10 shortest football players of all-time (2023)

There was a time when football was considered a big man’s game, where physical prowess counted for more than mental and technical capabilities.

But recent events in football have rewritten the tradition, and small, highly-skilled technical players are now at a premium. The likes of Lionel Messi, Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla are amongst the shortest footballers known worldwide. However, with their low center of gravity, they can get the better of their counterparts most of the time.

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 criteria for selection was that the footballer had to have played some sort of professional football during their career.

In this segment, we take a look at 10 of the shortest players of all time.

#10 Rui Gil Soares de Barros - 1.6 metres

10 shortest football players of all-time (1)

Standing at 1.6 metres, 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 1980′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 at Porto to his name, it is quite clear that the tallest short footballer in the world had no problems in having a promising career.

#9 Levi Porter - 1.6 metres

10 shortest football players of all-time (2)

Englishman Levi Porter is ninth on our list, and he too comes in at 5 feet 3 inches (1.6 metres). Porter is without a club currently, having represented Melton Town in 2019.

The 32-year-old plays as a winger (well, he can’t be a target man or a central defender, can he?), and is a product of the Leicester City youth academy. He also represented the England U-16 and U-17 teams in the early 2000's.

#8 Maximiliano Nicolás Moralez - 1.6 metres

10 shortest football players of all-time (3)

Whoever thought that compiling a list like this would be easy was mistaken. At 1.6 metres – the same height as the two players before him – Maximiliano Moralez is at eighth on our list.

Moralez, an Argentine attacking midfielder, currently plays for MLS side New York City FC. His nickname, Frasquito, which roughly translates to “little flask,” reveals a lot more about him than it should.

Don’t let his size fool you, though. Moralez was part of Argentina’s 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup-winning team, playing alongside the likes of Sergio Aguero and Mauro Zarate. His exploits in the tournament led to him finishing as the third-highest scorer and the second-best player behind Aguero.

#7 Madson Formagini Caridade - 1.6 metres

10 shortest football players of all-time (4)

Another footballer who stands at 5 feet 3 inches, Madson is a Brazilian who is currently without a club after leaving Sao Caetano. Having had a decent spell at Vasco da Gama, Madson was then found wanting and left for Santos.

At Santos, Madson was involved in an altercation with fans via video chat, along with fellow teammates Ze Eduardo and Felipe. Madson later had to apologise for his part in the altercation, in which one fan commented that goalkeeper Felipe had “lettuce hands.” One wonders what the fan must have said to anger Madson!

#7 Benedict Vilakazi - 1.57 metres

10 shortest football players of all-time (5)

Benedict Vilakazi, pictured here squaring up to Lukas Podolski, is our next entrant at. At 1.57 metres, Vilaskazi is a full 10 inches shorter than the German striker who stands at 1.82 metres. But that doesn’t put him off from having a go at players bigger than him, nor does it come in the way of his leadership skills, for which he has been noted and nicknamed the “Little Napoleon.”

Vilaskazi is a South African by nationality and has retired from professional football. A sex scandal blighted his career in 2006, for which he had to appear in court on allegations of statutory rape. He was later acquitted of the charges and last turned out for Botswana Meat Commission in Botswana.

#5 Samuel Peter Lee - 1.57 metres

10 shortest football players of all-time (6)

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Samuel “Sammy” Lee was first a player and then an assistant manager at Liverpool, working with the likes of Graeme Souness, Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez.

Lee was also assistant to Sam Allardyce at Bolton from 2005 to 2007, and his stature led to the fans calling him “Little Sam,” as opposed to Allardyce, who was referred to as “Big Sam.”

But before his managerial days, Lee was an accomplished footballer, making 197 appearances for Liverpool from 1976 to 1986. His stature did not prevent him from winning silverware.

During the 1980-81 European cup, Lee man-marked Bayern Munich stat Paul Breitner out of the game despite being outsized by his opponent! Clearly not a man to be taken lightly on account of his size.

#4 Jafal Rashed Al-Kuwari - 1.55 metres

10 shortest football players of all-time (7)

At 5 feet 1 inch, Jafal Rashed Al-Kuwari occupies fourth place on our list. A midfielder for Qatari side Al-Sadd, Al-Kuwari retired in 2009 following a farewell match against AC Milan. He captained the Qatari national team as well, and played beach football for the national team post-retirement

Although there was a time when Jafal was the shortest footballer in the world, he has been overtaken since by the three men on our list.

#3 Marcin Garuch - 1.55 metres

10 shortest football players of all-time (8)

Marcin Garuch, pictured above, stands at 1.55 metres or 5 feet and 1 inch tall. A Polish national, Garuch plays for a club named Miedz Legnica in the Puchar Polski.

Aged 33, Garuch has been known to excel in dead-ball situations and uses his size to move the ball quickly up to the forwards.

#3 Daniel Alberto Villalva Barrios - 1.54 metres

10 shortest football players of all-time (9)

Narrowly inching past the 5 feet mark, Daniel Villalva is the runner-up on our list of shortest footballers on the planet. Hailing from Argentina, Villalva is a striker for Goias Esporte Clube in Brazil.

Apart from being the shortest player in the team, Villalva also has another unique distinction to his name – in 2009, he became the youngest player to play for River Plate at 16 years, seven months, and two days.

This 27-year-old has also featured for Argentina in the 2009 U-17 World Cup.

#1 Élton José Xavier Gomes - 1.54 metres

10 shortest football players of all-time (10)

While this may not be an exhaustive list, as there are plenty of footballers around the world who haven't been recognized as much, Elton Jose Xavier Gomes is the shortest footballer of all time. At 1.54 metres, Elton Gomes is a Brazilian who plays as an attacking midfielder for UAE-based Al-Hamriya Sports Club.

The diminutive midfielder also played for Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti in 2007, and his strong performances led to the fans voting him in their best side of the decade.

His unique technique and dribbling has made him a fan favorite, and so has his trademark afro style.

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10 shortest football players of all-time? ›

Jack Shapiro, Staten Island Stapletons, 5'1″

Seven decades after playing in his first NFL game, Jack Shapiro earned recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest man to ever play in the league.

Who was the shortest NFL player in history? ›

Jack Shapiro, Staten Island Stapletons, 5'1″

Seven decades after playing in his first NFL game, Jack Shapiro earned recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest man to ever play in the league.

Who is the fastest NFL player? ›

Parris Campbell

Who is the 5 8 player in the NFL? ›

Cole Beasley becomes all-time TD leader for NFL players 5-foot-8 or shorter
Ht &
7Leo Lewis5-8
8Tavon Austin5-8
9Kevin Faulk5-8
7 more rows
Dec 7, 2020

Who is the smallest NFL player right now? ›

The shortest player in the league is New England Patriots running back J.J. Taylor, who stands at 5' 6". He's one of three players who stand below 5' 7", alongside Philadelphia Eagles RB Boston Scott and New Orleans Saints receiver and return specialist Deonte Harty.

Who is the shortest left tackle in the NFL? ›

As Tribune Review reporter Mark Kaboly wrote in a feature posted Friday, Beachum, at 6-foot-3, is the shortest starting left tackle in the NFL. At 303 pounds, he's the lightest starting left tackle in the NFL.

Who is the shortest QB to ever play? ›

Eddie LeBaron

LeBaron is listed at 5'7 making him one of the shortest quarterback in NFL history. Despite his size, LeBaron had a very successful career. He was the 1952 Rookie of the Year and a four time Pro Bowler. LeBaron is known for being the first quarterback in Dallas Cowboys history.

Who is the most popular player in the NFL? ›

popularity is the % of people who have a positive opinion of a contemporary football player. Find out more
  • 1 Tom Brady48%
  • 2 Patrick Mahomes46%
  • 3 Rob Gronkowski46%
  • 4 Aaron Rodgers41%
  • 5 Travis Kelce40%
  • 6 J. J. Watt40%
  • 7 Russell Wilson38%
  • Odell Beckham Jr. 37%

Who is the largest running back in the NFL? ›

Share All sharing options for: We'll never get sick of photos of Derrick Henry towering over other NFL running backs. Derrick Henry is, and always has been, a large human being. The Tennessee Titans star stands 6'3, 247 pounds, making him the heaviest running back in the NFL right now.

Who is the heaviest NFL player? ›

Gibson attended Decatur Central High School, where he lettered in football and track. He holds the record for heaviest NFL player ever, at 410 lbs, weighing over 440 lbs in high school.

Who is the 7 foot NFL player? ›

Who Was the Tallest NFL Player of All Time? As highlighted above, defensive tackle Richard Sligh was the tallest NFL player of all time, standing at exactly seven-feet tall.

Who is the youngest to play NFL? ›

Amobi Okoye became the youngest player selected in the history of the NFL draft when the Houston Texans made him the 10th overall pick in 2007. He remains one of only two teenagers ever chosen in the draft. Okoye emigrated from Nigeria to the United States at 12 years old and almost instantly tested into ninth grade.

Who is the 5 6 football player? ›

Who is the shortest player in the NFL? There are three players in the NFL who stand at 5-foot-6: New England Patriots running back J.J. Taylor, Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott and New Orleans Saints receiver/return specialist Deonte Harty.

Who is 5 9 in the NFL? ›

NFL wide receiver 2021 height 5'9"
DeAndre Hopkins202157.2
DeSean Jackson202128.4
Julio Jones202143.4
Marvin Jones202148.9
46 more rows

Who played the longest in NFL history? ›

Tom Brady has played the most NFL games at quarterback, 335. Jason Hanson holds the NFL record of 21 seasons with the same team as placekicker for the Lions. Jerry Rice played 303 games as a wide receiver, an NFL record. Bruce Matthews (left) played a record 296 games as an offensive lineman.

Who has been the tallest NFL player? ›

Who Was the Tallest NFL Player of All Time? As highlighted above, defensive tackle Richard Sligh was the tallest NFL player of all time, standing at exactly seven-feet tall. A 10th-round pick in 1967, he remains the tallest to this day, despite the gradual increase in the average height of American men since then.


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