We’ve all heard stories about how some football clubs use the game Football Manager to scout players.
The addictive computer game is so in depth in terms of its scouting, that it can usually identify youngsters that have world-class potential.
Ok, occasionally they don’t quite get it right with the likes of Cherno Samba and Tonton Zola Moukoko never quite reaching the heights that Football Manager had predicted.
However, there are plenty of times where the game has got it spot on. One of those instances has emerged involving Roberto Firmino.
The Brazilian signed for Liverpool last summer for a massive £29 million, and is starting to prove that he is worth every penny with him leading the line as Jurgen Klopp’s side sit top of the league.
He wasn’t exactly an unknown quantity when Brendan Rodgers purchased him in 2015 from Hoffenheim. Firmino had played four-and-a-half seasons in the Bundesliga and impressed, scoring 49 goals during that spell.
But when Hoffenheim signed him in January 2011 from Brazilian side Figueirense for £3.5 million, hardly anyone had heard of him.
So, how did Hoffenheim find a teenager playing in the second division of Brazil? By playing Football Manager, of course.
One of Hoffenheim’s scouts Lutz Pfannenstiel was talking on talkSPORT with presenter Paul Hawksebee and explained how he came across a future star.
"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?” Hawksebee asked, per Daily Mail.
While Pfannenstiel admitted that he feared that they may have initially overspent on him, he’s delighted with the profit they made on Firmino.
"Yeah, £3.5m roughly," he replied to Hawksebee.
"If you're getting a guy from the second league in Brazil, only 17 or 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.”
Right now, Liverpool will be delighted that Firmino was unearthed with him currently playing a key role in Klopp’s side this season. The 25-year-old has made the striker’s role his own and has already scored five goals in 10 league appearances this season.
When he first arrived on Merseyside, though, Firmino didn’t set the league alight. However, after the arrival of Klopp, he improved dramatically and the German manager admitted his surprise when the Reds signed him in the first place.
“I knew about Roberto. When I heard that Liverpool had signed him I thought: ‘how have they done this?’ he admitted.
“Now with Roberto you can see the confidence in his work.”
So, Liverpool have Football Manager to thank for discovering one of their star players that could fire them to their first league title since 1990. Incredible stuff.