In soccer, there aren't many sights that are more impressive than a well-timed, perfectly-struck shot bursting the back of the net with power, precision and speed.
Throughout the long history of association football, we've been blessed with some wonderfully gifted players capable of producing such strikes, whether it's at a dazzling World Cup semi-final under the floodlights, or a dramatic FA Cup third round giant killing on a wet, muddy pitch in the depths of an English winter.
Every single fan will have their own special memories of soccer shots that have blown them away. But there are some which cut through into the mainstream and become folklore for footy lovers all over the planet (just think Roberto Carlos' "impossible" free kick for Brazil against France in 1997, for example).
In this article, we'll be diving into some of those renowned efforts on goal, focusing specifically on the most powerful — aka the fastest — strikes that have ever been seen on a professional football pitch. We'll list a few of the most esteemed ball strikers to have played the game, and we'll take you through the 7 fastest soccer shots ever.
Professional football has been changed and shaped enormously by wealth, particularly in the modern era. Clubs now have extensive staff teams and various different departments, with every aspect of training and match preparation delegated to a range of experts and professionals.
Dedicated analysts help break down performances and design tactical plans for each match, while sports scientists and fitness staff are used to ensure that players are in tip top shape and have all the physical and nutritional preparation and education they need.
As part of this broad shift that has taken place in football over the last 30 years, people in the game now have access to numbers and statistics that help them assess performance and gain a much more accurate idea of a number of different game-related metrics and figures. One of the things we're able to analyse now is the power — aka speed — of a shot.
However, it's worth noting that many of these figures are estimates, and the private nature of each club's individual player monitoring system means we don't know what kind of physical numbers players are recording behind closed doors.
We're also not able to scour the entire history of football and know for certain what the strongest shots ever are, so our list of the top seven fastest soccer shots all come from the modern era.
The physical prowess of professional sportsplayers is something we can take for granted at times. In tennis, top players such as Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal have regularly been known to serve at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour.
In Major League Baseball, the fastest pitch ever recorded was a rapid 105.1 m/ph fast ball from Aroldis Chapman. And in soccer, a number of players have recorded jaw-droppingly powerful shots that equally show the physical might of the people operating at the highest levels of pro sport.
In this section of the article, we're going to take you through the seven fastest soccer shots ever recorded.
One of Ghana's finest ever footballing exports, Tony Yeboah became a cult figure during his time at Leeds United in the mid-1990s. Signed for £3.4 million from Eintracht Frankfurt, he made over 60 appearances in the Premier League and created some special memories for fans during that time.
However, his goal against Wimbledon arguably remains the most magical of all. A 95.7 m/ph strike that was rifled in off the underside of the bar from just outside the penalty area, this screamer won Goal of the Season and contributed to a hat trick from the prolific Yeboah that day. It remains one of the fastest ever soccer shots.
French forward David Trezeguet remains one of Juventus' most prolific goal scorers, grabbing 171 goals in 320 games for the Turin giants. However, it was in a continental match for his former Ligue 1 club Monaco against Manchester United that he scored one of his most memorable goals of all.
A rocket of a shot from just inside the box on the right hand side of goal, this breakaway effort reportedly reached a top speed on 154.4 km/h (aka 95.9 m/ph), smashing against the back of the net and giving goalkeeper Fabien Barthez absolutely no chance of making a save.
David Hirst may not be as well known a figure as some of the other players in this list, but he deserves his place as much as anyone else. The English striker was a Sheffield Wednesday stalwart who played for the club from 1986 to 1997, and it was toward the end of that lengthy spell that he smashed a stunning shot that went down in Premier League history.
A half-volley against North London giants Arsenal, Hirst's strike reached an incredible 114 miles per hour (183km/h), thankfully for David Seaman, smashing against the crossbar and back out into play again, with the follow up shot eventually going wide.
Younger fans may know Koeman first and foremost as a manager, his impressive spells at Ajax, Feyenoord and Southampton having been followed by big managerial moves to Barcelona and the Netherlands national team.
But as a player, he was an instrumental figure in some of Barca's greatest ever teams, and he played a decisive role in giving his club their first ever European Cup. It was in 1992, the final year of the old-style European Cup before it was rebranded as the Champions League, when Koeman made history with thunderbolt free kick that registered at 116.8 miles per hour (188km/h) and gave Barca a 1-0 win over Serie A finalists Sampdoria.
Versatile former Blackburn Rovers, West Bromwich Albion and Millwall midfielder and full-back Steven Reid boasts the record for the most powerful strike in Premier League history, pipping Wednesday's Hirst to the post a decade later.
In a league match against Wigan, the Premier League stalwart, who was playing in central midfield for Blackburn at the time, picked up the ball around 25 yards from goal and leathered it first time past USA international goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
Registering at 189 km/h or 117.4 m/ph, this unbelievable strike will live long in the memory of any fan who was there that day.
Arjen Robben was a player who matured like fine wine, winning countless trophies under master tacticians such as Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti whilst in his final few years at Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.
But it was at his former club Real Madrid where in 2009 he struck one of the most powerful soccer shots ever seen in soccer. The goal flew under the radar a little as this was during a friendly match against Borussia Dortmund, but that takes absolutely nothing away from the finish — the Dutch winger struck this left-footed volley with pure venom, and it managed to reach a staggering top speed of 190 km/h, or 118 miles p/h.
This list has been packed with some star names, but it's unlikely you will have heard of this man. Brazilian Ronny Heberson was never capped for his country, although he played for some strong sides across Europe, the most famous of which were Portuguese giants Sporting CP.
Back in November 2006, when Ronny was still cutting his teeth in Portugal, he scored a free kick that is now widely regarded as the most powerful soccer shot ever. Whacking the ball with his left foot from the far right corner of the penalty box, his close range set piece against Associação Naval 1º de Maio measured in at an astounding 210.9 kilometres per hour, which is around 131.8 miles per hour.
If you watch the video here, it's so fast you can barely see it move. Amazingly, this remains the only goal Ronny ever scored for Sporting. What a goal to have on your record, though.
We only know what the fastest soccer shot in history is because of huge developments in the world of technology and science in recent decades. The way that we understand and discuss the beautiful game has changed significantly, as people have increasingly pioneered new ways of developing the game using computers and innovative technology.
If you'd like to find out more about one crucial way in which professional soccer has adapted to use forward-thinking technology, check out our article on the growing role of GPS devices in soccer. You might be surprised at how much of an impact GPS tracking is having on the professional game these days.