way that he has.

Shortest: Ryan Fraser (5'3", Forward, AFC Bournemouth, Scotland)

Fraser is the shortest, but also one of the quickest players in the Premier League
Fraser is the shortest, but also one of the quickest players in the Premier League

Another household name in the UK, Scottish winger Ryan Fraser is the shortest player in the English top division. Not only is Fraser one of the best players in an attacking Bournemouth side, he's also one of the best players in all of England to not play for one of the Premier League's 'Big 6' clubs.

Although he has had a fairly underwhelming 2019/20 season so far, he remains an excellent footballer, capable of running rings around any defender when at his best. His speed, guile and technique on the ball have made him a fan favourite at the Vitality stadium.


Published 03 May 2020, 16:01 IST
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