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English Language Lesson:  How to talk about football

by Mike Davies, Lead English Language Course Trainer for Unique Languages

 

We have talked on other pages about how British footballers have managed to grasp foreign languages, but how about football players and football fans from overseas who play or support teams in the UK?  Unique has taught English to a few footballers and they all were very diligent learners, but they needed to familiarise themselves with football terminology, just as fans should because nowadays football fans are just as likely to come from overseas as they are to come from the neighbourhood, so here we present our guide to How to talk about Football in English.

 

EARLY DOORS

"It is still early doors but I am hoping for a couple of away wins."

 

This is a great idiom as it is not exclusively for use when talking about football as it has become part of the wider lexicon.  It simply means "very early" and was used frequently by a football commentator called Ron Atkinson.  As mentioned, it can also be used in non-football terms:  "He was hoping to catch the boss early doors, but he left at 3pm."

 

It is widely accepted that the phrase comes from the world of theatre where over a hundred years ago, people were allowed in to a play and could sit where they wished - so if you arrived at the early door opening, you would be able to get a better seat and therefore a better advantage.  

 

MISSED A SITTER/MY GRANNY COULD HAVE SCORED THAT

"Torres just missed an absolute sitter."

 

Not used quite so often with Torres now, but this indicates that a very easy goal was available yet the unlucky player managed to put the ball anywhere but the goal.  You might also hear "My Granny could have scored that" in similar circumstances.

 

ROUTE ONE/UP AND AT 'EM

"His teams only ever play Route One football."

 

Whilst we all enjoy watching football which is played majestically with beautifully intricate passing, the skills levels of some teams means that this is not an option.  The alternative is Route One football, which means lots of long passes towards the forwards in the hope that a big striker can get the ball before one of the opposition defenders.

 

NUTMEG

"He easily nutmegged the opposition Defender."

 

This is when one player kicks the ball between the legs of the opposition player.  It is know as "caño" "túnel" or "ordeñar" in Latin America and the French call it "petit pont".  Whatever it is called, it is always embarassing for the opposition player!

 

POTENTIAL BANANA SKIN

"They might be bottom of the league, but they are still a potential banana skin."

 

A manager uses the cliched phrase "potential banana skin" when his team is about to play a seemingly inferior team that could potentially beat his team.  If it does happen, the hapless Manager is likely to say that his team were "turned over" by the other team.  

 

SQUARE PEGS IN ROUND HOLES

"You cannot keep putting square pegs in round holes and expect to get away with it."

 

We know that anything square can never fit into anything that is round, and the same usually applies to football players.  A midfielder might occasionally be deployed in attack or defence, for example and as it is not part of his usual job then he is likely to make errors.  This phrase would most likely be used by an international manager who is short on quality players.  

 

 

If you would like to learn English with Unique Languages Training, contact us on 020 3566 0145, fill in the form on this page or e-mail us and we will do the rest.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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