Would you pay a barber to cut your hair if he only had the tools to do half your head, or a chef to cook you a meal if he could only provide half a plate of food? Probably not, I imagine, and yet football clubs the world over readily employ half-players.

I am talking, of course, about the strange phenomenon of the strictly one-footed player.

Some one-footed players get away with it. I am thinking primarily of players like Diego Maradona, Gheorghe Hagi and Rivaldo, whose left feet possessed more guile and dexterity than most players possess in both put together.

But these are rare exceptions. Most one-footed players suffer by virtue of their one-footedness. Witness the fear on Michael Owen’s face as he realises he will have to shoot with his left foot, or the panic that grips Petr Cech when forced to clear a back-pass with his right.

Most of the time, players get away with it. After all, if you’re a one-footed professional player you’ve had plenty of time to teach yourself how to quickly transfer the ball to your stronger foot.

But occasionally situations arise when you simply have to use your weaker foot. And one such situation arose in Chelsea’s defeat at Aston Villa yesterday, when Ashley “When I heard Jonathan repeat the figure of £55,000 I nearly swerved off the road” Cole used the wrong foot when attempting to clear Zat Knight’s goalbound header off the line.

Likewise, it was a misjudged, left-footed clearance from Cole in a game against Reading last season that directly caused an own goal by Michael Essien.

In these circumstances, the one-footedness of the player actively harms his team. If Ashley Cole finds a wage of £55,000 a week so incredibly insulting, he would do well to consider how much he might be worth if he could use two feet instead of one.

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Mirror, mirror…

April 10 2007

Stumbled across this rather interesting video on YouTube this morning.

It depicts a number of very famous goals but in mirrored form, as if they had been scored at the opposite end of the ground and with a different foot.

It’s a funny idea, but makes for interesting viewing, if only because it suggests what it would have been like if players like David Beckham and Alan Shearer had been left-footed.

The only goal which doesn’t strike you as being odd is Zinedine Zidane’s sublime volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League Final, because he struck it with his (supposedly weaker) left foot in the first place.