We all love a good footballer, don’t we? He’s the hero at 3 o’clock on a Saturday (or Sunday…or on a week-night), the captain who raises the trophy at the end of the final and the all-round nice bloke that you’d love to go for a drink with.
Wouldn’t want him operating on you though would you? No offence to Ryan Giggs, but you wouldn’t ask him to diagnose that lump on the back of your neck. Steven Gerrard is Liverpool’s captain marvel, but he wouldn’t be your phone a friend on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?…would he? Even Peter Crouch looks like a good-natured, affable village-idiot. Don’t let that gormless expression fool you…he really is a village idiot.
But I’m being too harsh on our beloved footballers! They’ve been blessed with other talents after all. Like Brian Clough said, a footballer’s brains are in his feet. Except, it turns out, when they’re in his head.
New research from Dr. Ken Bray at the University of Bath has suggested that many footballers could actually be mathematical geniuses. Published in the Thursday edition of the Daily Mirror, Dr. Bray’s findings suggested that instead of being drooling, mindless thugs, staring with cold dead eyes at the nearest stripper/waitress, your average footballer posseses mathematical ability that would have put Einstein to shame!
Dr. Bray claims:
“Every footballer uses geometry, aerodynamics and probability to perfrom at their peak. When (they) step up to take a free-kick they don’t just mindlessly aim to hit the back of the net – they also calculate narrow angles and aerodynamics.”.
Just think. Next time you watch Joey Barton standing over the ball, he’s not just wondering where he put his car keys, he’s doing complex maths that could send a rocket ship to the moon and back…if he chose to use them in that way!
Generally regarded as the ‘world’s brainiest footballer’, (cos he’s bin on Countdown and that thing where the people sit round the table and shout at each other bout stuff….Jeremy Kyle Show!) Burnley’s Clarke Carlisle supported the findings. Carlisle has an A-Level in maths, so he should know! The defender said:
“From the forward to the keeper we rely on scientific and mathematical principles to improve our performance, whether its a case of striking the ball cleanly, working out the angle of a pass or positioning the wall for a free kick.”.
So what appears to come naturally to players, is actually years of study. Maybe there’s secret classrooms where they all get together and discuss Stephen Hawking’s black hole theory. Maybe they are being trained by Stephen Hawking and the good looking scientist off the telly! We can’t find a cure for cancer, or an end to world hunger, but as long as Wayne Rooney knows how to strike a ball so that it goes in, rather than over the bar, then science has won!
Not eveyone shares the same view as Carlisle though. Robbie Savage, who got one O-Level, has dismissed the findings saying:
“football is about hard work, instinct and skill, rather than working out complicated formulas in your head.”.
And that may be true for the grafters, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the best players have that extra spark that means they know where to hit the ball to ensure it goes in. Like any other job, you have people who are better than others, and they are generally that little bit smarter than the rest of the sheep sorry, their co-workers.
So, maybe footballers really are intelligent, articulate and gifted individuals. Maybe I’m being a little harsh on them. Maybe, as Dave Gilmour would say, We Don’t Need No Education, but we could do with quite a good left-back.
Make up your own minds, but I’ll leave you with this anecdote about one ‘gifted’ player who shall remain nameless. But his exploits made him famous at his club, where he was nicknamed Trigger by his team-mates, after the dopey character in Only Fools and Horses.
This player was filling out a credit card application when he saw a space marked ‘Position in Company.’ Scratching his head, he turned to his team-mate and asked ‘What should I put there? I’m a central midfielder but the boss is playing me at right back??’
Like what I’m saying, or do I need to go back to school?? Follow me on Twitter to find out @petermagpie
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