Do Dual Footed Football Players Score More Goals?

top down view of football and two sets of football bootsSomething that perhaps not many people think about in football, often because they simply prefer to enjoy the game rather than pay much attention to individual statistics, however, over the years some players have become iconic for being incredible with one foot.

Professionals such as Ryan Giggs for example, who was heavily reliant on his left foot, and as a result, scored the vast majority of his goals with this and while, many an opponent tried to force him onto his right, he was simply too skilful most of the time. Could this mean that one-footed players actually score more goals? As the stats below show, it does appear that this is the case.

However, it got us thinking, whether dual footed players score more goals, because of the increased number of opportunities that they may possibly have, where they do not need to try and create space to move onto their favoured foot, which could give opponents a chance to prevent them from scoring.

How Important Is It To Be Able To Use Both Feet?

Football TackleThere is an argument that any footballer should be able to use both feet just as effectively, because essentially, in the simplest of terms, they are the tools that they need in order to do their job. A number of critics over the years have claimed that if a player is being paid what is considered to be a significant amount of money to play football, then they should be just as good with both feet, however, surprisingly, this is not the case.

Even today, it is quite rare to find a lot of players, especially in one team that can do everything with both of their feet, whether this is shooting, passing, dribbling or even tackling. For players who are especially heavily one-footed, over the years, managers have adopted the tactic of having one of their own team members force an opponent onto their weaker foot in order to restrict what they are able to do in a game. However, for the very best players, they are able to get around this with speed and trickery, such as Lionel Messi in his prime.

It could be argued though that to play at the highest level of the game (especially considering the astronomical wages that some players are paid), that they should be able to use both feet just as effectively without even thinking about it.

Because of this, it does throw up an argument as to whether players who can use both feet score more goals or whether they are presented with more goal-scoring opportunities due to the positions that they get themselves into. We have seen many times players who look like they are in a great position to score but the angle at which they are means they are on their weaker foot. As they try to manoeuvre onto their favoured foot, they lose valuable time, giving their opponents a chance to prevent the chance – more often than not, the attacking player loses the opportunity. This is one particular occasion that causes spectators to criticise some players; they are after all paid to play football, using the tools available to them just as effectively.

It can also be the difference between a team missing out on winning an important game or losing a league title, simply because their players are incapable of using both feet.

How Does Position Affect Things?

football formationsWhile perhaps there are certain positions that are self-explanatory for being heavily one-footed, the most common being full-back (right or left), there are others where being able to use both feet can be crucial to a team’s ability to play the way that a manager wants them to.

Central midfield – especially a deep-lying playmaker whose role it is to dictate play from deep, start attacks and play penetrating passes; this is where being able to use both feet can be fundamental, particularly against an opponent that closes down aggressively. Being able to move both ways, makes it less predictable and gives a team a huge advantage.

In terms of goal-scoring, this can also be attributed to central midfield players, who are often renowned for shooting from range, or arriving late in an attacking move to shoot from outside of the box – this is where being able to use both feet, again, is a considerable benefit.

Over the last few years, there have been managers who like their teams to play out from the back, which warrants the use of centre backs, who are comfortable on the ball and can pass. Regardless of what side of the defence a centre back can play, it is again, a big advantage if they can use both feet, especially against teams that press high up the pitch. However, even if a centre back can use both feet, it is very rare to see them in goal-scoring positions, unless from an attacking set-piece, which is often more reliant on their aerial ability.

Traditionally, managers would use ‘out and out’ wingers and have a right-footed winger playing on the right and the same on the left. However, now a lot of managers do the opposite so that they can cut inside and shoot on their favoured foot. There are some in this position though who are just as capable of using both feet, which makes them unpredictable for an opponent.

Traditionally, it was often the case for teams to have two strikers – one right-footed and the other left-footed. As a result, it would give them a better chance of scoring from the positions that they would get into on the pitch, especially in the penalty area.

Examples Of Dual-Footed Players Who Score Goals

PlayerFor Which ClubPositionGoals ScoredAssists
Mason GreenwoodManchester UnitedStriker3412
Steven GerrardLiverpoolCentral Midfielder186150
Frank LampardChelseaCentral Midfielder211150
Santi CazorlaArsenalAttacking Midfielder2945
Kevin De BruyneManchester CityCentral Midfielder72108
Diogo JotaLiverpoolWinger233

Over the years, there have been many examples of players who have shown great aptitude using both feet. Most of these have been players of more of an attacking nature, either strikers, wingers or central attacking midfield players. Let’s take a look at some examples of players past and present who are just as prolific scoring with both feet.

Mason Greenwood

Even though the player is still only 20, the Manchester United academy product appears to have no weaker foot and has become a major asset for the Red Devils. Former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently gushed about the prodigy’s talent: “Mason is a different class in and around the box. He’s a special goalscoring talent, a special kid that we’re going to see lots more of in the years to come. It’s just so natural for him. If you open your legs, he shoots through you. If you close your legs, he shoots around you. He can go on his right or left.”

In 122 appearances for his club, he has scored 34 goals, contributing 12 assists and as Solskjaer refers to, this could well be split evenly between either foot. Greenwood is also versatile, able to play as a striker or on the wing.

Steven Gerrard

One of the most prolific goal-scoring central midfielders of all time, the former Liverpool captain was renowned for his ability to score goals of box office quality – usually long-range strikes. In 710 appearances for the Reds, he scored 186 goals, contributing 150 assists, playing key roles in his team’s unforgettable Champions League final victory in 2005 and their FA Cup final win a year later. While he had a rocket of right foot, he was also capable of scoring with his left if he needed to.

Frank Lampard

Gerrard’s fellow England teammate, Lampard was another who showed he was just as good as the Liverpool captain. They frequently scored just as many goals as each other in a season; with very similar traits. Lampard fared slightly better than Gerrard, while playing for Chelsea, presenting an argument that he was perhaps more attacking. In 648 appearances, he scored 211 goals, contributing 150 assists. While he favoured his right foot, there were also instances where he was instinctive with his left when presented with a goal-scoring opportunity.

Santi Cazorla

Arguably one of Arsene Wenger’s best signings for Arsenal, considering the £20 million fee that the club paid. A maestro with both feet – particularly in terms of assists, though he also had a natural goal-scoring instinct. The attacking midfielder scored 29 goals and contributed 45 assists in 180 games for Arsenal, becoming an invaluable player for them.

Kevin De Bruyne

Current Manchester City player De Bruyne has demonstrated his qualities with either foot throughout his tenure at the club; something that boss Pep Guardiola likes from his attacking players. In 280 appearances (at the time of writing), the central midfielder has scored 72 goals and provided 108 assists for City and has been vital to the club’s Premier League title-winning campaigns. While he prefers his left foot, he is just as capable using his right, as demonstrated in much footage of the player.

Diogo Jota

A player with seemingly no weaker foot, which can be seen from multiple clips, the winger (who can also play as a striker) can dribble, pass and also score with either foot and has become an integral part of the current Liverpool squad. In just 50 appearances for the Reds, he has 23 goals and contributed three assists, demonstrating that he has more of a predatorial instinct within the penalty area.

What About One-Footed Players?

PlayerFor Which ClubPositionGoalsAssists
Ryan GiggsManchester UnitedLeft Winger164250
Thierry HenryArsenalStriker228106
Lionel MessiBarcelonaRight Winger672301
David BeckhamManchester UnitedRight Winger85105
Michael OwenLiverpoolStriker15849
Mark VidukaLeeds UnitedStriker7111

There are many notable examples of prolific one-footed players over the last couple of decades who famously favoured their stronger foot. Below is a table that shows a number of these and the amount of goals they scored at the club where they made the biggest impact.

The players in the table above refers to those who were very heavily one-footed and their record at the club where they were most effective. Based on this sample, comparing the two tables, it shows that one-footed players score more goals than dual footed players because they have honed their game to make sure that they can adapt to just only using one foot – playing to their strengths as it were.

Giggs is a prime example of a player who used his pace and dribbling ability to make sure that he could get into effective positions where he could score on his left foot, while Messi used his trickery. Viduka was a different breed of player, who used his strength to outmuscle defenders in order to work an opportunity on his favoured right foot which was just as effective. Meanwhile, Owen mastered his movement and the timing of his runs and this became pivotal with regards to his goal-scoring chances on his right foot.

One-Footed Players Appear To Score More Goals

There could be a number of reasons for this, though, for dual-footed players, it could well come to indecision, knowing which foot to use in order to score and the time that it takes them to make that choice, the opportunity is then gone.

It, therefore, presents an argument, that one-footed players are more instinctive and as a result, are able to play to their strengths. Of course, in both cases, it could be argued that there are exceptions to this and a player’s position (as explored above), may also be a factor.