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17th Nov 2016

If not for Football Manager, who knows where Roberto Firmino would have ended up

These stats caught the eye of a scout

Ben Kenyon

Behold the power of Football Manager.

When we were growing up it was just a piss-about to distract you from your studying or room-tidying…albeit a very addictive and all-consuming piss-about.

We spent hours poring over the flickering computer screen trying to sign Cherno Samba, Ibrahima Bakayako and Freddy Adu for Accrington Stanley.

But now the game has grown into a behemoth with a network of real-life scouts that is the envy of every big club in the world.

Football clubs are now using this video game to scout real life players after a deal between FM creators Sports Interactive and sports performance analyst Prozone .

Clubs can trawl the game for hidden gems using detailed data on performance, contract and biographical stats, according to the Guardian.

If you want some proof of just how powerful a tool this management sim game is, just ask Hoffenheim’s scouting department.

They found a guy on there a couple of years ago by the name of  Roberto Firmino.

Now the £30m Samba star is tearing defences apart for Liverpool in Jurgen Klopp’s terrifying attacking triumvirate.

The bang-in-form attacker is even keeping Daniel Sturridge out of the team this term and his goals and assists have fired the Reds to the summit of the Premier League.

But back then his name wasn’t on anyone’s radar. But his stats on the game were convincing enough for the Bundesliga club to pay £3.5m to sign him from Brazilian side Figueirense…a fair amount of money for a bloke you’ve only seen on a computer game.

Hoffenheim director of football Lutz Pfannenstiel has revealed that he tracked down the teenage Firmino on the game.

Pfannenstiel told TalkSport’s Paul Hawksebee that playing the game led directly to signing the unknown youngster.

Hawksebee said: ‘Lutz, you were saying with Firmino, you and a colleague found him [on Football Manager], did all the work on it and he went to Hoffenheim for £3.5m quid?’

‘Yeah, ‘£3.5m roughly,’ he replied. ‘If you’re getting a guy from the second league in Brazil, only 17 – 18-years-old.

‘Straight away people think he needs to play in the first team directly. So people were saying you’ve paid that amount for a player who hasn’t made it yet.

‘In the end we sold him for €42m plus [future] payments, so in the end I think we did it right.

‘I think it’s good scouting, definitely.’

So next time your ma tells you to stop pissing about on a football game, show her this.

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