In Any Given Sunday Toni D'Amato (Al Pacino) tells the Miami Sharks that just like life, football is a game of inches and “that when we add up all those inches, that’s what gonna make the f*ckin difference between winning and losing”.
With Mr.Pacino's inspiration in mind, we've started adding up all those inches for soccer (or in this case centimetres!).
Previously I collected data on the height of central defenders in the World Cup. Below is time series data on player height for six countries from the 1978 World Cup through to the 2014 competition.
The average height of the World Cup squads sampled is getting taller. With the exception of the Netherlands every other country’s squad has increased by approximately 3-4cm on average since the 1978 World Cup.
There's plenty more to follow from this dataset* that will hopefully allow some novel insights to the evolution of the European footballers stature.
*This data was collected with the help of students Kathy Stout & Luke Doyle