Assist (association football)

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In association football, an assist is a contribution by a player which helps to score a goal. Statistics for assists made by players may be kept officially by the organisers of a competition, or unofficially by, for example, journalists or organisers of fantasy football competitions. Recording assists is not part of the official Laws of the Game and the criteria for an assist to be awarded may vary. Record of assists was virtually not kept at all until the end of the 20th century, although reports of matches commonly described a player as having "made" one or more goals. Since the 1990s, some leagues have kept official record of assists and based awards on them.


Most commonly, an assist is credited to a player for passing or crossing the ball to the scorer. It may also be awarded to a player whose shot rebounds (off a defender, goalkeeper or goalpost) to a teammate who scores. Some systems may credit an assist to a player who wins a penalty kick or a free kick for another player to convert,[1][2] or to an attacking player for contributing to an own goal.[3] A goal may be unassisted, or have one assist; some systems allow for two assists.[1][4]

FIFA World CupEdit

FIFA's Technical Study Group is responsible for awarding assist points at the FIFA World Cup.[5] In the Technical Study Group's report on the 1986 World Cup, the authors calculated for the first time unofficial statistics for assists, developing the following criteria:[1]

  1. An assist was awarded to the player who had given the last pass to the goalscorer.
  2. In addition, the last but two holder of the ball could get an assist provided that his action had decisive importance for the goal.
  3. After goals from rebounds those players were awarded an assist who had shot on target.
  4. After goals scored on penalty or by a directly converted free-kick the fouled player received a point.
  5. In case that the goalscorer had laid on the goal for himself (dribble, solo run), no assists were awarded.
  6. No assists were awarded, either, if the goalscorer took advantage of a missed pass by an opponent.

The 1990 World Cup technical report adopted similar criteria, but changed the free-kick/penalty criterion:[2]

  • Where goals resulting from penalties are concerned, the player who is fouled in the area receives an assist point (unless, that is, the player who is fouled subsequently executes the penalty himself).

Planet World Cup has calculated some retrospective data on assists back to the 1966 World Cup,[6] though the 1986 data differs from that of FIFA.[1][7]

FIFA started officially keeping track of assists in World Cup tournaments at the 1994 edition.[8] This was popularly ascribed to the popularity of detailed sports statistics among American fans.[8] 1994 was also the first World Cup in which assists were used as a tie-breaker in determining the Golden Shoe award for top scorer.[8][9] In the event, both Hristo Stoichkov and Oleg Salenko tied with 19 points, from 6 goals and 1 assist.[9]

United StatesEdit

The original North American Soccer League kept assist statistics from its foundation in 1968, as its forebears the United Soccer Association and National Professional Soccer League had done the previous year.[10] Analogous statistics were already being kept in basketball and in ice hockey, both established North American sports.

Major League Soccer formerly awarded the MLS Golden Boot based on 2 points per goal scored and one per assist.

The NCAA makes regulations for statistics, including assists, in college soccer in the U.S.[11] Two players may be credited with assists if the second did not have to beat a defender before passing to the scorer.[4] No assist is awarded for winning a penalty.[12] If a goal is scored after a save, block, or rebound from the goal frame, the first shooter gets an assist.[13]


In Britain, official game statistics, including assists, for the Premier League, the Scottish Premier League and the Football League are provided by PA Sport under the Actim brand.[14] Since the 2006–07 season, assists have been factored into the Actim Index of Premier League player performance.[15] The assist statistics provided by fantasy football competitions may differ from the Actim data; some uniformly credit an assist to whichever teammate last touched the ball before the scorer, regardless of other circumstances of the play.[16] The Premier League Playmaker of the Season award was introduced in the 2017–18 Premier League for the player with most assists.[17]


For the 1998–99 La Liga season, SDI sold its Gecasport database to Spanish media, in which asistencias de gol were described as "passes which lead immediately to a shot and goal".[18]


The French league, Ligue 1, awards the Trophée de Meilleur Passeur ("best passer trophy") to the player with most "decisive passes" in a season, starting in the 2007–08 season.[19] Sports newspaper L'Équipe had unofficially tracked assists for some years prior to then.[20] The league's Commission des Compétitions includes blocked shots as a subset of "decisive passes".[21][22] In 2012–13, Mathieu Valbuena and Dimitri Payet finished with 12 assists, Valbuena winning the trophy by having fewer blocked shots (3 against 5) among his total.[22]


These totals are the official records recognised by the relevant governing body. Independent statistics providers may have different data, either through crediting different players for a given goal, or through having begun recording assists earlier or later than the official statistics provider.

Players with most assists in a given competition (all-time)
Competition Records
Leading player Team(s) Assists Matches Assists
per match
FIFA World Cup 1958 Pelé Brazil 10 14 0.71
FIFA Club World Cup 2000 Toni Kroos Bayern Munich, Real Madrid 4 9 0.45 [23]
UEFA European Championship 1960 Karel Poborský Czech Republic 8 13 0.62 [24]
Copa América 1916 Lionel Messi Argentina 12 27 0.44
UEFA Champions League 2003 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus 38 170 0.22 [25]
Premier League 1992 Ryan Giggs Manchester United 162 632 0.26 [26]
La Liga 1990 Lionel Messi Barcelona 183 485 0.38 [28][29]
Bundesliga 2009 Thomas Müller Bayern Munich 116 351 0.33 [30]
MLS 1996 Landon Donovan San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy 136 340 0.4 [31]
UEFA Super Cup 1973 Gareth Bale Real Madrid 3 3 1.0 [32]
Players with most assists in a given league (single season)
Competition Player(s) Team(s) Assists Season(s) Refs
Bundesliga Thomas Müller Bayern Munich 21 2019–20 [33]
La Liga Lionel Messi Barcelona 2019–20 [34][35]
Premier League Thierry Henry Arsenal 20 2002–03 [36]
Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City 2019-20
Ligue 1 Ángel Di María Paris Saint-Germain 18 2015–16 [37]
Serie A Alejandro Gómez Atalanta 16 2019–20 [38]



  1. ^ a b c d FIFA Technical Study Group (1986). "1986 World Cup Technical Report, part 4" (PDF). FIFA. The Table of Goalscorers: Goals and Assists, page 198. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  2. ^ a b FIFA Technical Study Group (1990). "1990 World Cup Technical Report, part 6" (PDF). FIFA. p. 281. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  3. ^ "Haverford College vs Alvernia College". Haverford College. 18 September 2007. Archived from the original on 13 July 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b NCAA Official Soccer Statistics Rules, §5.Art 1.(1)
  5. ^ "adidas Golden Shoe Award" (PDF). FIFA. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 June 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  6. ^ "World Cup 1966 statistics". Planet World Cup. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  7. ^ "World Cup 1986 statistics". Planet World Cup. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  8. ^ a b c Bryan, Rebecca (11 July 1994). "Football by the numbers". Los Angeles: Agence France Presse. the assist has gained enough ground to earn a place in the calculations for the Golden Boot award, which in every previous World Cup has been awarded solely on the basis of goals scored. Under the formula, players get three points for a goal, and one point for an assist. "We made a two-point difference because we do not want someone who did not score winning the award," a FIFA official said.
  9. ^ a b "Romario is voted the top player of World Cup '94 and winner of the FIFA/adidas Golden Ball award; Salenko and Stoichkov tie as leading scorers for World Cup USA '94". Business Wire. 17 July 1994. [FIFA] has announced Oleg Salenko (Russia) and Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria) as [...] winners of the prestigious adidas Golden Shoe award [...] who made six goals and one assist each. Kennet Andersson (Sweden) with 5 goals and 3 assists, will receive a Bronze replica of the Predator [...] Throughout World Cup '94, three points were awarded for each goal scored and one point for each assist leading to a goal, with a maximum of two assists per goal. Assists are only taken into account if two or more players scored the same number of goals.
  10. ^ "NASL Top Scorer Award". midfielddynamo. Archived from the original on 24 July 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  11. ^ "Section 5: Assists" (PDF). Official Soccer Statistics Rules; Approved Rulings and Interpretations. NCAA. 2009. p. 2. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  12. ^ NCAA Official Soccer Statistics Rules, §5.Art 1.(3)
  13. ^ NCAA Official Soccer Statistics Rules, §5.Art 1.(8),(9)
  14. ^ "Actim Stats Frequently Asked Questions". PA Sport. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  15. ^ "Actim Index Explained". PA Sport. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  16. ^ Coombs, Dan (22 September 2013). "Mesut Ozil... When is an assist not an assist?". HITC Sport. hereisthecity. Archived from the original on 27 July 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  17. ^ "New Premier League player award announced" (Press release). Premier League. 18 April 2018. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Criterios de Elaboración de Estadísticas". (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 18 November 1999. Retrieved 5 June 2020. pases que implican, de manera inmediata, un tiro y golCS1 maint: unfit url (link); Lago-Peñas, Carlos; Lago-Ballesteros, Joaquín; Dellal, Alexandre; Gómez, Maite (1 June 2010). "Game-Related Statistics that Discriminated Winning, Drawing and Losing Teams from the Spanish Soccer League". Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 9 (2): 288–293. ISSN 1303-2968. PMC 3761743. Gecasport, a private company dedicated to the performance assessment of teams in the Spanish Soccer League (; Peña, Donald (July 2004). "Goleada estadística" (PDF). Indice (in Spanish) (5): 18–19. ISSN 1697-2325. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  19. ^ "Thauvin n'oublie pas de passer" (in French). 5 February 2020. Retrieved 5 June 2020. la création du classement officiel des passeurs en 2007/08
  20. ^ Delbrayelle, Dominique; Garin, Erik; Di Maggio, Roberto (20 June 2019). "France - Topscorers". RSSSF. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  21. ^ "James Rodriguez en prince de la passe". (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  22. ^ a b "C'est la bonne pour Mathieu Valbuena". Ligue de Football Professionnel. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  23. ^ "Toni Kroos - Detailed stats" Check |url= value (help). _. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  24. ^ (17 June 2020). "EURO final tournament assists: All you need to know". Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Twitter". Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  26. ^ "Assists". Premier League Player Stats. Premier League. Retrieved 5 June 2020.; "Ryan Giggs". Premier League Players. Premier League. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  27. ^ FC Barcelona [@FCBarcelona] (5 July 2020). "Messi, assists/season, La Liga" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  28. ^ 183 = (20052020: 2 + 2 + 12 + 11 + 10 + 18 + 16 + 12 + 11 + 18 + 16 + 9 + 12 + 13 + 21)[27]
  29. ^ "En marquant contre Majorque, Lionel Messi s'est offert un nouveau record qui donne le tournis (vidéo)". Le Soir (in French). Brussels. 14 June 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020. Auteur de 439 buts en 475 matches de Liga
  30. ^ Retrieved 15 September 2020. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ "All-Time: Assists". Statistics. Major League Soccer. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  32. ^ "Gareth Bale - Detailed stats" Check |url= value (help). _. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  33. ^ "Thomas Muller Breaks Kevin De Bruyne's Bundesliga Assist Record". beIN SPORTS USA. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  34. ^ "Messi breaks LaLiga Santander record for most assists in a season". Marca. 19 July 2020. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  35. ^ "Stats: Messi breaks two all-time records; Ramos' unique first this century". 20 July 2020. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  36. ^ "Kevin de Bruyne: Twentieth assist of season equals Thierry Henry's record". BBC Sport. 26 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  37. ^ "Angel Di Maria sets new Ligue 1 record with 18 assists". 14 May 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  38. ^ "Alejandro "Papu" Gomez mazy assist for Atalanta, tops Serie A in assists". Mundo Albiceleste. 11 July 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2020.