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Learn about the hardest position in soccer

Football is the most popular team sport in the world and has various positions that demand different sets of skills. From goalkeeper to forward, each of them presents its own level of difficulty. If you’ve ever wondered what the hardest position in football is, you’ll find out as we delve deeper into these roles. Whether you’re looking to start playing football or simply enjoy watching, knowing which position is the toughest in this sport won’t hurt. There’s no position significantly easier than the others. However, among these 7 positions, they are often considered the toughest in football, requiring some special abilities if players want to excel or succeed. Let’s explore the hardest position in soccer through the following article with!

Which is the hardest position in soccer?

7. Forward

No, scoring goals is not as easy as you think. Today’s gameplay demands forwards to have speed, ball control, intelligent movement off the ball to exploit spaces, and especially finishing. Finishing distinguishes a mediocre forward from a good one, and a good one from a special one. A good forward needs the necessary awareness to anticipate defenders’ actions and the ability to shoot from distance with both feet as an advantage. Good aerial ability to win headers is also prioritized.

Hardest position in soccer: Forward
Hardest position in soccer: Forward

Moreover, modern forwards often have to press the opposing team in their own half, so they need good stamina and physicality. A specific type of forward, the target man, must possess all these abilities along with good passing and ball-holding skills, waiting for midfielders to join the attack. Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Robert Lewandowski are some of the best and most famous forwards in the world. These stars have the responsibility to score goals for their team.

6. Sweeper

“Sweeper” is named as such because they “sweep” up any loose balls or hidden dangers that the central defenders cannot deal with. This position was very common in the catenaccio system in the 1960s: in a defensive line consisting of five players, the sweeper or libero is responsible for patrolling the area, handling any danger if one of the two central defenders loses their mark. In today’s football, sweepers are rarely used because most defensive lines consist of 4 players instead of 5. However, it still exists to this day, in some places.

What is the hardest position in soccer: Sweeper
What is the hardest position in soccer: Sweeper

This position is not easy at all because it requires excellent timing to intercept opponents’ attacks and block dangerous passes. Any foul could lead to a penalty kick, so this type of defender must be very careful with their challenges.

Sweeping defenders need to be masters of tackling and must have excellent passing skills to not disrupt the ball when starting the build-up play. Franz Beckenbauer and Franco Baresi were top-class sweepers in their time. Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool often plays as a libero.

5. Central Midfielder

Arguably the most physically demanding position in football, central midfielders have a long list of requirements to truly master it: speed, passing, defensive abilities, long-range shooting, tackling, and positional awareness. Box-to-box midfielders have the dual task of defending and attacking, so they need to shoulder a lot of responsibilities.

Hardest position to play in soccer: Central Midfielder
Hardest position to play in soccer: Central Midfielder

These traits often come into play in the distance covered during matches as they need to support their team defensively, distribute the ball effectively in midfield, initiate attacks, and often finish them too. Paul Pogba, Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gundogan, Luka Modric, Frenkie de Jong, and Joshua Kimmich are some of the top central midfielders in the game today.

4. Full-back

Full-back is an extremely challenging position in modern football. It not only demands speed and endurance to support both defensive and offensive duties on the flanks, but full-backs, whether left or right, also need outstanding acceleration, pace, and crossing ability to successfully fulfill their roles.

Which is the hardest position in soccer: Full-back
Which is the hardest position in soccer: Full-back

To excel as a full-back, a player needs excellent marking and tackling skills, combined with the readiness to make smart, timely overlapping runs on the flank whether with or without the ball. Full-backs often serve as outlets for midfielders in the build-up play.

Cafu and Roberto Carlos are widely regarded as some of the greatest full-backs in history. Today, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alphonso Davies, Reece James, and Theo Hernández are some of the top players in this position.

3. Attacking Midfielder/”Number 10″

There are various types of attacking midfielders in the world of football. In the 1990s and 2000s, the “Number 10” gained prominence thanks to the success of players like Carlos Valderrama, Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti, Zinedine Zidane, and other similarly skilled players.

They possess excellent passing and attacking vision, often breaking down defensive lines with those attributes. Some of them might not be the fastest, but they have a tactical map in their heads and often anticipate their peers one or two steps ahead.

Hardest position in soccer: Attacking Midfielder/"Number 10"
Hardest position in soccer: Attacking Midfielder/”Number 10″

Today, those tasked with carrying their team’s attacking burden are quicker, faster, and more polished: they might not have the passing skills of Riquelme or Valderrama, but they are quicker, more agile, and have better passing abilities with a more potent attacking force.

That’s why this position is so challenging: these players need to act swiftly and make accurate decisions in areas of the pitch with a lot of traffic and more defenders. Lionel Messi, Kevin de Bruyne, and Eden Hazard are some of the playmakers of today: complete attacking machines capable of inflicting damage in multiple ways. They create plays for themselves and for their teammates.

2. Defensive Midfielder

Football today is largely about disrupting play, winning possession, and finding ways to successfully attack vulnerable areas and exploit weaknesses in the defensive line. The defensive midfielder is perhaps the most demanding outfield position in this sport because players in this position must halt the opponent’s attacks, act as on-field strategists and coaches, while also initiating the game with composure and good first passes.

A defensive midfielder needs to have good endurance to keep up with the game’s pace for over 90 minutes, while also requiring mental toughness to remain calm in challenging situations. Additionally, they must be intelligent enough to cover for any potential mistakes made by their teammates.

What is the hardest position in soccer: Defensive Midfielder
What is the hardest position in soccer: Defensive Midfielder

It’s not an easy position to play: imagine being tasked with stopping the likes of Messi, Neymar, and others from PSG. It demands a unique blend of abilities, from the “invisible” ones like sacrifice and teamwork to physical attributes like endurance, speed, and strength. N’Golo Kanté remains one of the top defensive midfielders in the world, while Casemiro, Wilfred Ndidi, and Marcelo Brozovic are also highly skilled. Roy Keane, Claude Makelele, Patrick Vieira, Dunga, and Lothar Matthaus are among the greatest players in history.

1. Goalkeeper

It might sound different, but the goalkeeper truly is the most difficult position to play in football. Sometimes, if a player isn’t good enough in a specific outfield position, that situation might go unnoticed or won’t significantly impact the score. Not only is it the toughest position in football, but the goalkeeper is also the most crucial. When a goalkeeper performs poorly, it shows. This player faces immense pressure to avoid any errors that could affect their teammates’ work.

Hardest position to play in soccer: Goalkeeper
Hardest position to play in soccer: Goalkeeper

A good goalkeeper needs to have excellent physical strength and agility, quick reflexes, and remarkable lower body strength. Having the right equipment is also crucial in the goalkeeper’s role. They should also anticipate the intentions of opposing players, smother attackers, and force them into making bad shots. Passing ability from a fixed position has become a requirement in recent years.

Marc-André ter Stegen, Thibaut Courtois, Hugo Lloris, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Manuel Neuer, Alisson, and Jan Oblak are some of the top goalkeepers in the world of football today. Oliver Kahn, Lev Yashin, Peter Schmeichel, and Gordon Banks are among the greatest goalkeepers in history. Identifying the toughest positions to play in football is a subjective exercise, but some positions are objectively challenging.


In essence, football is a sport where each position demands its own unique blend of physical prowess, mental acuity, and technical skill. From the crucial role of the goalkeeper, tasked with defending the goal at all costs, to the dynamic responsibilities of the forward, charged with scoring goals, every player on the pitch contributes to the team’s success in their own way. Whether it’s the strategic intelligence of a defensive midfielder or the lightning-fast reactions of a full-back, football showcases the incredible range of abilities required to compete at the highest level. It’s this diversity of roles and the relentless pursuit of excellence within them that makes football the beautiful and captivating sport that it is, captivating fans worldwide with its drama, skill, and unyielding passion.

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