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All Hail Daniel Podence, The Premier League’s Reigning Short King

Daniel Podence of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates with teammates Romain Saiss and Pedro Neto after scoring their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at Molineux on December 15, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution.
Photo by Tim Keeton - Pool/Getty Images

Daniel Podence, the Portuguese Wolverhampton (but I repeat myself) forward, is hardly the fastest or strongest or most talented player in the Premier League. He is, however, one of its very shortest. At 5-foot-5, only he, Ryan Fraser, and Christian Atsu can waltz under the sub-5-foot-6 bar. Because of those measurements, and because watching short guys wreck big dudes will forever be cool, upon joining the league in January of this year Podence immediately became a contender for the highly coveted Short King Crown. With exhibitions like the one he put on today in Wolves’ 2–1 victory over Chelsea, the little man continues making a convincing case that he is currently the best of the small.

Podence and Portuguese compatriot Pedro Neto ran Chelsea ragged on Tuesday. The former put his compact build and quick feet to good use, flexing his strongest trait—his dribbling—by successfully beating defenders off the dribble on six of his seven attempts. His best moment was his goal in the 66th minute, when he took advantage of his low center of gravity and unwavering balance to feint his way around a couple defenders in the penalty box before unleashing the strike that leveled the scoreline. It was a quintessential example of how shortness can be an asset:

(The goal, by the way, was assisted by the USMNT’s very own Owen Otasowie, who made his Premier League debut as a halftime substitute.)

Though almost certainly inadvertent, it was fitting that Podence’s goal celebration called to mind a famous celebration of Xherdan Shaqiri, who himself once reigned as the league’s Short King. Monarchs of this designation don’t tend to rule too long for whatever reason (looking at you, Ryan Fraser), but hopefully Podence can earn his fair share of moments in the spotlight before the next diminutive maestro comes along and bumps him off. Viva o pequeno rei!