The face of modern football

Forget stats and scouting reports – everything you need to know about a player can be found from the neck up

Chelsea’s Diego Costa may not have David Beckham’s trendy barnet or Paolo Maldini’s chiselled good looks, but he’s got a face built for success.

The Spanish frontman has what experts call a high facial width-to-height ratio (FWHR) and that, according to research, is a sure-fire way of decoding a player’s potential for hitting the target – and opponents.

More after the break

“This method predicts a surprising degree of aggressive behaviour in athletes,” explains Keith Welker from the University of Colorado Boulder.  Welker and his team examined the FHWR – the distance between the cheekbones divided by the distance between the mid-brow and the upper lip – of 1,000 players at the 2010 World Cup.

The study revealed that midfielders with higher FWHRs were more likely to commit fouls – and that you could bet on forwards with higher FWHRs to score goals, lay on assists and pick up yellow cards.

Researchers linked this to testosterone and how it shapes men’s features during puberty.

Players with a meaty set of chops were more aggressive and competitive. “Facial structure isn’t as strong a predictor of performance as training, fitness, body size and experience, but the research shows it is a unique predictor for the effects of testosterone on the brain and body,” adds Welker. Grrr!

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