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Here's what the man with an Xbox controller at St James' Park was actually doing

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(Picture: ChyronHego)

On Saturday afternoon, an image was shared on Twitter which showed a man holding what appeared to be an Xbox controller at the game between Newcastle United and Arsenal.

No one seemed to quite know what he was doing... As the Independent's sports desk wrote in their coverage of the game: "Was he wanting to experience the most realistic looking game of Fifa ever played? Was he controlling the big screen at St James' Park? Had he just lost the plot?"

The man hadn't lost the plot, but was in fact using the Xbox controller to track possession statistics for data analytics company ChyronHego.

Speaking to i100.co.uk, David Eccles, the head of player tracking for the firm, explained that they use the controller in conjunction with six high definition cameras and three staff members at each game, to provide incredibly detailed analysis to Opta and each of the Premier League's 20 clubs.

We collect performance data on all the players and referees, data such as distance of every player, the speeds of all the players including when working at high-intensity and so forth. We also collect possession; which is actually what the Xbox controller is for. We know where every single player is on the field 25-times every second.

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Picture: ChyronHego

ChyronHego provide player tracking data for and on behalf of the Premier League, we are data-parters of Opta and between us we provide all the physical performance and technical data you currently see on TV, in newspapers, on radio etc.

Our data is everywhere. People just don't know it's us...

  • David Eccles, ChyronHego

The company will collect data in this way from all 380 Premier League games this season and is also working with the Bundesliga in Germany and the Primera Division in Spain among others.

Ed Syers, the analyst pictured at St James' Park, explained to i100.co.uk that he hadn't quite realised that his picture was going viral until after the game.

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It was a bit of a shock when my friend was checking Twitter and my picture popped up! Before long my phone was going crazy with notifications, but I was concentrating too much on the match to really understand what had happened.

Richard Mason, who took the picture, actually apologised to me at half-time. I don't think even he realised it would go viral.

  • Ed Syers, ChyronHego

Syers, who's in his first season in the job, said he does "feel a bit strange to be sat in a press box with an Xbox controller" and even hid it under the desk for the second-half.

It happens at every Premier League match and it's pretty important stuff, so I'd like to think I don't get too many weird looks. Although it would look a bit strange to the people who have no idea what I'm doing! It's actually great fun, and how many people can say they watch Premier League football for a job?

  • Ed Syers, ChyronHego

Eccles hopes the company's work can help to enrich the way everyone watches the beautiful game and the exposure of Saturday's picture might even get more people interested in their analytics through their real-time statistics portal called Web Monitor.

Our vision is with Opta to completely revolutionise football as we know it; by giving clubs more performance data than ever before, by giving the media more ways to tell a story and by including the fans by giving them access to real-time statistics, to make better assumptions during live match play.

  • David Eccles, ChyronHego

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