Welcome to the definitive information on soccer positions. On this information, we’ll take a look at all positions in soccer, together with the required talent units, obligations, names, and related numbers. We’ll additionally cowl formations and any abbreviations you must know. Prepared? It’s time for kick-off…

What Are The Positions In Soccer?

Gamers are grouped into 4 classes in a soccer roster (or squad). They’re:

  • Goalkeepers
  • Defenders
  • Midfielders
  • Forwards
Canada at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Picture credit score: Canadasoccer.com

Inside these classes, there are completely different specialist positions with quite a lot of roles, obligations, and names. Whereas soccer positions are continuously evolving, and should range from staff to staff, they’re historically grouped as:

  • Goalkeepers
  • Full-backs or wingbacks (defenders)
  • Middle backs (defenders)
  • Central midfielders (midfielders)
  • Wingers or vast forwards (midfielders/forwards)
  • Strikers (forwards)

We are going to take a look at every of those positions and their completely different variations beneath, nevertheless it’s essential to know that soccer is a extremely nuanced sport, particularly on the skilled degree.


What they do: Goalkeepers are primarily answerable for stopping the opposition from scoring objectives. They do that by stopping or ‘saving’ pictures from opposition gamers, studying the sport and clearing any balls which might be performed in behind their defenders, or catching or punching crosses.

If a keeper can cease the opposition from scoring for the entire sport, this is called a ‘clear sheet’, and in most main tournaments and leagues, there are awards for goalkeepers that obtain essentially the most. Within the Premier League, it’s generally known as the ‘Golden Glove’.

In addition to their goal-stopping capabilities, goalies are additionally more and more required to have high-level passing abilities. Most current-day coaches attempt to play possession-based soccer, the place the entire staff passes across the opposition from one finish of the pitch to a different, and this all begins with the goalkeeper.

Key Abilities: Shot stopping, catching, punching, group, communication, agility, reflexes, anticipation, passing and kicking.

Well-known gamers on this place: Ederson, Allison, Thibaut Courtois, Manuel Neuer, Oliver Kahn, Iker Casillas, Peter Schmeichel, Gianluigi Buffon, Gordon Banks, and Lev Yashin. 

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer
Picture of Manuel Neuer: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0

Full-back And Wingback

What they do: Full-backs play on both facet of a protection. They work along with different defenders to cease opposition attacking gamers from creating possibilities and scoring objectives.

Often called both a right-back or left-back, they usually face one-on-one conditions towards opposition wingers or forwards, however should supply an outlet when their staff has the ball, and supply offensive help for his or her forwards.

This historically unglamorous place has developed loads over the previous few a long time, and fashionable full-backs are actually usually seen as a key inventive part of their staff. Former full-backs like Dani Alves, Phillip Lahm, and Roberto Carlos helped revolutionize the place and showcased how efficient full-backs could possibly be in sustaining possession, constructing assaults, and carving alternatives out for offensive gamers.

Wingbacks do an identical job to full-backs however have extra of an emphasis on an attacking play, supporting their forwards and attacking gamers to attempt to create possibilities for his or her staff. Traditionally, wingbacks performed loads additional up the sector than full-backs, however lots of the finest present full-backs on the planet, like Trent Alexander Arnold and Kyle Walker, are sometimes anticipated to do each jobs and canopy the complete flank, and even transfer into midfield areas.

Key Abilities: Tackling, positioning, tactical consciousness, interceptions, passing, crossing, pace, stamina, dribbling, communication and flexibility.

Well-known gamers on this place: Trent Alexander Arnold, Kyler Walker, Achraf Hakimi, Dani Carvajal, Dani Alves, Phillip Lahm, Roberto Carlos, Javier Zanetti, Ashley Cole, Cafu, Nilton Santos.

Kyle Walker playing for Manchester City FC
Picture of Kyle Walker: Steffen Prößdorf/Wikipedia Commons


What they do: Middle-backs, often known as central defenders or center-halves, play on the coronary heart of a protection, and their main goal is to cease the opposition from scoring and creating purpose threats.

Normally taking part in as a pair or a 3, center-backs assist to prepare their staff’s defensive construction, ‘mark’ opposition attacking gamers, construct their very own staff’s assaults, and win each offensive and defensive aerial duels. Usually center-halves are the largest, strongest gamers on the pitch, and use this physicality to disrupt and dominate the opposition in each packing containers.

Middle-backs can have completely different roles inside their staff, relying on the staff’s tactical necessities and the participant’s abilities. For instance, John Stones (Manchester Metropolis) is called a technical ‘ball-playing’ defender who’s comfy on the ball and begins assaults with intelligent passes.

Alternatively, Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus) was recognized for aggression, tenacity, and ‘no-nonsense’ defending which had been abilities that had been extra historically related to center-backs.

Key Abilities: Tackling, positioning, tactical consciousness, blocking, interceptions, passing, energy, communication, management, heading, leaping, and anticipation.

Well-known gamers on this place: Virgil van Dijk, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Piqué, Carles Puyol, Vincent Kompany, John Terry, Fabio Cannavaro, Paolo Maldini, Ronald Koeman, Franz Beckenbauer, and Bobby Moore.

Sergio Ramos playing for Real Madrid
Picture of Sergio Ramos: Jan S0L0/Wikipedia Commons

Middle Midfield

What they do: Central midfield is among the most various and complex positions in soccer. Middle midfielders normally play one, if not a mix of the next roles:

Holding or defensive midfielder

Defensive midfielders defend their heart backs and break up opposition assaults with interceptions and tackles. They’re additionally answerable for providing an preliminary outlet to construct assaults and wish wonderful passing abilities.


Excellent all-rounders, box-to-box gamers should do all the things on the pitch, serving to their groups each offensively and defensively. Utilizing a mix of physicality, exhausting work, and technical talent, box-to-box gamers are equally more likely to be seen making a key deal with in their very own half as taking pictures on purpose or offering a key go for a striker.

Quantity 8

Just like a box-to-box midfielder, quantity 8s have excellent all-round means however are extra centered on controlling the possession and tempo of a sport and constructing their staff’s assaults.

Playmaker or attacking midfielder

Also called attacking midfielders, or “quantity 10s”, playmakers attempt to create possibilities and rating objectives for themselves or their teammates. They usually play between midfield and attacking gamers. They require excellent contact, imaginative and prescient, passing, and taking pictures abilities.

Central midfielders must have various abilities and could also be required to play completely different roles even in the identical sport. Actual Madrid star, Jude Bellingham beforehand wore the quantity 22 which signified the actual fact he could possibly be a quantity 4 (holding midfielder), eight (box-to-box midfielder), and ten (attacking midfielder) on the identical time. It highlights the significance of versatility on this place.

Key Abilities: Passing, consciousness, imaginative and prescient, dribbling, management, tackling, interceptions, urgent, taking pictures, stamina, tactical consciousness, communication, management, versatility, approach and playmaking.

Well-known gamers on this place: Jude Bellingham, İlkay Gündoğan, Kevin De Bruyne, Pedri, Luka Modrić, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, Zinedine Zidane, Bobby Charlton and Lothar Matthaus.

Danil Krugovoy and Jude Bellingham
Picture of Danil Krugovoy (left) and Jude Bellingham (proper): Vyacheslav Evdokimov/Wikipedia Commons

Wingers Or Vast Forwards

What they do: Wingers (often known as vast forwards) are attacking gamers that play on the flanks. They attempt to create and rating objectives for his or her staff. Historically, wingers operated within the vast positions of a midfield 4, nonetheless, many fashionable coaches play with a 4-3-3 formation and use two vast forwards and one central striker.

Wingers are sometimes the quickest and most skillful dribblers within the staff and normally have a number of particular person battles with the opposition full-back all through a match.

Wingers both look to run previous opposition defenders on the surface, and cross balls into the field for his or her teammates to assault, or they reduce inside and look to shoot or play passes across the opposition in central areas. Each require wonderful shut management, attacking imaginative and prescient, and tempo.

Key Abilities: Velocity, acceleration, dribbling, management, passing, crossing, taking pictures, tactical consciousness, approach and playmaking.

Well-known gamers on this place: Lionel Messi, Vinicius Junior, Mohamed Salah, Gareth Bale, Neymar, Rivaldo, Arjen Robben, Ryan Giggs, Stanley Matthews, George Finest, and Garrincha.

Lionel Messi celebrating scoring a goal against Granada CF
Picture of Lionel Messi: Lluís/Wikipedia Commons

Striker Or Middle-forward

What they do: Also called the ‘quantity 9’ place, strikers are primarily answerable for scoring objectives for his or her staff. Normally, they function in central areas (which is why they’re often known as center-forwards) and act because the goalscoring point of interest of the staff.

Strikers are matched up towards central defenders, so should have excellent bodily attributes. They both want to have the ability to maintain off defenders and defend the ball so their staff can construct assaults, or to have the pace to run behind them. The very best strikers in soccer historical past may usually do each.

Prolific strikers could be the distinction maker for his or her staff. In any case, objectives win video games. The very best strikers can dig their staff out of a sticky state of affairs with an impressive piece of play or excellent end. This is the reason the striker place in soccer usually prices more cash than gamers in some other place.

Key Abilities: Taking pictures, approach, management, positioning, tactical consciousness, composure, passing, urgent, energy, pace, heading, leaping, and anticipation.

Well-known gamers on this place: Cristiano Ronaldo, Erling Haaland, Harry Kane, Luis Suárez, Robert Lewandowski, Samuel Eto’o, David Villa, Alan Shearer, Gerd Müller, Pelé, Ronaldo, and Alfredo Di Stéfano.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Picture of Cristiano Ronaldo: Jan S0L0/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0


It’s additionally essential to know formations. Formations, techniques, and participant obligations are continuously growing, and it’s the coach’s job to get essentially the most out of their staff. There are not any restrictions on the place gamers can go on the sector, or what they’ll do (throughout the guidelines). That’s as much as them and the coach.

Soccer coaches or managers set their groups up in formations that dictate the place the participant will most frequently be on the pitch, and what their obligations are throughout the staff. The commonest formations within the fashionable period are:

  • 4-4-2
  • 4-5-1
  • 4-3-3
  • 4-3-2-1
  • 4-1-3-2
  • 5-4-1
  • 4-1-2-1-2 diamond
  • 3-5-2
3-5-2 soccer formation
Picture of 3-5-2 formation: Jfd34/Wikipedia Commons

Every formation has its professionals and cons, and a coach may need their gamers to be very inflexible and disciplined inside it, or give them extra freedom and expression on the pitch. It’s the participant’s job to know what the coach desires, after which execute it within the sport.

Soccer Place Numbers

All soccer gamers put on numbers on the again of their jerseys, they usually usually correspond to the place that the participant performs on the pitch. Traditionally, gamers wore the right quantity for his or her place, and ‘squad gamers’ had been assigned a quantity above 11.

These days, although, it’s common to see a contemporary famous person sporting a non-traditional soccer quantity. Liverpool’s Trent Alexander Arnold wears the quantity 66, whereas Man Metropolis’s Phil Foden wears 47. Legendary Brazil striker Ronaldo Nazário additionally wore quantity 99 in his time at AC Milan as a result of his favored quantity 9 was already taken.

However, mostly, the soccer positions by quantity are:

  1. Goalkeeper
  2. Proper-back
  3. Left-back
  4. Middle-back
  5. Middle-back
  6. Central defensive/holding midfielder
  7. Proper winger/ahead
  8. Central/box-to-box midfielder
  9. Striker
  10. Playmaker/attacking midfielder
  11. Left winger/ahead
Midfielder Thiago Alcantara
Picture of midfielder Thiago Alcantara: Rolandhino1/Wikipedia Commons

Soccer Place Abbreviations

All soccer subject positions could be abbreviated down to 2 or three letters, as an alternative of utilizing the complete identify. For those who’ve ever constructed your individual soccer staff on-line or performed a soccer administration simulation sport, you’ve in all probability found this earlier than.

The total listing of abbreviations are:

  • Goalkeeper – GK
  • Middle-back – CB
  • Proper full-back – RB
  • Left full-back – LB
  • Proper wing-back – RWB
  • Left wing-back – LWB
  • Central defensive/holding midfield – CDM
  • Middle midfield – CM
  • Attacking midfielders – AM
  • Proper winger/ahead – RW
  • Left winger/ahead – LW
  • Middle ahead – CF
  • Striker – ST

Soccer Positions Abstract

On this article, we’ve lined all the things you have to know in regards to the detailed world of soccer positions and numbers. Bear in mind although, soccer quantity positions are simply theoretical. Simply because a participant normally performs a particular place, or wears a specific quantity, doesn’t imply they’ll’t go right into a sure space of the pitch, assault and defend, and even play a number of positions in a single match.

As the sport develops and coaches are on the lookout for extra modern methods to beat opposition groups, conventional positions have gotten a factor of the previous. Gamers are more and more required to tackle extra duty on the pitch, so don’t be stunned to see star strikers working as exhausting defensively as they do within the attacking third, or for a full-back to be their staff’s most important inventive outlet. Positions are only a information. Coaches, gamers, and groups are all distinctive.

For extra on soccer, take a look at our articles on the most effective soccer groups of all time and the richest soccer groups.

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