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Article of Johntvs Dreams:Soccer Most Fit Athletes


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Though John may have to admit that the media conspiracy is over now (where is he anyway, hasn't posted in a while). Dalla Costa is right that I can't think of any fat top level soccer players (though the same could be said about hockey) but I can think of a few chubby ones (Maradona, Ailton, can anyone think of a few others?). However, the fact the chubby players stood out so much is probably also testiment to the general fitness level of soccer players.

Here's the pitch for soccer

Sun Special: Part 6 of a six-part series



Brazil's Ronaldinho, left, trains with teammates in preparation for the World Cup 2010 qualifying game. Soccer is a unique combination of skill and conditioning. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Which sport has the best athletes?

In this case, appearances aren't deceiving.

When was the last time you saw a fat soccer player?

If you have, it's probably not at a highly competitive level.

The debate over which sport demands the most of its athletes is specious. Even overweight, endurance-challenged football players or baseball players who require a shot of oxygen after a sprint of 270 ft, have tremendous demands placed on their body. They have specific skill sets.

Upon further review though, the argument they are superbly

conditioned athletes holds as much water as a sieve.

You can play specific positions in almost every sport without being in good shape. Frequent stoppages and player substitutions can hide a player that is not fit.

Not in soccer. If you can't keep up on the soccer pitch, there is no substitution policy that allows you to hide.

Once you are substituted for, there is no returning to the field. In professional matches, a team only has three substitutes a game. A coach can't be using one up on someone who isn't in good enough shape to play.

The nature of the sport demands its players be the best conditioned team athletes of any sport. A game is 90 minutes in duration.

The only natural stoppages in play come from fouls, when the ball goes out of play, injury or substitutions.

We could bore you with the technical aspect of why a soccer player is the most fit.

A player covers an average of 10,000 metres a game (about six miles) but it's often more. A player is constantly in motion. They go from a slight jog to a sprint and back to a jog. A player is required to accelerate and decelerate with every change of possession and have the agility to change direction quickly. Studies show a player may sprint as many as 19 times every four or five minutes and change direction or speed every five or six seconds. The players' heart level is constantly elevated for most of the 90 minutes at what would be considered optimum training level. That level rises considerably during sprints and one-on-one battles which comprise a large portion of the game.

That's it for the technical stuff. The bottom line is simple . . . there is no more physically demanding team sport.

Soccer is a unique combination of skill and conditioning. The game is played, for the most part, only with the feet. A player must run, pass, shoot, dribble effectively after running more than six miles. He needs to sustain a good vertical leap in order to head the ball. In the late '70s and early '80s, one of the most popular television series was the World Superstars television competition. Some of the best athletes from various sports competed in 10 events.

Canadian soccer player Brian Budd won it three times in a row. It forced organizers to establish a rule that anyone who won the event three times could no longer compete.

As it turns out, some of the best soccer players in the world also happen to be the most fit.



"A soccer player has a great need for aerobic fitness. They have to be extremely aerobically fit and at the same time, have enough fast-twitch fibres to allow them that explosive speed when they need to break away. They need a lot of agility -- and a little acting ability, too. Most injuries in soccer occur when they are trying to avoid a collision. That quick, last-second manoeuvre to avoid hitting someone else often leads to knee ligament injuries, particularly. That, and the contact aspect of soccer -- being kicked, stepped on, those kind of injuries are big in soccer."

Dr. Bob Litchfield, medical director of the Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic at the University of Western Ontario.



1. Kaka Milan

The Milan attacking midfielder isn't the biggest player around but he has the ability to suddenly appear in places no one expects him to be. In the tough-tackling Italian league, he withstands physical assaults which would wilt other athletes.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United

He has a turn of pace like few other players. The Manchester United forward is a wizard with his feet. He is able to control the ball at great speed and has a flair for the dramatic. Ronaldo usually finds himself against the opposition's toughest marker. His fitness allows him to produce moments of brilliance late in games.

3. Steven Gerrard


The Liverpool midfielder is called a box-to-box player, a player whose area of operation extends from one penalty area to the other. He is the motor which makes his team run. Tireless, he's always on the ball regardless of scoreline. His strength allows him to score from distance.

4. John Terry


The England and Chelsea central defender is a key element to both clubs. He is the man who often marks the other teams best player. He has a combination of strength and speed. Terry often finds himself in the other team's penalty area on set pieces. He can elevate and is strong in the air. Almost never substituted for.

5. Gianluca Zambrotta


This choice might surprise many. Zambrotta is an Italian national team player who moved from Juventus to Barcelona and is considered one of the most complete players in the world. He can play the midfield, wing and fullback position. A tough tackler, he is also known for his charging runs down the line.

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Well no arguments on Maradona but in defence of Ailton, his face is fat and he is built like a fire hydrant, but I don't think he is 'fat' per se but more along the line of the classic 'barrel-chested' body type. Let others be the judge:


And he has smokin' hot wife (for a fatty).

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I said he was chubby not fat. I do agree it is partly his body type but I think he could lose some extra pounds as well. The picture you posted is one of the slimmer pictures I have seen of him. He has certainly long been the target of jokes by German soccer fans because of his size and it is amusing seeing him run because he is incredibly fast for someone so chubby so it looks strange.

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quote:Originally posted by Grizzly

Though John may have to admit that the media conspiracy is over now (where is he anyway, hasn't posted in a while).

From John himself, I don't think he'll mind me repeating this.

quote:I sort of got turned of The Voyageurs web after that shirt thing.

He's on the next episode of the Canuck Report if all goes well. You won't want to miss it.:D

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Guest Jeffery S.

The fittest player at Barça, so they say, is Xavi. Because he has the best physical resistance and the fastest recovery.

But I think the record for ground covered in a Barça match is Deco's, he went near 13 km one game. Just look at distance covered over the period of playing time, and consider that real time of play is usually near 55 minutes (don't know where they get that stat but I see it come up often), and that is incredible. In no other sport do players run so far in an equivalent time. Okay, maybe field hockey, maybe field lacrosse. I recall on Madrid game where they say that CAsillas covered more distance than Ronaldo, incredible really. Mind you, that was back when he was FAT. But also pretty damn lazy I'd say.

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quote:Originally posted by Grizzly

Though John may have to admit that the media conspiracy is over now (where is he anyway, hasn't posted in a while). Dalla Costa is right that I can't think of any fat top level soccer players (though the same could be said about hockey) but I can think of a few chubby ones (Maradona, Ailton, can anyone think of a few others?).

There are plently of NHL players who would be considered fat if they were soccer players. NHL players are more muscular of course, but few are any skinnier than Ailton in that picture above.

Clearly soccer players are the best athletes. Just playing 2 matches each week makes you fit even if you did little else. Whereas NHL, baseball players etc have to hit the gym right after a match to keep fit. That says it all, IMO.

That's not to say that the Colorado Rockies have the best hockey team in MLB. :D[:o)]

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Weird debate. It's comparing apples to oranges. About the only thing they have in common is they both have seeds.

Think you'd have a hard time finding soccer players who're worth a damn in any of contact sports familiar to North Americans. At least not in their current conditions.

Played grid iron football for a number of years and was considered a fast and tireless hard-hitter amongst other things but the fact of the matter was when the game got bogged down in the trenches yours truly would get as fatigued as any fat bastard I played beside or against. The physical requirements and recovery demands of that type of play far, far exceeded the arobic stamina advantage I enjoyed over the more muscular players on the field.

Anyone remember when the CFL expanded into the US? Suddenly had all those HUGE Yanks playing in our league but because of the more athletic requirements of the CFL game a lot of these giants shed a lot of pounds real quick. As players they adjusted their conditioning to the conditions they found themselves in.

I don't doubt most soccer players would win a marathon over most other pro atheletes. But I do doubt that a great many soccer players spend more energy than some of the other pro atheletes over an equal time frame. These men are very specialized to their craft. They're very finely tuned into the requirments of the trade and I honestly don't know how you can reasonably measure that "competatively" from one sport to the next.

I have a very hard time considering most soccer players to be physicaly superior atheletes than most hockey players. Different sure, but superior? Not a chance.

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