There has been a quiet revolution taking place in football in recent years that even the most dedicated fan may not be aware of.

Decades after sports like baseball first embraced performance analysis, football is now catching up on the science of statistics and data.

From a player's fitness to their in-game attributes, numbers now play a huge part in the modern game, informing team selections, tactics and recruitment strategies across the leagues.

On a recent visit to UCFB Etihad Campus, Tony Strudwick, Head of Performance Analysis at The Football Association of Wales, told students: “The landscape of sport has changed dramatically from when I arrived in the industry in 1995. Sports science was in its infancy and was probably more of an academic pursuit. When you look at the growth of the industry now in terms of inter-departmentalisation, there’s a growth of performance analysis, it’s more intelligent, more informed, there’s more data.”

One of the leading lights in football analysis, Strudwick was also appointed Sheffield Wednesday’s Head of Sports Science & Medicine at the beginning of the 2019/20 season.

Addressing students as part of the UCFB Executive Guest Speaker Series, Strudwick explained: “The coaching process has changed dramatically – there’s more thinking about it and there’s more to putting on a session. And the growth of sports science has been exponential – how we get an athlete to not only perform but also to improve beyond the limits that we previously thought.

After honing his skills as an Exercise Scientist at Coventry City and then The Football Association, Strudwick went on to work at West Ham and Blackburn Rovers before linking up with Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United where he spent over 10 years.

Strudwick, who now works under his former United colleague Ryan Giggs at Wales, went on to explain: “The game is continuously changing. We know from research that the game is getting quicker, athletes are running faster and they are continuously evolving, so the landscape has changed dramatically in the last 25 years and I still expect that to change in the next 25 years.

“That’s why this continued learning journey is very important, because you’ve got to future proof your employability; where’s the game going to be in the next five, 10, 15 years? And what are the skills required to be successful in that industry?”

“UCFB masters programmes are an excellent bridge between the industry and academia and that’s very important because the modern student and the modern practitioner are looking for increased employability skills. UCFB really does provide that links between academia and the industry.”