A Game Of Two Halves

By bogotapost June 17, 2014

Football, fútbol, fussball…it’s an international language… Except in the States, where they call it soccer. Oh, and Italy, they say calcio.  The ex-manager of England, Fabio Capello, once claimed 100 words were all he needed to communicate with his players. As World Cup fever strikes, Oliver Pritchard takes a look at some football specific vocabulary

Beginner Level:

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Intermediate Level:

Verbs for football:

To foul
To break the rules.  Often used in the passive, for example: James was fouled.  Synonyms: to bring/hack down (to kick a player to the floor); to handle (an outfield player using his hands).

To be booked / to be carded / to get your name in the book
When a player is given a yellow card by the referee.  Almost always in the passive.  A red card means the player is sent off/given an early bath.

To be offside
In an incorrect position (when an attacking player is closer to the opposing team’s goal-line at the moment the ball is passed to him or her than the last defender apart from the goalkeeper).  Players are either a mile offside or only a hair’s width offside. To win / to triumphTo score more goals than the other team, for example Colombia won 5-0 in Buenos Aires in 1993. Note: NOT gain. The preposition for win is against: Colombia won against Chile in Santiago in 2013.

To defeat (object)
To win against (object). For example Brasil defeated Croatia 3-1.

To knock out / eliminate
To defeat a team after the group stage. For example, Cameroon knocked out Colombia in 1990.

To lose
To score fewer goals than the other team, for example Colombia lost 2-0 (against England in 1998).

To draw/to tie
A match that has no winner or loser. Colombia drew 3-3 with Chile in Barranquilla.

To score (a goal)
To put the ball in the net. Lots and lots of synonyms for players scoring: put it away/stick it in the back of the net/put it in the onion bag/tuck it into the net.

To concede
When the other team scores. David Ospina does not concede many goals.

To kick
To hit something, or somebody, with your foot. In football, the players kick the ball.

To shoot / to strike / to fire a shot / to lamp it / to twat it one
To kick the ball at the goal.

To pass
A kick of the ball from one player to another. Barcelona pass the ball a lot.

A cross
A pass from the side of the pitch into the penalty box.

A header
When a player hits the ball with his head. Yepes heads the ball well.

To volley
To kick the ball before it touches the ground. Falcao missed a volley against Venezuela.


Advanced Level:

Adjectives for players

Young players who are very good are wonderkids and older players are journeymen or grizzled.  Fast players have a lot of pace or are pacey or have pace to burn.  Skilful players who are tall have good feet for a big man.  The term cap refers to the number of times a player has represented their country at an international level. It originated in the UK where they used to award an actual cap to players in international matches.

Anyone from a small club playing very well at the WC is putting himself in the shop window for bigger teams.  Anyone who doesn’t like to tackle or work hard (Hi CR7!) is a show pony.  If a player dives and pretends he was fouled, he went down like a sack of potatoes and is a diver.  No one likes to see that, so you should shout “you fell over” at him.

The referee volunteers his time so that the game can function.  He is rewarded for this by being called blind, the bastard in the black and many other cheery insults not suitable for a family publication.

Goalkeepers are normally eccentric and if they make lots of mistakes, dodgy.  These mistakes are called howlers if they lead to an opportunity.

Defenders are usually tough, and often good in the air.  Defenders that take a long time to turn have the turning circle of a battleship.  Defenders that foul a lot like to let the opponent know he’s there.  If defenders stop a forward playing well they have him in their pocket. Under pressure, defenders will always kick it into row Z, ie off the pitch.  When they try to pass direct to the attackers it is long ball football or route one and they are hoofing it.

Well-organised midfielder are midfield generals and if they have a lot of energy; box-to-box players or midfield dynamos.  These players often make a nuisance of themselves or get stuck in by making many challenges.  Players like James are playmakers or dictate play.

Wingers and forwards are usually tricky if they are small, or a real handful if they’re big.  Wingers often have to beat their man and put it in the mixer.  They often have sweet left feet if they’re skilful and a foot like a traction engine if they’re powerful.  After scoring, they’ll usually be over the moon.  Scoring from close range is a tap in and from long range a screamer, thunderbastard, pearler or howitzer.

And remember – it’s a game of two halves, an expression referring to the fact that a football match can change unexpectedly over 90 minutes, and especially between the first half and second half of the match.  And anything can happen…as Sir Purple Nose Ferguson once said “football – bloody hell.”

By Oli Pritchard