The 18 Greatest World Records In Football History

Every week, footballers do incredible things, and we then say exaggerated things like, “I’ve never seen anything like that before!" Let's face it: It’s fun to talk about soccer and even more fun to exaggerate about soccer. But then there are the records, the things that really have never happened before, and those are just as fun. Here are the 18 world records in soccer you need to know about. (Note: Unless indicated otherwise, these happened in competitive games.)

The 18 Greatest World Records In Soccer

1. Longest Goal Ever Scored

Surprisingly, many of these world records in soccer happened recently. We start with Asmir Begovich, riding the wind of fate into the net in 2013. Poor Artur Boruc and his weird neck tattoo never had a chance. The ball traveled 97.5 yards. It was the third kick of the game. It gave Stoke City the lead over Southampton.

That one narrowly beat out Tim Howard’s one-bouncer for Everton just a few weeks prior. Adam Bogdan’s had a rough career, hasn’t he? He’s like world soccer’s Brandon Knight.

2. Longest Headed Goal Ever Scored

Say it with me, science friends: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Every action has an equal and opposite…

That’s what happens here, on a fluky play. With the keeper up to try for a late equalizer, Odds BK’s Jone Samuelsen redirected a blasted header in the opposite direction and bounced it into the net to secure the win in 2011. The header is measured at just over 58 meters (190 feet, 8.58 inches), and narrowly edged out this bit of dreadful goalkeeping for the title of "World’s Longest Goal Scored With Someone's Dome."

3. Most Red Cards Given In One Match

Oh, we like this one. In Argentina in 2011, referee Damian Rubino gave out THIRTY-SIX (36) red cards in a single match between Claypole and Victoriano Arenas. After a brawl erupted – where one fan even rushed the field, landed one sucker punch, and then ran for his goddamn life – Rubino sent off all 22 players and every substitute and some technical staff. The straight red card is one of the real wonders of sports, and this dude got to hand out thirty-six of them in a row? Stick him in the refereeing Hall of Fame. That’s where he belongs.


4. Most Expensive Player Transfer

Neymar's €222 million transfer fee from Barcelona to PSG in 2017 tops this list, which we predict will grow and grow and grow as television money goes even more bonkers and revenues continue to climb for the big clubs. For example, Manchester United just made £500 million in profit in a year for the first time in club history, and they aren’t even remotely, like, good at playing soccer.

Bale makes roughly €36.8 million per season in wages, which is about a million euros per goal scored. Keep getting them checks if they’ll give them to you, Neymar.

world records in soccer

5. Most Goals In A Calendar Year

Obviously, this one belongs to Lionel Messi, who scored 91 mostly ridiculous goals in 2012 to surpass Gerd Müller’s record. He set the Barcelona club record for career goals that year; he scored five in a Champions League match (a record) against Bayer Leverkusen; he scored a particularly obnoxious hat trick against Brazil for goals 49, 50, and 51.

I’ve seen that video a dozen times, but tonight I could only make it to goal number seven before I burst into laughter tears. Every goal is a joyous experience.

6. Longest Penalty Shootout

In the 2005 Namibian Cup, KK Palace and Civics drew 2-2 and went to penalty kicks, where Palace prevailed…after 48 kicks. The final in the shootout was 17-16.


7. Most Soccer Balls Juggled At The Same Time

In 2006 in a shopping mall in Stockholm, Victor Rubilar of Argentina managed to juggle five soccer balls (using his hands) at a time. More than eight years later, Dutchman Marko Vermeer matched the feat, presumably at a carnival or in the lobby of a movie theater or perhaps at an outdoor park on top of a picnic table. Then seven years later Isidro Silveira from Spain joined the club in front his less than impressed dog.

The video below shows Silveira pulling off the same stunt in 2016. Pretty cool.

8. Fastest Hat Trick

Sitting at the top of the list of all-time fastest hat tricks is a recent hat-trick from the Sheffield Sunday League in England. The all-time record belongs to 20-year old sports science student and Rawson Spring forward Alex Torr, who shattered the record in an astonishing 70 seconds. Torr compelted his record performance within the first 12 minutes and 10 seconds on Rawson's Sheffield Sunday League versus Winn Gardens.

9. Most Consecutive Hat Tricks

Stjepan Lucijanic scored hat tricks in five consecutive games in 2016. Five in a row! He tallied 20 goals in those five games.

He overtook the previous record holder Masashija Nakayamu who scored four consecutive hat tricks with 16 goals. Nakayamu was also the first Japanese player to ever score for his country in a World Cup that year. It was in a loss to Jamaica, but, eh, who cares. Nakayama was on fire in 1998 much like Lucijanic was tearing it up in the 7th division of Croatian football.

10. Fastest Shot Ever Recorded

This one surprised us a bit, because we’ve seen John Arne Riise’s howitzer against Manchester United in 2001 and also Zlatan’s against Anderlecht in 2013.

But O.K.A.Y. Sporting Lisbon defender Ronny, we see you and now we understand your power. The shot, by the way, was measured at 221 kilometers per hour, which is more than 137 miles per hour. Get. Out. Of. The. Way. This shot topped our list for the scariest and most powerful shot.

11. Most Divisions Played In By One Player With One Team

Nathan Pond, now a 35-year-old, played for Fleetwood Town in seven different flights of English soccer: English North West Counties League, Northern Premier League Division 1 North, Northern Premier League Premier Division, Conference North, Conference Premier, Football League 2 and Football League 1.

Fleetwood Town…more like Flightwood Town, am I right? Guys? Anyone? 

Anyways, Pond departed from Fleetwood Town in 2018 and now plays with Salford City in League 2.

12. Longest Unbeaten Run

Liverpool is attempting to match Arsenal’s Unbeatens of 2003-04, who rattled off 49 consecutive unbeaten games, including all 38 games of the Premier League season in 2003-04. The run actually spanned three seasons — the last two games of the 2002-03 season through the first 10 games of the 2004-2005 season.

The real crown belongs to Steaua Bucharest. In the 80s the Romanian club terrorized Divizia A with five unbeaten seasons in a row for a 104 game unbeaten streak. Yes, you read that right, one-hundred-and-four. If each game was exactly 90 minutes, Steaua Bucharest went six and a half full days of football unbeaten.

13. Most Goals By A Player In A Single World Cup

In 1958, Frenchman Just Fontaine scored 13 goals to lead his team to a third-place finish in Sweden. Fontaine scored a hat trick in the opening game, two more in a loss to Yugoslavia and finished group play with a winning goal against Scotland. Then he scored two against Northern Ireland in the quarterfinals, and scored again in a 5-2 loss to Brazil in the semifinals.

Then, in the third-place game, he bagged four more to set a remarkable record. For perspective, Miroslav Klose is the career leader in World Cup goals, and he scored 16.

14. Fastest Sending-Off In A World Cup Match

Not a record you necessarily want to have unless you’re throwing a match or something, but Uruguayan José Batista was sent off after less than a minute in a 1986 World Cup match against Scotland. In that Zapruder video, he clearly flies in late and two-footed and seems to have mortally wounded Scotland’s Gordon Strachan (judging by his reaction). In Strachan’s biography, published years later, he says he thinks Batista went in late to try to take him out of the game on purpose.

Massive bonus points to the referee for being absolutely infuriated and offended that Batista made that terrible tackle.

15. Longest Throw-In (Not In A Competitive Match)

In 2019 Michael Del Lewis of the great U.S.A. overtook Danish man Thomas Gronnemark for the world's longest throw in. Lewis beat Gronnemark by nearly 30 feet with a heave of 196.3 feet (59.83 meters). Lewis got it done by using the fan-favorite “flip” throw. 

This wasn't the first time Lewis shook the world with his throw-in abilities. In 2015 he scored a ridicilous goal from a throw-in when playing for his high school.

Yes, this goal did count courtesy to the bafoon of a goalkeeper who decided to touch the ball before it crossed the line.

16. Longest Game Ever Played

Heartbeat United holds the crown for the longest game ever lasting 108 hours. In May of 2016 the UK amatuer team split into two teams with 18 players on each team rotating in. The match started at 6 a.m. on a Thursday and lasted until Monday. The game was a charity match after the deaths of three local players. Two of the lost players, Matt Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, were killed in an airshow disaster. Matt Chaplain, the third local player, suffered a heart attack in 2013.

The proceeds for the match were split between The British Heart Foundation and to fund a memorial for the players. The final score was an astounding 1,009-874. Both sides were just happy to see the record broken.

17. Most Goals Scored By A Goalkeeper In A Career

We’ve detailed this legend here at length at The18, but Sao Paolo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni scored 128 goals in his career. The dude took a ton of penalties, sure, but he absolutely crafted in some free kicks, too, like the one above. Our favorite moment of that clip is the announcer saying “he hasn’t scored since August” like he was a slumping superstar striker, which he, uh, was?

18. Most People Blowing The Vuvuzela Simultaneously

Yeahhhhhhh, you got it, this absolutely makes the list. It happened in South Africa (but you guessed that, of course) in 2009, where 12,511 people simultaneously blew those plastic aneurysm horns. It was, as many records are, set on purpose before a Vodacom Challenge football tournament match. Even Guinness’s official write-up in the record book calls it an “event” that was “organized.”

But to still hate the vuvuzela is to miss the real beauty of its lasting legacy. Somewhere, stuffy sportswriters and soccer haters sit in bed at night, poke at their microwave ramen with a plastic fork, and hear that lovely, annoying, unique, buzzing sound in their ears before they drift off to restless sleep.

Grant Burkhardt is on Twitter @grantburkhardt and you can email him about the footie and world records in soccer at burkhardt@the18.com

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