Professor Stephen Hawking: How England can win the World Cup

Professor Stephen Hawking takes a look at the science behind England's performances at the World Cup

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
stephen hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking Photo: Paddy Power

After cracking some of the innermost secrets of the cosmos, Professor Stephen Hawking has turned his attention to an even greater conundrum – how can England win the World Cup?

The award-winning scientist was commissioned by Paddy Power (who are offering new customers 100/1 on England to win the World Cup) to lead a month-long study into the science of the Three Lions’ performances at the tournament.

“Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable,” said Hawking, 72.

Statistically, England’s red kit is more successful and we should play 4-3-3 rather than 4-4-2

Professor Stephen Hawking

“They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. The World Cup is no different.

“Paddy Power recognise that as a theoretical physicist I’m marginally more qualified to make predictions than Paul the Octopus.”

Hawking examined a huge range of variables – including temperature, altitude, shirt colour and travelling distance – to reveal the “perfect conditions” for England glory.

Included is a suggestion that manager Roy Hodgson should adopt a 4-3-3 formation and send his team out in red shirts.

The study also revealed that England perform better in temperate climates at low altitudes – and when kick-off is as close to the normal three o’clock as possible.

“Statistically, England’s red kit is more successful and we should play 4-3-3 rather than 4-4-2,” he explained.

To bring wags or not to bring wags, that is not the question

Professor Stephen Hawking

“Psychologists in Germany found red makes teams more confident and can lead them to being perceived as more aggressive and dominant.

“Likewise, 4-3-3 is more positive so the team benefits for similar psychological reasons.”

However, Hawking added that contrary to tabloid opinion, the presence of players’ wives and girlfriends at tournaments is irrelevant.

“To bring wags or not to bring wags, that is not the question,” he said. “This will have no bearing on England bringing home the bacon.”

The data also shows that the Three Lions must also hope for referees from countries close to home. “European referees are more sympathetic to the English game and less sympathetic to ballerinas like Luis Suarez,” he explained.

Penalty precision

Hawking also examined at the conditions for scoring the perfect penalty, where data from the total of 204 penalties taken during all 22 World Cup final penalty shootouts was analysed.

He said: “Let’s start with the technique. Velocity is key. For this reason, get a run-up of more than three steps. Give it some welly. There is only a 58 per cent probability of scoring if your run-up is three steps or less.

“There is no evidence that it’s advantageous to be left or right-footed 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 greatest mysteries.”

Hawking also had a word of advice for England’s number one. “One last tip from me for Joe Hart. Jump from side to side and you are 18 per cent more likely to make a save.”


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