The Smarter Player

Is he tall, strong, quick? Sound familiar?  Common traits inquired about and sought-after in a footballer in some or arguably most parts of the World.  An interesting recent discussion with an Irish based scout working on behalf of a well-known English Premier League Club club heightened our suspicions as to what the modern scout sees and is looking for in games within the UK and Ireland.  When asked how he goes about assessing a footballer the scout informed us that he will look for physical attributes first and foremost (Speed, height,etc.) he explained that he mostly watches the player off the ball to assess his positional sense, character and attitude.

The priority given by the scout to evaluate physical attributes first and foremost has got us thinking.  How many potential Xavi's, Pirlo's or Iniesta's and so on are we overlooking in the UK and Ireland if some scouts are evaluating physical attributes first and foremost?

We recently interviewed Spanish director of football for Smartfootball and CE Futbol Salou Albert Vinas i Aliau and asked him what he felt the most important qualities for a footballer are. The answer (see video below) failed to give any reference to physical attributes.  

The final quote in that interview "we look for intelligent players".  This quote indicates that priority is not given to physical attributes first and foremost within his methodology and further discussions revealed that in Spain for example he believed the majority of footballers need to be at a high level of technical standard and intelligence to stand out when being evaluated by scouts.  Physical conditioning was described as something that could be worked on as boys get older, game intelligence and technique was described as being of utmost importance to develop from an early age.  

A general opinion in Ireland and the UK among coaches is that we are not producing enough technically gifted and intelligent footballers.  Are there technically gifted and intelligent footballers out there being overlooked as a result of lack of height, strength, speed, etc is the question we ask?  How many scouts are turning a blind eye to footballers that could potentially be the next Pirlo, Xavi or Iniesta.


Having physical attributes like Speed, Strength, Technique, etc. without having the game intelligence to go along with them is like owning a Ferrari but with only a beginner driver inside it.

Take the likes of Pirlo, Xavi or players of that ilk. Not tall, not quick, not particularly strong, never players who are going to beat three and four men.  In car terms maybe an Open Astra at best.

The Ferrari has all the perks and a significant advantage regarding speed, power, etc. vs the Open Astra but ultimately it's the decision making of the person driving the cars that will decide which cars make the right turns and the least mistakes on the road (Decision making takes place in the brain)