Alex Bryson, Bernd Frick and Rob Simmons: Wage returns to scarce talent: The case of professional football players:
The value of two-footedness
Two-footedness is the ability to use both feet to pass, tackle and shoot. Unsurprisingly, this versatility is strongly related to player performance. Furthermore, it is a fairly unusual talent – around one-sixth of the players in the top five European leagues are two-footed. Although it can be taught from an early age, it rarely occurs. This is changing. A football school was set up in the UK in 2004 claiming to be “the first and original soccer school that concentrates solely on improving the other foot”1. Nevertheless, this training of two-footedness is something that can only be properly developed at an early age in the formative years of a player’s career and is difficult to instil in today’s established professional players. Furthermore, a recent study of amateur and professional players found a “surprising absence of plasticity in foot use, given the importance of learning, experience, and culture in models of handedness and footedness” (Carey et al., 2009). Hence, we can treat footedness as a pre-determined specialist ability that is capable of generating a return.
Does this talent translate into wages? The answer is “yes”. [...]