A common determinant in the academies?

A common determinant in the academies?

In a few weeks it will be the tenth anniversary of the World Cup that Spain won in South Africa, the only one it has achieve until this day. If you take a look at the details of that talented squad, you will realise that 10 of their 23 players were born in the first quadrimester of the year. In fact, some of them, such as Xavi Hernández, Joan Capdevila, David Silva and Gerard Piqué, have birthdays in January and February. The last world champion, France, had an equal percentage (43.47%) of players born in the first four months of the year.

This does not always happen on winning teams. For example, in the first World Cup that Les Bleus took (1998), only six of their players (26.98%) were born in that initial quarter of the year. But the truth is that in football there is a trend proven by the data regarding the birth date. And the oldest boys in a class seem to be the ones who have more options to reach professionalism.

In this graph we can see a categorization of all the players we have in the Driblab database. As you can see, a very high percentage of them were born between January and April. While there are less than 13,000 players born in the last two months. How to interpret this? The truth is that at early ages, 120 more days of development can mean a big difference between one child and another. It is no coincidence that January is the month that produces the most professionals footballers: 15,563.

It therefore follows that the birth date is a common determinant in football academies. The boys who were born at the end of the year have more obstacles than the others on the way to the elite. In the infographic below we can observe the distribution of births per day, which shows that the curve is clearly decreasing: it is more difficult to succeed having been born in October than in March.

We are Driblab, a consultancy specialized in the statistical analysis of players and teams; our work is focused on advising and minimizing risk in professional football decision-making in areas related to talent detection and footballer evaluations. Our database has more than 130,000 players from more than 120 competitions, covering information from all over the world. Here you can learn more about how we work and what we offer.

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