What Is An Assist In Football?

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What is an assist in football? While goals will usually take center stage when it comes to football, those that assist often are hugely integral parts of any quality side that wins trophies. An assist is when a player makes a contribution to a goal. For example, if Kevin De Bruyne were to pass the ball through to Gabriel Jesus who then scored, De Bruyne will have recorded an assist.

To know more about assist football, let’s keep reading!

What Does Assist Mean In Football?

define assist

An assist in football is a contribution from a player that aids in the scoring of a goal in association football. A player can have an assist if they score directly from a free kick or penalty, or by giving a good start to a team move.

A footballer also can award an assist for providing another player with an opportunity to score. For example, if a forward passes the ball to another player who scores a goal. In some cases, an assist may not be given if there was sufficient time for everyone on the team to score.

The term “assist” was introduced into association football in 1995 by English manager Brian Clough. Before this date, only managers and fans knew how many goals someone had scored by looking at their shirt. To remedy this problem, goals were given numerical values known as assists. If a player has a hand in scoring a goal, they are considered to have assisted the goal even if they do not get a medal or prize money for doing so.

How Are Assists Awarded?

Usually, an assist is credited to a player who passes or crosses the ball to a player who scores. A player that sees their shot rebound off the goalkeeper, post, or defender before another player scores also can get this credit.

Some leagues and competitions will credit an assist to a player if they win a free-kick or penalty that is then converted by the next player to touch the ball. In some circumstances, the last attacking player to touch the ball before an own goal will also be credited with an assist.

How Are Assists Awarded at the World Cup?

The World Cup has a specific set of rules that govern the awarding of assists in their matches. As the biggest competition in football, it is a good place to go to see how FIFA set out its rules on assists. These rules are:

  • An assist is awarded to the last player to pass to the goal scorer.
  • The person before the direct assister can also be credited with an assist if their actions held particular importance to the goal.
  • After a goal from a rebound, those players who had a shot on target were awarded an assist.
  • If a player scored directly from a penalty or free-kick, then he can have an assist.
  • If the goal scorer assists themselves (a solo run or dribble) then no assist is awarded.
  • An assist is not awarded if the goal scorer scores from a misplaced pass by an opponent.

Of course, it is worth noting that different leagues and competitions will tweak the rules slightly. But the main points are usually very similar.

Who Has The Most Assist In Football History?

assist in football

This wouldn’t really be a list of the best if Lionel Messi did not feature in it. As of April 2022, Messi tops the charts with a dazzling 363 assists. The Argentine footballer is not only an excellent goal scorer but also has the ability to see and pick a pass. This makes him the greatest to ever play the game in the eyes of many.

Thomas Muller of Bayern Munich is second on this list with 284 assists. The German is another natural goalscorer. But he has seen his role change for Bayern. And this has seen the forward providing a threat both in front of the goal and as a playmaking threat. Despite his long and successful career, Muller is still a long way behind Messi when it comes to the top assisting spot.

Luis Suarez (278 assists), Cristiano Ronaldo (273), and Angel Di Maria (269) complete a list of world-class footballers that show assisting is just as important as scoring goals.

The Best Assister in Premier League History

Welshman Ryan Giggs is the best assister in the EPL. He was playing for Manchester United. Giggs was able to rack up a whopping 162 assists, meaning he is 51 clear of former-Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas. Behind the Spaniard are Wayne Rooney (103), Frank Lampard (102), and Dennis Bergkamp (94).

There are only two players currently in the Premier League that appear on this list. They are Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne boasts 86 assists and Liverpool’s James Milner also has 86 assists.

While De Bruyne is a supreme talent, at the age of 30 he will have to continue at his current level for years if he is to pick up the 76 assists, he needs to draw level with Giggs. The Belgian is not a player we would doubt in this respect, but Giggs will likely keep this record for years to come.

Who Is the Best Duo Assists in the Premier League?

Tottenham’s Harry Kane & Son Heung-Min

what is an assist in football?

As of the end of the 2021/22 season, nobody comes close to Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min. Having begun their relationship on the pitch together back in 2015, the pair have formed one of the most lethal partnerships in the game. The 41 goals where they have assisted one-another eclipses the 36 scored by Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

The pair are evenly split with regard to scoring, but Son has scored more of late, with Kane turning as the provider more often than not. This makes sense considering Kane is lauded for his vision and passing ability, while the pace and power that Son provides make it easy for him to run behind the defensive line, collecting the ball and firing it into the back of the net.

Other Honourable Mentions

As honorable mentions go, Drogba and Lampard of Chelsea combined for 36 goals between them. Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and David Silva have 29 goals. Both duos played their part in title-winning sides. On the other hand, the former helped Chelsea to a maiden Champions League triumph whilst playing for the Blues.

Incredibly, neither of these partnerships is still going at their clubs, with the four players have moved on or retired. This simply means that it’s hard to beat Kane and Son’s record, they are both under 30 means. As long as they both stay at Tottenham, then their partnership will only get better.

Hat-trick Assists Records

Mesut Özil holds the record for the most ‘hat-trick assists’. Which is when a player provides three assists in a game. Ozil has managed this on eight occasions, although Lionel Messi is not far behind with six. The first player to ever record four assists in a Premier League match was Dennis Bergkamp.

The Arsenal legend achieved the feat against Leicester back in 1999. Since then, only Jose Antonio Reyes, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Santi Cazorla, and Dusan Tadic have managed to secure a quartet of assists. Incredibly, four of the players on the list are Arsenal players. Clearly, they were putting something in the water back then! As mentioned, Lionel Messi is the most-prolific assister in football history with an astounding 363 assists.


What is assist in football? The moments before the goal, the important passes, or the accurate deliveries. While it may sound simple, making assists is a very important area of attacking play. Even the leagues and governing bodies have started recognizing it as a vital aspect of a football match.

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