3 min read

Footballers are younger than you

Matt Dray (@mattdray)


I wrote an R Shiny app that tells you how many players at World Cup 2018 were younger than you. It’s designed to make you feel old. You’re welcome.

Here’s some solid reviews I’ve received so far:

Very depressing

I knew I was too old to become a great footballer

Just what I needed to see

Thanks folks!

I was at the World Cup Final

Extremely rare and valuable tickets for the (CONIFA) World Cup final

Extremely rare and valuable tickets for the (CONIFA) World Cup final

So the World Cup is over for another year.

I managed to get tickets for the final, where Karpatlya – a Hungarian diaspora in Ukraine – overcame the powerful Northern Cyprus team on penalties at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Enfield, London.

Another successful tournament from the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA).

It didn’t come home

Oh and also the far-less popular FIFA World Cup has finished.

Wonderkid Kylian Mbappé picked up the young player of the tournament as France lifted the trophy for the second time in their history.

Yes, 19-year-old Mbappé is young enough to have been born after France’s last World Cup win in 1998.

Could I still be an international superstar?

It seems only yesterday that I was dreaming of starting alongside hall-of-famer Bermudan Shaun Goater in the Manchester City starting XI at the turn of the millennium. (That reference probably dates me quite well.)

Obviously I can still make it as an elite footballer. Right?

What better way to find out than to build an app with R Shiny?

The app

You can access the app in full on its very own page, but I’ve also embedded it below. Simply input your birthdate and then recoil in horror.

The app asks merely for your birth date – selectable from the dropdown menu – and calculates the number and percentage of players younger than you, with an interactive table that lists who they are.

A colleague suggested that wasn’t enough punishment. So I updated it to tell you how many of the players you could be parent to, assuming you had them when you were age 18.

Enjoy! And take inspiration from Kazuyoshi ‘King Kazu’ Miura, a Japanese 51-year-old (born 1967) who is still playing at time of writing. He’s apparently just played a match for Yokohama FC alongside 16-year-old Koki Saito (born 2001), who in theory is young enough to be his grandson!

Some technicals

The code is available in the matt-dray/wc18-age repo. The content and design may change at some point.

The app is hosted on the shinyapps.io free plan and will stop working when more than 25 hours of use are recorded. Or I might just remove it one day with no explanation.

I used the data set in the AllezCannes/WorldCupSquads GitHub repo, which contains player data scraped from Wikipedia by user philstraforelli.