Lefties or righties? Which dominant foot makes a better footballer? 

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Lethal lefties? Or is right always right? Let’s go through which dominant foot reigns supreme in the football world.  

Now, before we start diving into the football world, we need to assess the world as a whole, and lefties do get it a little bit rougher in comparison to righties in everyday life.  

Think of cars, instruments, doors and even those horrid school exam desks with the table attached to the right side. Nearly everything is catered for righties. 

And that is no surprise considering 85-90 per cent of the world is right-handed. Yet despite such a small percentage of the world’s population being left-handed, the lefties seem to be extremely lethal on the football pitch. 

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You do not need to think long and hard about sensational lefties as Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Roberto Carlos and Arjen Robben spring to mind instantly. 

But don’t worry righties, you have your own brigade of stars in Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele, Johan Cruyff and Zinedine Zidane.  

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So which foot, if any, creates a better footballer? 

Science research 

Trust me, I am no scientist so I will put this into layman’s terms the best I can.  

Essentially, there are two hemispheres to the brain – the left hemisphere which controls the right half of the body (right footed players), and the right hemisphere controls the left half of the body (left footed players). And each of these hemispheres have their own list of functions:

Credit: https://brainmadesimple.com/left-and-right-hemispheres/
Credit: https://brainmadesimple.com/left-and-right-hemispheres/

To summarise, the ability to be creative, perceive space and awareness is present on the right hemisphere of brain. Whereas the left hemisphere is more methodical and logical. 

In a football term, this makes perfect sense. Lefties in the A-League Men such as Craig Goodwin, Alessandro Diamanti and Ulises Dávila always seem to have time – they’re creative and have excellent perception of space. 

Meanwhile, righties such as Jamie Maclaren and Bruno Fornaroli are your methodical goal scorers that continue to get the job done time and time again. 

In this argument, both lefties and righties have their own positives and negatives. But it does show that there is a scientific difference between them. 

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Rarity 

In the A-League Men, 36% of the league is left footed, which is the same average across men’s football internationally. 

And despite two thirds of the football world being right footed, lefties always have a spot in football. Positions such as left-back are predominantly for lefties, whilst a lot of left-footed players also play on the right wing. 

Therefore, there is an argument that since lefties are less common than right footers, they have then become valuable.  

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Accolades 

Now the accolades section may be the only argument section that can have a definitive answer. 

Since the 2005/06 season, there have been 15 different Johnny Warren award winners. The Johnny Warren award is presented to the player who is deemed to be the best player overall at the end of the season as judged by his fellow players. 

Out of the 15 winners… 

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Two were considered to have both feet as preferred feet (Marcos Flores and Nathan Burns), whilst four were lefties. Leaving the remaining nine winners to righties.  

Essentially, nearly 50% of Johnny Warren award winners have been left footed, despite only 36% of the league being left footed. 

And for the FIFA lovers, here is a stat – in FIFA 22 there is currently four A-League Men players that are gold (75+ rated). Three of the four are lefties. 

Now this article may not have settled any sibling rivalries, but it has shown that despite the small amount of lefties out there in the world, they sure are lethal on the football pitch.  

Featured image credit: Cameron McIntosh

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Cameron Ottenhoff
Cameron Ottenhoff
Sport, media and communications student at Flinders University in Adelaide. I was forced to hang the boots up at a young age after discovering I'm no good at sport, so now I just talk about it instead.

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