I noticed when pootling about the internet the other day that several Norwich City players share the same birth month. Mmm. That set me wondering… Could the date of your birth define your chances of becoming a professional footballer?
The answer is… No. Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.
But, before we get carried away with some lofty pooh-poohing, perhaps it’s worth having a little look at the facts before we relax safe in the knowledge the subject has been sufficiently researched and explored. Then – and only then – can we let the poohs run free.
The following table shows the birth month distribution for the 31 players currently listed as first team squad members for Norwich City FC*:
(NB: Data compiled from Wikipedia which for legal reasons we’ll describe as entirely reliable and accurate.)
Rather oddly, over half of the players (55% – 17 out of 31) were born in the three winter months, December, January and February; whereas only two were born during the summer months, ie. June, July, and August (6% – 2 out of 31).
That rather overwhelmingly suggests that being born in the winter is a defining characteristic of a professional footballer. As football is traditionally a winter game (summer international competitions apart) perhaps it’s not surprising that footballers are more likely to be born at that time of year.
‘What tommyrot!’ – you cry – ‘Utter rubbish! That’s so unscientific! Where’s your method? You must know that to adequately explain an aspect of the natural world you need to test it repeatedly and verify it against scientific method using accepted protocols of observation, measurement, and evaluation of results?’ (Thanks again, Wikipedia – Probably The Best Information Source In The World)
OK, OK, you have a point…
Let’s take a random sample of the best players in the world historically and see how their birth months compare… Let’s try Raheem Sterling, Kylian Mbappe, David Villa, Karim Benzema, Alexis Sanchez, Marcos Alonso, Christian Benteke, Eder, Gordon Banks, Eden Hazard, Luis Suarez, Romario, David Silva, Eusebio, Leroy Sane, Bryan Robson, Davor Sukar, David Ginola, Robert Prosinecki, Claudia Caniggia, Xavi, Christiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Gabriel Batistuta, Roberto Baggio, Jimmy Greaves, Ghoerghe Hagi, Hristo Stoichkov, Claude Makelele, Stanley Matthews, and Socrates.
Blimey, that seems to corroborate our previous findings – And some! Now it seems certain that 100% of great players are born in wintertime…
… but of course you know that wasn’t a random sample, that was just me picking a list of famous players who were born in December, January, or February. Tut. I feel such a heel. But it’s good to know stats (and statisticians) can mislead.
How about a fairer comparison? A genuine set of data where we compare the birth months of all the winners of the FIFA World Footballers of the Year and Ballon d’Or (formerly European Footballer of the Year) since the outset of those awards (excluding duplicate wins) and see what that shows us?**
Here’s the data:
As you can see, no corroboration at all. Complete load of tosh. As I said at the start, hey-ho. Sorry for wasting your time. Feel free to pooh-pooh to your heart’s content.
Anyway, next week I’m doing players’ star signs, shoe sizes, and their favourite colours. Now that will be a cracking read!
Stay well and happy everybody!
* Current NCFC first team squad listed as: Tim Krul, Max Aarons, Sam Byram, Ben Godfrey, Grant Hanley, Christoph Zimmermann, Lukas Rupp, Mario Vrancic, Moritz Leitner, Onel Hernandez, Jamal Lewis, Todd Cantwell, Timm Klose, Emi Buendia, Marco Stiepermann, Tom Trybull, Josip Drmic, Teemu Pukki, Kenny McLean, Ondrej Duja, Alexander Tettey, Michael McGovern, Louis Thompson, Adam Idah, Aston Oxborough, Akin Famewo, Josh Martin, Sean Raggett, Carlton Morris, Melvin Sitti, and Sam McCallum.
** FIFA World Footballers of the Year and Ballon d’Or (formerly European Footballer of the Year) winners listed as: Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Franz Beckenbauer, Ronaldo, Alfredo di Stefano, Kevin Keegan, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Luis Suarez, Eusebio, Bobby Charlton, Raymond Kopa, Gerd Muller, Zinedine Zidane, Gianni Rivera, Ruud Gullit, Lothar Matthaus, Roberto Baggio, Hristo Stoichkov, Andriy Shevchenko, George Best, Allan Simonsen, Ronaldinho, George Weah, Rivaldo, Luis Figo, Fabio Cannavarro, and Kaka.