Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Where do the best technical football players in the world come from? Analysing the association between technical proficiency and geographical origin in elite football

Mikael Jamil



Opta seasonal sum total statistics for 1,533 professional football players representing 88 nations around the world were analysed in order to determine where the most proficient technical football players originate from. A series of Kruskal-Wallis tests were conducted and results revealed that South American players were significantly better at scoring the first goal (p = .044), scoring penalties (p = .034) and attempting shots (p = .018) than their European counterparts. Both European and South American players were revealed to be more adept at passing actions than their African, Asian or North American counterparts. Both South American and African players committed significantly more errors than their European, Asian or North American counterparts, with South American players more frequently apprehended by the referee than Asian players (p = .031), European players (p = .020) and North American players (p = .034). African players were revealed to be caught offside (p = .039) as well as have more unsuccessful ball touches (p = .001) and be dispossessed (p = .036) significantly more often than European players. It is concluded that a player’s geographical origin can impact their technical proficiency in football and this theme needs further investigation.


Opta; Player performance; Technical performance; Soccer; Player nationality; Performance analysis, Match analysis


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