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The Top 10 Fastest Goals In Soccer History

The Top 10 Fastest Goals In Soccer History

Professional soccer coaches will spend hours preparing tactics and ideas for each match, studying the opposition team for weaknesses and working with their assistants and analysts to figure out the best way to get a result. They'll stay up late at night analysing performances and tweaking their starting line-up and put in hard work on the training ground to ensure that they communicate their thoughts to their players and put them in a position to go out onto the field of play and take the points.

And then, in the blink of an eye, the whole plan can come crashing down with an early goal. In football, a team's outlook on the entire game can be shifted completely by a goal in the first few minutes of play. And the earlier the blow comes, the more damage it could potentially cause. Over the years, a number of players have stolen the headlines by slamming the ball home just moments after the referee's whistle has been blown for the first time. But what are the fastest goals that have ever been scored in association football?

In this article, we'll be answering that question, taking you through all the top contenders before explaining which player has the record for scoring the fastest goal in soccer history. But before we get into that, we're going to quickly explain a couple of basics surrounding the opening moments of a professional soccer match.

Kick-offs Explained

Every soccer match at any level — from Premier League down to amateur Sunday league — starts with a kick-off.

A kick-off is when the ball is placed on the centre spot (a marking on the halfway line in the very centre of the field of play) and one team will begin play by passing to a teammate. Kick-offs are used to start both halves of a match and both halves of extra time (if played), and they're also used to restart play after a goal has been scored (in these situations, they're taken by the team who conceded). The team who kicks off at the start of a match is decided by a coin toss initiated by the referee.

Often, teams will attempt to launch the ball deep into the opposition team's half as quickly as possible after taking a kick-off. This is designed to gain territory and put pressure on the opponents' defensive line immediately, and sometimes it can lead to some pretty dangerous early chances. While some teams devise ways of benefiting from well-rehearsed kick-off moves, t's pretty rare that a kick-off will lead directly to a goal. However, as you'll see shortly, this often-overlooked type of set piece can create some super exciting moments.

How Long is a Soccer Match?

Once a team has kicked off, the referee will start their stopwatch and begin keeping track of time. This is a crucial aspect of their job, and if a referee fails to adequately keep time or add on an appropriate amount of stoppage time (extra time added at the end of each half to account for stoppages made due to fouls, set pieces, substitutions and injuries), they will face serious scrutiny. 

In total, soccer matches are 90 minutes long; this is split between two periods of 45 minutes, with a 15-minute half-time break in the middle, and some additional stoppage time added at the end of each half. There's plenty of time, then, for players to find themselves an opening; however, for some players, it's only taken a matter of seconds to get the ball in the back of the net…

The Fastest Goal In Soccer: A Tricky Debate

Before we start listing the most rapid-fire goals ever scored in association football, it's important to note that this is a hotly contested subject. Many people within the sport disagree about which player should be granted the status of having scored the quickest goal, and as experts such as Ray Spiller of the Association of Football Statisticians have argued, the fact that there is no official system for recognising the timing of goals means that disputes about these records are inevitable.

What's more, in competitions such as the FA Cup, which has been going for 150 years, the oldest records related to the competition do not always have details such as goal timings, which makes these calculations even harder. 

The Guinness Book of World Records has attempted to record statistics relating to football's fastest goals, but there has been confusion here too. Many of the goals listed in their records weren't filmed at the time, so exact timing of goals is difficult to judge. Meanwhile, goals scored in amateur or youth competitions aren't deemed worthy to be included by some people, while other records have since been tarnished by other factors; for example, Nawaf Al-Abed's 2009 goal for Saudi side Al-Hilal in the Prince Faisal U21s Cup against Al-Shoulla has been discounted in the eyes of many due to the fact that Al-Hilal were later judged to have broken the competition's rules by fielding six players over the age of 21. 

Debates about the fastest ever goals are likely to continue, but all the goals included in the list below have been judged as valid by a footballing authority. Continue reading to find out about all the speediest strikes in history…

The Top 10 Fastest Goals In Soccer History

#9. Carlos Almeida vs Associação Atlética de Arganil

Two players squeeze into our top 10 with identically-timed goals, according to the records. First up is Carlos Almeida, a Portuguese lower league player who scored from a stunning long-distance strike for fourth division side Oliveira do Hospital against Associação Atlética de Arganil in 2011, after just 3 seconds. Check out the wonder strike here.

#9. Megan Searson vs Minnesota Crookston

Another goal scored after only 3 seconds, this strike is the fastest ever goal scored by a female soccer player. Megan Searson's record-breaking goal came for college side UoMA Marauders in a 2-0 victory over Minnesota Crookston in 2016. 

#7. Cheung Sai Ho vs Instant-Dict

Back in 1993, Hong Kong youth player Cheung Sai Ho marked his place in his nation's footballing history books by breaking the record for the fastest ever soccer goal. Aged just 18, he scored in a Portsmouth Cup match in the UK after only 2.8 seconds had passed.

#7. Ricardo Oliveira vs Soriano Interior

This goal was scored by Ricardo Olivera for Uruguayan side Negro Capital against Soriano Interior in December 1998. Tied with Cheung's record, the goal came after an incredible 2.8 seconds, direct from kick-off (just like every goal in this list).

#6. Marc Burrows vs Eastleigh Reserves

Regarded for a long time as England's fastest-ever goal, this effort was scored by amateur player Marc Burrows for Cowes Sports Reserves against Eastleigh Reserves, in a game that was impacted by strong winds (which reportedly helped steer Burrows' shot toward goal with speed). The English Football Association ratified that Burrows' goal beat the keeper from distance after only 2.56 seconds in the Wessex League First Division match.

#5. Jack Lyons vs Chatham Town

Kent-based semi-professional club Rusthall FC don't tend to make headlines across the footballing world, but their Under 18s match against Chatham Town in September 2023 contained a special moment. Jack Lyons' long-distance strike from the halfway line reputedly burst the back of the net just 2.52 seconds after kick-off, making it the fastest ever goal in an FA youth game.

#4. Dominik Nagy vs Mosonmagyaróvár

Supporters at a match in NB II, the second tier of Hungarian football, were recently treated to a spectacular long-range effort from 28-year-old winger Dominik Nagy. Straight from kick off, Nagy blasted the ball from over 50 yards to help his side Nyíregyháza Spartacus to a 3-0 win against domestic rivals Mosonmagyaróvár. According to the records, the goal came after just 2.4 seconds.

#3. Ryan Hall vs Cockfosters

Guinness World Records assessors are currently taking a look at English semi-professional player Ryan Hall's goal for Croydon against Cockfosters in February 2024, in the Southern Counties East Football League. Just pipping Nagy to make his way into the top 3, Ryan Hall's kick-off strike was in the back of the net after just 2.3 seconds. Croydon's vice-chair Tony Blencowe said after the game "It looks like it could be at least the quickest in English football" — a remarkable achievement.

#2. Vuk Bakic vs FK Dorcol

Debates about whether or not Hall's effort will beat Bakic have not been fully resolved, but right now it's widely accepted that the second-fastest goal ever scored in football was converted by Serbian Vuk Basic. Coming after an incredible 2.2 seconds, Basic's goal was scored for GSP Polet in a Serbian 2. League match against FK Dorcol back in 2012.

#1. Gavin Stokes vs Clydebank

The man widely regarded as having the record for the fastest-ever goal in soccer is Gavin Stokes, a Scottish player who blasted the ball into the top corner straight from kickoff against Clydebank in a junior match in the West of Scotland Super League First Division in 2017. From approximately 46 metres out, Stokes scored this record-breakaing strike after an astounding 2.1 seconds, helping to lead his team to a 3-0 victory.

What Is The Fastest Goal In Premier League History?

The player with the record for the fastest goal in Premier League history is Shane Long, an Irish international who played for various top flight English clubs including Reading, West Brom, Hull and Southampton. It was with the latter club that he broke the record, scoring after only 7.69 seconds in April 2019 against Watford.

Want to find out more about some historic Premier League records? Check out our list of the Top 10 Players with the most goals in a Premier League season.