Youngster combines love of football and physics to land place at Harvard

An Auckland student who has combined his passions for football and physics has landed a place at Harvard, one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

David McGregor Grey (18), who plays in midfield or up front for Manurewa AFC’s U-23 side, will move to the United States in August to undertake a four-year degree in physics at the Massachusetts-based university that has produced 50 Nobel Prize winners.

Main photo: Manurewa’s David Grey … combines his passions for physics and football.

While he plans to take classes in quantum, particle and nuclear physics, his interest in science has already helped him understand more about football.

In 2023, he studied 1,000 goals scored in an English Premier League season to learn the art of the curl shot, and published his findings in a two-part research paper.

His work on the curl shot was published on the Friends of Football website.

The curl shot (part 1): New research reveals top goalscoring technique >>>>

The curl shot (part 2): The physics behind the moment of footballing magic >>>>

Grey was selected for Harvard’s ‘Class of 2028’ from more than 50,000 applicants, only 3.6% of whom were accepted; of those who applied, 27 of every 28 were turned away.

“When I opened my Harvard admission letter, it was an incredible feeling,” he says.

“It’s still sinking in. I’m buzzing to get started on this next chapter.”

In addition to Harvard, Grey was offered places at 10 top-tier US colleges, including Duke, UCLA, Pomona, Bowdoin, UC San Diego, University of Washington, University of Michigan, and the University of Miami.

“Harvard is Harvard. You can’t beat it. Its physics programme is world-best, and I can’t wait to delve into particle and quantum physics and other subjects such as linguistics and classics.”

Raised on a small farm in Franklin, Grey studied the rigorous Cambridge International curriculum at ACG Strathallan College in Karaka. He was the 2023 Dux Top Scholar.

Away from his studies, Grey applies himself to football, as a player and as a coach.

He was named MVP (Most Valuable Player) at the 2023 New Zealand Secondary Schools Trident Football Tournament and helped lead his school’s first XI to tournament victory.

Grey helps young footballers in his role as a coach for Ricki Herbert’s RH3 Football Academy.

He helps run 18 Yard Club, a non-profit business teaching football goal-scoring skills to youth players in South Auckland.

Looking ahead, Grey dreams of applying physics to tame hydrogen fusion for universal clean energy.

“Growing up in rural New Zealand, I feel a strong connection to the land and a determination to help protect it. That’s why the potential for plasma physics innovation thrills me.”

More football stories