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Junior to senior transition pathway in Italian Football: The rocky road to the top is not determined by youth national team's selections

Boccia, Gennaro; Brustio, Paolo Riccardo; Rinaldi, Rocco; Romagnoli, Ruggero; Cardinale, Marco; Piacentini, Maria Francesca; (2023) Junior to senior transition pathway in Italian Football: The rocky road to the top is not determined by youth national team's selections. PLOS ONE , 18 (7) , Article e0288594. 10.1371/journal.pone.0288594. Green open access

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Abstract

Football is a popular sport, but little is known about the youth-to-senior transition rates in elite players, particularly in large and successful countries. This study aims to investigate the youth-to-senior transition rate in the Italian national football team, both prospectively and retrospectively, and to explore if Relative Age Effects (RAEs) affect this transition. Data from 885 players selected in youth and senior Italian national teams between 2000 and 2021 were included in the study. For each player, the birthdate and the number of selection in Under 16, 17, 19, 21 and senior team was considered. The transition rate was determined by the number of youth players competing in the Senior National team (and vice versa), whilst birth quarter (Q) distributions with a chi-square goodness-of-fit test. Prospectively, the transition rate increased as age increased (i.e., from ~20% in U16 to ~50% in U19). Retrospectively, less than 10–20% of youth players were subsequently selected for the senior team. Data revealed a skewed birth date distribution in all age groups, and the RAEs magnitude decreased when age increased (i.e., ORs for Q1 vs Q4 was ~ 9 in U16 and ~ 1.7 in senior teams). Nevertheless, the RAE magnitude was smaller for successfully transitioned players. In conclusion, most players in the senior team were not previously selected for youth teams suggesting that junior international experience may not be a prerequisite for later success. Moreover, while the birthdate strongly influences the selection of youth national teams, its impact is less evident in the youth-to-senior transition.

Type: Article
Title: Junior to senior transition pathway in Italian Football: The rocky road to the top is not determined by youth national team's selections
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0288594
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0288594
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third-party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Science & Technology, Multidisciplinary Sciences, Science & Technology - Other Topics, RELATIVE AGE, TALENT IDENTIFICATION, PROGRESSION, SUCCESS, SOCCER, ELITE
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci > Department of Targeted Intervention
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10182236
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