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A Shift in the Opinion on Height?


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So, it's quite common you hear stories about how players that go on to become very good players have been rejected elsewhere as a kid because they're 'too small'. Harry Kane being released from Arsenal at eleven is the most popular rumour, and a former Manchester City academy coach has recently claimed that Marcus Rashford was rejected by themselves because of concerns of his height.

In the Premier League we have Lucas Torreira, a player who has had a very big impact with the way Arsenal play, standing at 5'5. Then we also Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth, who is having a great season, standing at 5'4.

With Premier League clubs seemingly shifting to styles where quick play and wing backs have become crucial in the way almost all sides play. Do you think we're going to see more smaller players coming through and having a big impact on the Premier League in the near future?

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The wonderful thing about football, as opposed to pretty much every other sport, is that height is no real guarantee of success. I'm not sure there's any more smaller players than before though, there's always been short players plying their trade in the Premier League. Remember the days of Dennis Wise and Dickov mixing it at a time when English football was at its most physical.

Obviously the success of Manchester City sets an example of how to play football which is less reliant on physicality but not sure it will result in more short players per se. I think it means we'll see less players getting through purely because they are physically imposing.

 

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It's a bit of a myth, I think. 
Although not in the Premier League, Messi is probably the 'biggest' example - I'm pretty sure he was rejected by clubs because of his small height and spinal problems (I think Barcelona paid for surgery/medical bills to have his spinal issue corrected, @SirBalon ?).

There's been many players in the past, even a couple of decades ago who succeeded in what was probably a more physical time for the game in itself - Gianfranco Zola is a prime example. Smaller players currently already have a big impact on the game - Hazard, Mata, Kante etc.

Being strong and physical and tall may make you stand out more but won't always equate to being a better player.

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1 hour ago, Stan said:

It's a bit of a myth, I think. 
Although not in the Premier League, Messi is probably the 'biggest' example - I'm pretty sure he was rejected by clubs because of his small height and spinal problems (I think Barcelona paid for surgery/medical bills to have his spinal issue corrected, @SirBalon ?).

There's been many players in the past, even a couple of decades ago who succeeded in what was probably a more physical time for the game in itself - Gianfranco Zola is a prime example. Smaller players currently already have a big impact on the game - Hazard, Mata, Kante etc.

Being strong and physical and tall may make you stand out more but won't always equate to being a better player.

Yeah, Messi was rejected by Newell and River before going to Barcelona because they didn't want to pay the surgery for him.

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Best two players in history are/were small after all. Maradona and Messi.

You need both tall and small players as shorter height can also come in handy at some positions. And also for example a tall CB is preferred but would you take a tall CB who's very clumsy and sucks over a smaller one that's much better?, i wouldn't.

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I don't think this is a height issue but a puberty one. Once you reach adulthood you can develop competitive strength and speed. At youth level it can be a bit different. Two 14 year olds can very much be at completely different physical stages of life that leads one to be better than the other, but technically they might not be.

I will always remember going to the FA youth cup quarter final several years back between Newcastle and Chelsea. The two teams came out and it was clear that there would only be one winner. Our lads looked like they only just got their first pube and their mothers picked shirt sizes they'd grow into. The Chelsea lot were all 6ft 3, full coverage stubble and fed solely on oats. 

There is a good reason why there are no 14 year old professional footballers, tennis players, rugby players etc. There is a clear physical advantage to being an adult. At youth level coaches are looking for adult traits as it improves their chances of winning.

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8 minutes ago, Harvsky said:

I don't think this is a height issue but a puberty one. Once you reach adulthood you can develop competitive strength and speed. At youth level it can be a bit different. Two 14 year olds can very much be at completely different physical stages of life that leads one to be better than the other, but technically they might not be.

I will always remember going to the FA youth cup quarter final several years back between Newcastle and Chelsea. The two teams came out and it was clear that there would only be one winner. Our lads looked like they only just got their first pube and their mothers picked shirt sizes they'd grow into. The Chelsea lot were all 6ft 3, full coverage stubble and fed solely on oats. 

There is a good reason why there are no 14 year old professional footballers, tennis players, rugby players etc. There is a clear physical advantage to being an adult. At youth level coaches are looking for adult traits as it improves their chances of winning.

Pretty much  this. Anyone who looks at youth football's purpose as being to win is setting themselves up to fail miserably in the long run. The purpose is to pick the players who will be best in 4 or 5 or even 10 years' time, but you've got too many who look at youth tournaments as being meaningful in some way who actually let the idea of winning actually affect their team selections.

Had the same experience watching Scotland v Ireland play in a U-17s tournament. The Irish had a few inches over us on average at least, were physically superior in every way, and won comfortably narrowly despite us having some excellent young talents like Billy Gilmour. 

That's just Ireland's sporting culture, fair enough to them, and the physicality-first way of thinking has served them well in the last few years. But if you asked me which national team I'd rather be supporting in 4-5 years, I'd comfortably say Scotland over Ireland.

 

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Height and power are just more tools in the toolbox. They aren't the complete picture. Ronaldo does some things others can't do because he's such a physical beast. This doesn't necessarily make him a better player by itself, but it's an advantage, a pin on his chest. Small players aren't 'overcoming' anything, they just have different skill sets in general.

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3 hours ago, Stan said:

It's a bit of a myth, I think. 
Although not in the Premier League, Messi is probably the 'biggest' example - I'm pretty sure he was rejected by clubs because of his small height and spinal problems (I think Barcelona paid for surgery/medical bills to have his spinal issue corrected, @SirBalon ?).

There's been many players in the past, even a couple of decades ago who succeeded in what was probably a more physical time for the game in itself - Gianfranco Zola is a prime example. Smaller players currently already have a big impact on the game - Hazard, Mata, Kante etc.

Being strong and physical and tall may make you stand out more but won't always equate to being a better player.

Only Barcelona were ever in for Messi from Europe.  As has been referred to many times, Messi had physical issues that needed to be corrected for him to be able to perform in the future as a professional. 

Carles Rexach who famously signed him on a paper napkin in a restaurant did so because those in charge of Messi's release didn't believe there was anyone that would pay for everything that had to be done plus add the financial burden of maintaining the family in every way due to the fact the Messi family didn't have any financial means of supporting themselves outside of Argentina.  So it was a very complicated and rather big issue surrounding the giving of a possibility to a 12 year old.

Rexach asked a waiter for the paper napkin, called the club via his mobile phone, put it on loud speaker where the president of the club guaranteed to all present that whatever Carles Rexach jotted on that paper napkin would be respected by the club.  That paper napkin actually resides in the FC Barcelona museum today!

servilleta_1.jpg_1995527733.jpg

But this isn't a debate about Lionel Messi, it's a debate about the necessity of height or not in football.  Everyone knows my feelings on that debate but those feelings don't mean all that much and there are historical turn of events in how the game is focused and played that have swayed the pendulum more favourably in the direction of shorter players which concern factual scientific facts on the speed of how humans move and react where technique is in question and how (in Cruyff's words) a human of smaller stature can simply position their body to take advantage of a lesser physical presence in terms of creating an effective illusion of strength and then use the further attributes a shorter player has had to condition themselves to use since an early age when confronting opponents of a much bulkier physical stature.

It's basically an evolution in how the game is played  that has made a larger number of shorter players than were previously witnessed at the top end of professional football be active.

As for the side debate (which is important in this) of the emphasis of winning in youth level especially from infant teams, well again, that's another mentality that has slowly changed in more northern based European leagues who have been slower and more hesitant to react in this sense.  Winning is the lowest priority and has been for decades for example in Spanish youth football.  The main factor of competing in youth football for Spanish teams is for the technical staff to witness the performance and results of important factors when competing against more physically attributed players.  You can lose and gain positivity as a reference because the kids themselves are taught to understand that they should first and foremost be enjoying their football and that their coaches aren't searching to total of goals amounts over 90 minutes, but how they function as a team when an ideal on how the game is being played is put into use.

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55 minutes ago, Devil-Dick Willie said:

Height and power are just more tools in the toolbox.

That's not correct and part of the reason why in some countries it's taken longer to understand that it isn't correct.  There aren't any more tools from a physical standpoint on height and stature.  Technique and body positioning can overcome practically every opposing  physical difference.  Look at Messi's intelligence in the Champions League Final headed goal versus Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United.  Too much emphasis was originally put on a supposed error made by Rio in reading the situation for that goal and not enough (initially, because today it's understood) on what Messi had cleverly done by not reading the play and instead reading his one-on-one opponent.

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Some shortie greats past and present...

Beckenbauer 5" 11, Mbappe 5" 10, Neymar & Eusébio 5" 9,  Pelé & (Sir) Bobby Charlton 5"8, Messi 5"7 and mighty mouse Maradonna at 5"7

Then you have the two Ronaldo's, Cristiano at 6" 2 and  Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima at "6" 0 as two big greats.

And the long and the short of it that I don't think height makes any difference.  

 

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WHY SHORT SOCCER PLAYERS ARE ON THE RISE

By JY Lee

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because the un-tall get the short shrift in every American sport.

In my teens, I thought I was too short to be a soccer star. Real Madrid, my favorite team, was brimming with 6-foot-tall Galácticos David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane. By 2011, however, I had shifted allegiance to their nemesis Barcelona — not because Madrid picked up cocky Cristiano Ronaldo, but because all five of Barça’s attackers — Lionel Messi, Alexis Sánchez and Spaniards Pedro Rodriguez, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta — were my height: a cool 5-foot-7. And it turns out that was part of a greater trend.

The average height among elite players fell by two inches from 2005 to 2015.

This is according to in-house OZY analysis that looked at the 11 players selected each year for FIFA FIFPro World XI for that decade. Every year since 2005, over 20,000 professional soccer players around the world elect crème-de-la-crème footballers to World XI. The weighted average height of these soccer maestros fell by about two inches, from 6′0″ in 2005 to 5′10″ in 2015. The most dramatic diminution has been among the midfielders, as the average height of the three playmakers plummeted from 6′1″ in 2007 to 5′7″ in 2010 and 2013.

94465_INFO_1.jpg

Trophies reflect this downward spiral, as teams led or captained by 5′7″ players won the last two World Cups and the Euros, as well as the Champions League in four out of the last seven years. The driving force behind the rise of shorties was the emergence of tiki-taka, a playing style that relies on short, agile and technically gifted players such as the Catalan trinity of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. Pioneered and perfected at Barcelona and adopted by Spain, the tactic, equally admired and abhorred for its obsession with passing and possession, made these teams untouchable between 2008 and 2012.

After his formidable spell as the manager of Barcelona during its heyday, Pep Guardiola migrated to Bayern Munich in 2013 to evangelize tiki-taka. With Bayern players forming the backbone of its squad, Germany won the World Cup a year later thanks to 5′9″ midfielder Mario Götze’s extra-time goal. “Once Barcelona and Spain succeeded at the highest level, short players benefited as teams kept the ball on the ground more and used technical skills over physicality,” says 5′7″ San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson. Lots of defenders say the smallest players give you the biggest problems, he adds, “because they go under you with faster pivot.”

More research is needed to definitively establish a trend — a sample size of 11 players over 11 years obviously has its limits. Plus, soccer geniuses have appeared in every size, as legendary Pele was 5′8″ and Diego Maradona 5′5″. “One thing about soccer that makes it a great sport is that there is no physical type required,” says Duke professor Laurent DuBois, author of Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France. According to DuBois, it’s the combination of physical and mental traits, “the strategic as well as technical sense,” that makes a great player. It may be that we just witnessed a phenomenally talented generation of dwarfs. A number of things could buck the trend: the rising crop of superstars, such as 6′3″ midfielder Paul Pogba, or Madrid, which cracked tiki-taka by defending like a limpet before unleashing blitz counterattacks.

With the last tiki-taka architect, 5′7″ Iniesta, nearing retirement, I may need a new way to kick my Napoleon complex.  

https://www.ozy.com/acumen/why-short-soccer-players-are-on-the-rise/70586

 
 
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11 minutes ago, CaaC - John said:

WHY SHORT SOCCER PLAYERS ARE ON THE RISE

By JY Lee

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because the un-tall get the short shrift in every American sport.

In my teens, I thought I was too short to be a soccer star. Real Madrid, my favorite team, was brimming with 6-foot-tall Galácticos David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane. By 2011, however, I had shifted allegiance to their nemesis Barcelona — not because Madrid picked up cocky Cristiano Ronaldo, but because all five of Barça’s attackers — Lionel Messi, Alexis Sánchez and Spaniards Pedro Rodriguez, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta — were my height: a cool 5-foot-7. And it turns out that was part of a greater trend.

The average height among elite players fell by two inches from 2005 to 2015.

This is according to in-house OZY analysis that looked at the 11 players selected each year for FIFA FIFPro World XI for that decade. Every year since 2005, over 20,000 professional soccer players around the world elect crème-de-la-crème footballers to World XI. The weighted average height of these soccer maestros fell by about two inches, from 6′0″ in 2005 to 5′10″ in 2015. The most dramatic diminution has been among the midfielders, as the average height of the three playmakers plummeted from 6′1″ in 2007 to 5′7″ in 2010 and 2013.

94465_INFO_1.jpg

Trophies reflect this downward spiral, as teams led or captained by 5′7″ players won the last two World Cups and the Euros, as well as the Champions League in four out of the last seven years. The driving force behind the rise of shorties was the emergence of tiki-taka, a playing style that relies on short, agile and technically gifted players such as the Catalan trinity of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. Pioneered and perfected at Barcelona and adopted by Spain, the tactic, equally admired and abhorred for its obsession with passing and possession, made these teams untouchable between 2008 and 2012.

After his formidable spell as the manager of Barcelona during its heyday, Pep Guardiola migrated to Bayern Munich in 2013 to evangelize tiki-taka. With Bayern players forming the backbone of its squad, Germany won the World Cup a year later thanks to 5′9″ midfielder Mario Götze’s extra-time goal. “Once Barcelona and Spain succeeded at the highest level, short players benefited as teams kept the ball on the ground more and used technical skills over physicality,” says 5′7″ San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson. Lots of defenders say the smallest players give you the biggest problems, he adds, “because they go under you with faster pivot.”

More research is needed to definitively establish a trend — a sample size of 11 players over 11 years obviously has its limits. Plus, soccer geniuses have appeared in every size, as legendary Pele was 5′8″ and Diego Maradona 5′5″. “One thing about soccer that makes it a great sport is that there is no physical type required,” says Duke professor Laurent DuBois, author of Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France. According to DuBois, it’s the combination of physical and mental traits, “the strategic as well as technical sense,” that makes a great player. It may be that we just witnessed a phenomenally talented generation of dwarfs. A number of things could buck the trend: the rising crop of superstars, such as 6′3″ midfielder Paul Pogba, or Madrid, which cracked tiki-taka by defending like a limpet before unleashing blitz counterattacks.

With the last tiki-taka architect, 5′7″ Iniesta, nearing retirement, I may need a new way to kick my Napoleon complex.  

https://www.ozy.com/acumen/why-short-soccer-players-are-on-the-rise/70586

 
 

Interesting but also very simplistic. It's a lot more complicated than that and it's not just a few factors.

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I wouldn't really call 6ft tall, it's just slightly above average. To me, tall is like 6'2 and above, and when I think of it there aren't really many generationally good players of that height.

It's more common to have midgets who are amongst the best ever than unusually tall people.

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2 hours ago, CaaC - John said:

WHY SHORT SOCCER PLAYERS ARE ON THE RISE

By JY Lee

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because the un-tall get the short shrift in every American sport.

In my teens, I thought I was too short to be a soccer star. Real Madrid, my favorite team, was brimming with 6-foot-tall Galácticos David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane. By 2011, however, I had shifted allegiance to their nemesis Barcelona — not because Madrid picked up cocky Cristiano Ronaldo, but because all five of Barça’s attackers — Lionel Messi, Alexis Sánchez and Spaniards Pedro Rodriguez, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta — were my height: a cool 5-foot-7. And it turns out that was part of a greater trend.

The average height among elite players fell by two inches from 2005 to 2015.

This is according to in-house OZY analysis that looked at the 11 players selected each year for FIFA FIFPro World XI for that decade. Every year since 2005, over 20,000 professional soccer players around the world elect crème-de-la-crème footballers to World XI. The weighted average height of these soccer maestros fell by about two inches, from 6′0″ in 2005 to 5′10″ in 2015. The most dramatic diminution has been among the midfielders, as the average height of the three playmakers plummeted from 6′1″ in 2007 to 5′7″ in 2010 and 2013.

94465_INFO_1.jpg

Trophies reflect this downward spiral, as teams led or captained by 5′7″ players won the last two World Cups and the Euros, as well as the Champions League in four out of the last seven years. The driving force behind the rise of shorties was the emergence of tiki-taka, a playing style that relies on short, agile and technically gifted players such as the Catalan trinity of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. Pioneered and perfected at Barcelona and adopted by Spain, the tactic, equally admired and abhorred for its obsession with passing and possession, made these teams untouchable between 2008 and 2012.

After his formidable spell as the manager of Barcelona during its heyday, Pep Guardiola migrated to Bayern Munich in 2013 to evangelize tiki-taka. With Bayern players forming the backbone of its squad, Germany won the World Cup a year later thanks to 5′9″ midfielder Mario Götze’s extra-time goal. “Once Barcelona and Spain succeeded at the highest level, short players benefited as teams kept the ball on the ground more and used technical skills over physicality,” says 5′7″ San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson. Lots of defenders say the smallest players give you the biggest problems, he adds, “because they go under you with faster pivot.”

More research is needed to definitively establish a trend — a sample size of 11 players over 11 years obviously has its limits. Plus, soccer geniuses have appeared in every size, as legendary Pele was 5′8″ and Diego Maradona 5′5″. “One thing about soccer that makes it a great sport is that there is no physical type required,” says Duke professor Laurent DuBois, author of Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France. According to DuBois, it’s the combination of physical and mental traits, “the strategic as well as technical sense,” that makes a great player. It may be that we just witnessed a phenomenally talented generation of dwarfs. A number of things could buck the trend: the rising crop of superstars, such as 6′3″ midfielder Paul Pogba, or Madrid, which cracked tiki-taka by defending like a limpet before unleashing blitz counterattacks.

With the last tiki-taka architect, 5′7″ Iniesta, nearing retirement, I may need a new way to kick my Napoleon complex.  

https://www.ozy.com/acumen/why-short-soccer-players-are-on-the-rise/70586

 
 

Xavi and Iniesta attackers? 🤔

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26 minutes ago, SirBalon said:

But aside from that... It would be interesting to generate a list of the greatest player 6ft and above in history versus under 5.9ft

Not sure if you could classify some of these as great or not but there are more than likely more around I have missed...

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 6" 5, Gerard Pique 6" 4 1/2, Nemanja Matic & Joel Matip 6"4, Robin van Persia 6" 2, Iker Casillas 6" 1, Edison Cavani 6" 0 and maybe a few more. 

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36 minutes ago, SirBalon said:

6ft is tall in my books but obviously not unusually tall.

But aside from that... It would be interesting to generate a list of the greatest player 6ft and above in history versus under 5.9ft

Messi, Maradona, Muller, De Stefano, Iniesta

vs

Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Cruyff, Van Basten, Zidane 

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4 minutes ago, CaaC - John said:

Not sure if you could classify some of these as great or not but there are more than likely more around I have missed...

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 6" 5, Gerard Pique 6" 4 1/2, Nemanja Matic & Joel Matip 6"4, Robin van Persia 6" 2, Iker Casillas 6" 1, Edison Cavani 6" 0 and maybe a few more. 

I think that tells us the story when we consider the greatest players of all time.

I live Van Persia though. xD

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56 minutes ago, SirBalon said:

6ft is tall in my books but obviously not unusually tall.

But aside from that... It would be interesting to generate a list of the greatest player 6ft and above in history versus under 5.9ft

 

6' is a weird height. I'm 6' and sometimes I feel tall as fuck, while other times it's the complete opposite.

An example was the other week in KFC. Pretty much everyone in there were Chinese, so I felt like an absolute giant, but then I was talking to 2 joiners on site the other week and since they are both about 6'6", I felt like a midget. Funnily enough, both of them were only about 19. I don't know what they feed these young ens these days....

 

 

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