As if there was any other candidate to top this list, Adebayo Akinfenwa deserves to be recognized as the strongest footballer in the world. Despite having never played in a division higher than League One in England, the striker is widely known all over the world thanks to his beast-like physique and enormous power. The 33-year-old can reportedly bench press 180kg – that’s nearly twice his own bodyweight. Such strength is virtually impossible to match in professional football, which is perhaps why he has previously been mistaken for an NFL star.
Strength is one of few abilities that are so important in modern football and yet can’t be taught. The strongest players on the pitch can exert a telling influence on a match, whether by disrupting the space creative players need to pull the strings or ushering a striker away out of possession as they bear down on the penalty area.
With this in mind, every player in each position must at least be capable of holding their own in physical combat; only special players with particular skill sets are exempt from this expectation, like Andrea Pirlo, Xavi and similar craftsmen.
Physique is an inherent characteristic that often makes or breaks the career of a budding professional footballer. While some players are born with muscles stacked on their bones, others have to work extremely hard in order to get up to speed. However, only so much can be done to ensure the human body measures up to the requirements of elite sport.
Consider the transformation of Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo between the time he signed for Manchester United and the present. Over the course of nearly 13 years, the Portuguese has gone from scrawny winger to chiseled supermodel, and his career has reaped massive benefits because of it.
On the other hand, Didier Drogba has been lucky enough to boast incredible strength from the day he made his senior debut for French club Le Mans to when he bid farewell to Chelsea fans for a second time in May 2015.
Football is certainly not a game based around strength, but the ever-increasing physical demands require players to do more than just stay in shape. All elite footballers must befriend the weights machine, only nature determines who has to put it more effort than others.