Konstantinos Tsimikas might have a name that is a nightmare to spell but that certainly didn’t stop people from giving it a go this weekend.
Tsimikas made just one notable contribution during the FA Cup final – admittedly an important one in scoring the winning penalty in the shootout. That one act was enough to ensure that people suddenly searched for him, hunted out more about him in a way they didn’t for any other Premier League footballer this past weekend.
By using Google Trends, and ensuring data is normalised by including Tsimikas in every comparison, it is possible to see how interest ebbed and flowed for footballers across the weekend. Or surged and receded as might be more appropriate phrasing for some.
During the FA Cup final, right up until the end of injury-time, nobody was searching for Tsimikas. OK, maybe not precisely nobody, but as close as our data allows us to get – Google Trends returning a big fat zero for him every hour through Saturday up until the hour from 1900 GMT.
It then jumps. Not a gradual jump, but straight up to 100 – the peak number recorded, with Trends working by giving a top value of 100 to whatever was the highest level of search in your comparison, and then recording everything else relative to this.
From the hour of 1900GMT until 2000 GMT, searches for Tsimikas were more common than searches were for any other player at any other stage across the weekend in the UK.
To put the level of interest into context, let’s compare with some other players who were prominent. Mo Salah limped off injured – he peaked at 75, Alisson Becker saved Mason Mount’s penalty to put Liverpool on the brink – he registered a peak of 77.
Mount, meanwhile, peaked at 33 – this not even as high as Ross Barkley who came on to take a penalty in a losing effort. He registered 35. Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku peaked at 30, Liverpool counterpart Luis Diaz at 40 and then you have a whole load of players who were in the 15 to 30 region. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp peaked at 67, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel just 13.
Of course interest in Tsimikas surged because he was an unexpected match winner – if it is fair to call someone who slots the winning pen home a match winner, it seems a generous label.
Jarrod Bowen performed arguably greater heroics on Sunday, scoring both West Ham goals as they drew with Man City, yet he peaked only at 21. Jack Grealish who started Man City’s comeback registered 13.
Elsewhere, Jarrad Branthwaite’s red card for Everton saw him jump to a relative search figure of 11, while Pascal Struijk’s late, late equaliser for Leeds against Brighton didn’t prompt people to pump his name into the search engines. His peak was four.
Jamie Vardy scored twice for Leicester but he only got up to nine, this well down from the 20 he peaked out at during the week as interest in him bubbled away for reasons beyond the scope of this article.
What the data shows us is that search is not always about popularity, it is instead about a need to know. Who is this guy who just scored the winning penalty? If Jordan Henderson had taken the winning penalty would he have received a similar spike in searches – obviously we will never know for sure, but it is tempting to say ‘no’.
The Liverpool captain is well known, most football fans won’t have a burning desire to find out more about him in the same way they might about a reserve left-back who has just delivered silverware. What need would searching for Henderson be filling for most people?
Globally we might expect the same pattern and – thankfully for those for whom 600 words of data analysis is more than enough – that is pretty much the case. The figures vary, but the overall pattern remains.
There is, though one notable change.
Tsimikas no longer sees the biggest spike in search, that instead goes to Salah. He didn’t score, he wasn’t even on the pitch when the penalties were taken, so why the interest?
Follow-up searches answer that, ‘Salah injury update’ a common global search late into Saturday, especially in African nations including Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria and, of course, Egypt. TV coverage may also have fed into this, other nations perhaps focusing more analysis time on Salah’s injury than Tsimikas’ penalty – search will always have a large element of being driven by the narrative presented by broadcasters.
The peak for Salah was close to double that for Tsimikas globally – 100 to 57.
What, though, of the long term. Does this interest linger?
What do you think – are you still searching for Tsimikas this morning?
A couple of hours post match, interest in him had dropped off by 90%. As of Monday morning, he is receiving one sixth the interest that is going Vardy’s way.
Things are very much back to normal.