World-renowned physicist Sir Stephen Hawking, who passed away at the age of 76 on Wednesday, has numerous achievements under his name. A fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the US National Academy of Science, Hawking was regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Albert Einstein.
According to a report by The Guardian, he was approached to formulate England’s chances of success at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2014. The scientist was asked to design formulae for a bookkeeper on how England would fare at the World Cup. Speaking about England’s chances in the penalty shoot-outs, the astrophysicist said, “England couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.”
To analyse England’s chances in the tournament, Hawkings looked at the 45 World Cup matches played by the team since their World Cup victory in 1966. He also analysed the 204 penalties that were taken by England in the penalty shoot-outs in that period of time.
After his observations, the astrophysicist gave five factors which will affect England’s performance in the tournament – environmental, physiological, psychological, political and tactical. Hawkings said that England performs in stadiums that are situated 500 m above sea level. He further added that a temperature rise of five degree Celsius affects England’s win rate by 59 percent. “The game in Belo Horizonte against Costa Rica is the best of a bad bunch, with England’s opener in Manaus against Italy the most difficult. The searing temperature and late kick-off are far from ideal,” Hawking said.
Hawking went on to talk about the psychological factors and said that England perform better when they are wearing red jersey inside of white shirts. He added that red is a colour that perhaps makes players appear more confident and aggressive. He further went on to speak about England’s formation and said that 4-3-3 formation has paved better results for England in the past than the 4-4-2 formation which they were using at that time, with them winning 58 percent of the matches using the former one.
Hawking also gave out tips for success in penalty shoot-outs. The professor said that a player should try to hit on top left or top right corner using the side of the foot. But he added that the speed also plays a role in the game. “Get a runup of more than three steps. Give it some welly,” he said.
Hawking further added that the age of the players does not make much difference. He said that whether a player is right-footed or left-footed also hardly matters. But the scientist added, “But bald players and fair-haired players are more likely to score. The reason for this is unclear. This will remain one of science’s great mysteries.”
Hawking concluded that England need to wear red, play 4-3-3 and have afternoon kick-off timing to succeed. He further added that the country should look to avoid getting referees from South America to best succeed in Brazil.
In spite of the Hawking’s analyses, England failed to win their three matches in the group stages at 2014 FIFA World Cup, losing 2-1 to Italy and then 2-1 to Uruguay and then ending with a goalless draw against Costa Rica. With the draw against Costa Rica, England failed to make it to the top 16 of the tournament.
The FIFA World Cup 2018 will begin from June 14, 2018 with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia in the tournament opener. England will play their first match on June 18 against Tunisia.