John Arne Riise was famed for his rocket shots at Liverpool.

Do left-footers have the hardest shots? An (almost) scientific investigation into a football phenomenon

I’ve got this theory, right? I am convinced that left-footed players have a natural predisposition to a piledriver.

When you were a child and you found yourself in goal for a game of heads and volleys or marras (that’s what we called it in County Durham, anyway — I think the rest of the country calls it Wembley Doubles or something), and you squealed, “No blasties!”

When the kid with the hardest shot was bearing down on goal and you started fearing for your facial features/internal organs/life, which foot was that kid using to shoot? It was their left foot, wasn’t it? Yes, it was. It’s a thing.

Let me throw some examples at your frightened little face.

John Arne Riise had a famously power-saturated left ham of a leg. Literally caused Alan Smith to break his leg when he got in the way of a Riise free kick when Liverpool played Manchester United at Anfield in 2006.

It was probably the awkward landing that did for Smith’s poor bones, but getting in the way of that rocket would not have helped. Terrifying power.

Or imagine being a goalkeeper facing up to Adriano. The most famous blastie shot in the history of blasties. This fella had 99 shot power from birth.

He came out of the womb with the midwife shouting, “SHOOOOOOOOOT!” from behind reinforced glass. Probably.

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Illustration of Adriano Imperador celebrating a goal for Inter Milan.

READ: A tribute to the great Adriano: ‘A mix between Ronaldo and Zlatan’

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If a giant sequoia had thighs, they would be the thighs of Roberto Carlos. The only footballer ever to have legs wider than they were long.

A man who would’ve taken goal kicks as if they were direct free kicks if football pitches were long enough to accommodate his half-mile run-up.

A man who redesigned aerodynamics in order to score that free kick against France. Blastie boy royalty.

While Lukas Podolski had power and accuracy. A Polish-born, German-made cannon whose left peg would’ve done a fine job sticking out the side of a pirate ship, blowing holes in Royal Navy vessels with an adidas Brazuca.

Laurent Robert once sparked out Olivier Bernard, his own teammate, with a clearance. Bernard wobbles on his feet for a couple of seconds before hitting the deck with his feet thrown over his head. I pity Olivier Bernard.

Robert would shoot from wherever he felt like shooting, despite being a winger in a team that had actual Alan Shearer as its number 9.

Imagine being a winger in a 4-4-2 system with the greatest and most prolific striker in Premier League history up front, and still being given licence to shoot from wherever-the-fuck. A left foot for the history books.

I know what you’re thinking — but, Andrew, there are right-footed blastie boys too. Yes, of course they are. But you cannot tell me there are a greater proportion of right-footed thunder bastard merchants than there are lefties.

Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but if you try to tell me that Gabriel Batistuta isn’t spiritually left-footed, you’re only lying to yourself.

Batistuta is as left-footed as they come in every way except for actually being left-footed. If YouTube didn’t exist, I’m willing to bet at least half of you would tell me Batistuta was a leftie if I asked you for a quickfire answer.

Anyway, enough of my bullsh*t — I thought I’d do some actual scientific digging into this.

One of my dearest pals happens to be a chiropractor and, for the sake of this piece, let’s call him, in his own words, “a sports scientist or a neurologist or some shit to make it seem legit.”

So I asked respected sports scientist and neurologist Dr. Scott Gimby, whether being left-footed, or even left-footed and right-handed might give players an advantage in the search for scary shot power.

“If you were to properly assess strength between left-footers and right-footers, realistically it would probably be about the same,” he said.

“Power is more important. Explosive power. How easily they can generate a huge amount of force in a short period of time.

“I imagine, because left-footed players are generally more ambipedal (the foot version of ambidextrous), than right-footed players are and part of that is neurological, to do with the cross-hemispheric connections or synapses and the way they react.

“If there was any difference in the top level left-footed players compared to right-footed players, it’s probably to do with having better control over their stance foot.”

Dr. Gimby then suggested I do more research into this by contacting the FA and football clubs, as well as doing deeper research into scientific journals, as if I have the time. That’s why I rang him.

He did say there is no skeletal reason why lefties would be blasties, so we can rule out the skeletons. Although I do reckon Roberto Carlos has got femurs like steam engine pistons.

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Roberto Carlos celebrating his goal against France. July 1997, Paris, France.

READ: Roberto Carlos: So good he needed scientists to explain his goals

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There’s more, though. Lots of the best wingers, forwards, and number 10s in the world are left-footed and right-handed: Messi, Maradona, Griezmann, Giggs, Bale… all left foot, right hand.

Kevin de Bruyne, Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas, all central midfielders with superhuman passing ability: right-footed, left-handed. I’m actually starting to believe my own theory at this point.

Then there’s Obafemi Martins. Blastises from both feet. And maybe there’s something in that.

Dr. Gimby told me it might be worth researching the neurological pathways of the blastie boys. Martins used to take penalties with either foot for Newcastle, and he could smash the ball equally hard with either foot.

Maybe that control over his standing leg is what was allowing him to generate that power.

Standby for my half-arsed deep dive into two-footed footballers with a very hard shot but, for now, my word count is rapidly approaching and…

By Andrew Martin

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