COULD Michael Müller-Möhring have the hardest job in football?
'Triple M', as he is affectionally nicknamed by the FIFA video game community, is responsible for playing ratings for the series, including FIFA 22 which is released today.
The 54-year-old holds the prestige position of Head of Data Collection and Licensing at EA Sports, working from their stunning Cologne office.
It's his task, that can come with incredible difficulty, in ensuring players are given their attributes in the game and appear as lifelike as possible.
Armed with a team of producers/scouts across Europe who monitor players' performance from the Premier League to the Ukraine's top flight, the self-confessed football geek claims to study the game fairly.
"Each footballer is made up of 35 attributes. This then becomes the skill level that we rate on a 1-99 scale," he told Stadtgefluester.
"Closing strength, long shots, defending, heading, free kicks, etc."
Helping Müller-Möhring with his role are 15-plus producers across Europe.
Explaining why he has a team all over the world, he said: "This is because professionals in each country need to know the history of football, understand philosophy, and anticipate developments.
"But above all, they know all the players from the bottom up.
"We are talking about 18,000 footballers who are being watched – they have to meet the requirements of the database fairly."
Müller-Möhring promises that every player in the game should feel and behave exactly like the real player.
"Even to as far to how their hair is styled and how they celebrate scoring a goal.
He continued: "All optical features have to be right, which concerns the player.
"But that only represents one aspect of our work. The other, larger factor, is the player himself.
"For example, that the football star behaves and moves as much as possible in real life.
'It's about characteristics. How does a player cheer for a goal? What hairstyle does he have?
"Is he wearing his jersey in his shorts or not? These are just a few details about the player to watch out for."
Before working on FIFA, Müller-Möhring wrote football books, primarily about his beloved team SC Fortuna Köln.
His most famous book was called Tausend Tipps fuer Auswaertsspiele, which translates to Thousand Tips for Away Matches.
And he confessed that's how he scored his dream job working on the cult video game.
"As a supporter of Fortuna Köln, I always came to away games too late because there were no navigation devices at the time," he said.
"Four times I missed the kick-off in Solingen, where it is actually not that difficult to find the stadium.
"That's when I came up with the idea that there should be a guide for football fans.
"There were four issues for a small publisher. By writing and researching the books, I finally slipped into this job."
Müller-Möhring and his team have been in for criticism of some of the ratings featured in the game.
Jesse Lingard hilariously tweeted EA Sports to up his pace in the game.
And stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Kevin De Bruyne featured in an official advert for the title asking for higher skill ratings.
Even Liverpool fans took particular were left miffed when ratings of new signings Virgil Van Dijk and goalie Alisson were lower than the stats of Man City's Nicolas Otamendi and Ederson in a previous incarnation of the game.
And in this year's version of the game, Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has got the needle with his pace stats.
He wrote in a recent tweet: "Come on, EA Sports FIFA… 35.8 km/h top speed on the field and only 75 speed in FIFA 22?! What do I need to get speed rating of 90? 50 km/h?"
EA Sports saw the funny side and responded to the German international: "Beat Christian Pulisic in a race and we talk".
As 'Triple M' explains, he knows there will always be complaints from the pros.
"We try to make it as objective as possible. But of course we know very well that players will complain," he told Bild last year.
"Only once have I met someone who said, 'I am satisfied with my values.' The important thing is: we don't want to hurt anyone. But if players come and want specific things changed, then we don't react – unless it's really grossly wrong."
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