The Missing Children: A Systematic Scoping Review on Talent Identification and Selection in Football (Soccer)

Christian Meedom Wrang*, Niels Nygaard Rossing, Sine Agergaard, Luc Martin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Talent identification and development systems represent a range of activities involving the detection, identification and selection of children as talents in sport. The process of identifying talents within football has been extensively researched, and several literature reviews have aimed to streamline talent systems and predict athletes’ capability. This review investigates the nature and extent of research to critically assess talent identification literature within football. Following guidelines for scoping reviews, a systematic search identified 2,443 studies, of which 73 were included in the analysis. Our review shows that the current literature; (a) seldom defines the identification process, but tends to focus on selection of talents, leaving out de-selection processes, (b) makes use of predominantly quantitative assessments including both cross-sectional and longitudinal approaches, and (c) represents coaches’ rather than athletes’ perspectives of the process. Thus, our review highlights that our understanding of talent identification remains limited, despite the extensive body of literature available. There is a shortcoming of research involving qualitative methods and a lack of literature emphasising child/youth perspectives. Such studies could supplement our current knowledge through providing insight into children’s experiences of identification and selection (as well as de-selection), and how these processes influence their motivation and interest in sport.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal for Sport and Society
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Apr 2021


  • Children’s sport
  • literature review
  • association football
  • sport participation
  • scouting


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