England Football Online
Contact Us Page Last Updated 6 May 2017

of Football Terms and Phrases


This glossary is intended to offer a working vocabulary for those not thoroughly familiar with either the language of football in general or of English football in particular.  This list of terms and phrases is by no means complete.  From time to time, as we have the time, we will add to the list and fill in the definitions.   We are not experts on the origins or history of football or its language.  But we have followed the game long enough to become fairly familiar with football usage.  Terms and phrases appearing in red in the definitions are themselves defined in this glossary.    Some are linked  to fuller explanations appearing elsewhere on this website.   We welcome contributions, corrections, additions and suggestions.

1/8 final - The designation given to knockout matches in the quarterfinals of tournament play, particularly in Continental Europe and Latin America, since eight teams remain in contention at that stage of the competition.  The teams emerging successfully from the quarterfinals, either by winning the match or by outscoring their opponents in a penalty kick shoot-out after play has ended in a draw, proceed to the semi-finals.

1/16 final  - The designation given knockout matches in the round of 16 teams in tournament play, particularly in Continental Europe and Latin America, since 16 teams remain in contention at that stage of the competition.  The teams emerging successfully from the round of 16 teams, either by winning the match or by outscoring their opponents in a penalty kick shootout after play has ended in a draw, proceed to the quarter-finals.

11 - The number of players on the pitch for a team when it is at full-strength.  It is often used in the U.K. as shorthand for "team," as in "the England 11 dominated throughout."

2-3-5 - Known as The Pyramid because of its triangular shape. Came into existence in the late nineteenth century and was popularly used by clubs in matches up until 1925, when the offside law was changed.

4-4-2 - The most common formation you will likely see in British football is the 4-4-2. It's made up of four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers. It is an adaptable system where you have strength in midfield and plenty of width. Having two strikers means that the front line has extra support rather than having to wait for the midfield to reach them.

4-2-4 - The 4—2—4 formation attempts to combine a strong attack with a strong defence, and was conceived as a reaction to WM's stiffness. It could also be considered a further development of the WW. The 4—2—4 was the first formation to be described using numbers.

4-3-3 - The 4—3—3 was a development of the 4—2—4, and was played by the Brazilian national team in the 1962 World Cup, although a 4—3—3 had also previously been used by the Uruguay national team in the 1950 and 1954 World Cups. The extra player in midfield allows a stronger defence, and the midfield could be staggered for different effects. The three midfielders normally play closely together to protect the defence, and move laterally across the field as a coordinated unit.

3-5-2 - This formation is similar to 5—3—2 except that the two wingmen are oriented more towards the attack. Because of this, the central midfielder tends to remain further back in order to help prevent counter-attacks. It differs from the classical 3—5—2 of the WW by having a non-staggered midfield. Terry Venables notably used this formation (along with a diamond midfield) during England's campaign at UEFA Euro 1996, with Gareth Southgate or Paul Ince acting as defensive midfielder.

XI - The Roman numeral designation for the number of players on the pitch for a team when it is at full-strength, 11.  It is often used to designate a representative team specially assembled for a commemorative occasion or a tour, as in, "An F.A. XI visited Canada long before the full senior England team did."

a.e.t. or aet  - The abbreviation for "after extra-time."

AFC - The Asian Football Confederation, founded on 8 May 1954. It governs the game throughout Asia and added Australia to its members in 2006.

A team - The No. 1 or strongest team a club or a country fields.  It is sometimes referred to as the senior team or side.

Abandonment - A match that has started that for various reasons, cannot be completed, usually through bad weather, but crowd disturbance and floodlight failure are also cited reasons.

Adidas - A German multinational corporation, headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, that designs and manufactures shoes, clothing and accessories. It is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe, and the second biggest in the world, founded by Adolf Dassler, registered on 18 August 1949.

Advance - Generally used to describe a team winning a cup tie to move on to the next round.

Advantage - Fouls are often committed during a soccer match. It is the responsibility of the referee to call out these offences and punish those players failing to adhere to the Laws of the Game. However, there are times when the referee lets the play to continue despite an obvious foul being committed. This exclusive power bestowed on the referee is expressed under the Advantage Rule.

Advantage clause - The Advantage Clause is open for interpretation. If a misconduct occurs and the referee lets the play to go on, he is supposed to show the appropriate card to the offender at the next stoppage. This rule is claimed to be subjective on occasions. It is made more interesting as the Laws do not expressly state the precise time that the referee has to allow for the anticipated advantage to be played. The referee is required to decide within a few seconds.

Aerial game - When the majority of the game is played with the ball in the air.

Aerial skills - The ability to play the ball in the air, usually with the head.

After extra-time - In knock-out competitions or competition stages, teams maybe required to play an extra 30 minutes when the deciding leg, or replay, has not produced a winner by the end of regulation time. Extra time is governed by the rules of the tournament, rather than the laws of the game. It follows a short break where players remain on or around the field of play and comprises two straight fifteen-minute periods, with teams changing ends in between.

All - The term  used in England to  denote a draw, as in  "They finished 2-all."  Why "2-both" is not used instead of "2-all" since only two tems play a match is unknown to us.

All-seater - A stadium where every spectator has a seat. Clydebank FC (1977), Aberdeen FC (1978), Coventry City FC (1981) and Luton Town AFC (1985) were the first UK clubs to convert their stadiums to all-seated. All-seater stadiums became compulsary in the FA Premier League from 1994 following the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989.

All-ticket - Tickets must be bought in advance, in other words, no tickets are available on the day of the match at the venue of the match.

Appearance[s] - The term used to denote a player's participation in a match, as in, "He made 10 appearances for Arsenal  last season," or "He made a single appearance for  England."  In international football, a player is said to earn a cap for every appearance for the national  side, whether it is starting or a substitute appearance.

Amateur - The term to describe the status of a player. If he is not payed to play, he remains an Amateur.

Argie-bargie - A term often used to describe fighting on the pitch between the players. More often than not, it is opposing sides, but this is by no means exclusive. Team-mates have often had argie-bargies too.

Artificial surface A surface of synthetic fibers made to look like natural grass. They have become a part of football folk-law in two phases. The first phase, the plastic pitch was installed by four clubs in the early 1980's, notably Queen's Park Rangers FC, Luton Town FC, Oldham Athletic FC and Preston North End FC. They were unsuccessful experiments and were subsequently ripped up during the 1990's, being banned by the Football League in 1995. The second phase introduced the 3G pitches in 2012 and are allowed by lower league clubs in England from 2015, prominently, Sutton United FC, and are allowed in the FA Cup competition, as well as UEFA competitions.

Artistry - The skill and flare of some players can be described as an artistry.

Association football - The definition of the game to distinguish it from, at first, the rugby code, and latterly, the American, Australian and Gaelic forms of the game.

At the end of the day - A phrase which has recently become indispensable to conversation about football in England, particularly when addressing something unpleasant to contemplate.  It apparently means something similar to "after all is said and done," as in, "At the end of the day, they were better than we were" or, "At the end of the day, we just can't make those kinds of mistakes without paying a price."  It rivals "massive" as the most overused term or phrase in English football today.

Assist - A term common in basketball and especially ice hockey and denoting the credit given to one who contributes directly to a score by another as by furnishing  the ball to  the player who scores the goal.   The assist concept is slowly creeping into football, although it is meeting strong opposition from traditionalists.  It is strange that football, as much a team sport as either ice hockey or basketball, has no formal method of noting the contribution to a goal of players other than the scorer himself, for often a goal is far more the product of the playmaker than the scorer, who may, for example, merely tap the ball into an empty net after it has been served to him on a silver platter through a brilliant piece of play from another.   Opposition in England to credit for assists is no doubt premised largely on dislike for anything smacking of American sports, including  their love of statistics.

Attack -

Attendance -

Awareness -

Away -

Away goals rule -

Azzurri -


B team -

Back door -

Back heel -

Back line -

Bafana Bafana -

Ball -

Ball control -

Ball distribution -

Ball-holding -

Ball skills -

Ball-wasting -

Ball-watching -

Ball winner -

Balloon ball or shot -

Banana kick -

Barrister -

Bash -

Belt -

Between-the-legs tackle -

Bicycle kick -

Blast -

Blind side -

Block -

Block tackle -

Bobble -

Body swerve -

Booking -

Boots -

Bouncing -

Brave - A popular description among English football journalists for a favoured team that has lost an important match.  Its use is almost always required if the winning team is foreign and the losing team is English, in which case it is rejected out of hand only if the losing team displayed abject cowardice on the pitch.  It is often accompanied by "little," as in "brave little Ipswich went down to Real Madrid last night, 6-0," although "brave" is used without "little" if the losing team is England's national side or Manchester United, which, we suppose, is a massive club even to journalists.

Bribe -

British Championship -

British Sports Writers' Association -

Bukta -

Bundesliga -

Bung -

By-line -




Calcio - The name given the game of football in Italy.

Capacity -

Caps -

Captain -

Career -

Carry -

Catenaccio -

Caution -

Central defender -

Centre -

Centre back -

Centre circle

Centre-half[back] -

Centre spot -

Change of pace -

Charge -

Cheating -

Chest -

Chest save -

Chip -

Circle -

Clean sheet -

Clearance -

Clockwork Orange -

Close down -

Club -

Club side or team -

Coach -

Coaching staff -

Coin toss -

Combination -

Comfortable on the ball -

Commemorative match -

Competition -

Competition rules or regulations -

Competitive matches - A term of comparatively recent origin designating matches which are part of a tournament or stand-alone matches which are played for a cup or other award or prize.  It is sometimes used to refer only to matches which are part of one of the major tournaments--the World Cup, the Confederations Cup and the various confederation  championships, such as the European Championship and the Copa Amrica.  The term is often used in a pejorative manner to denigrate friendly matches--unfairly since even friendly matches are competitive in the sense that both teams are trying to win (or supposed to be trying to win under FIFA's fair play rule).

Conditioning -

Confederations -

Confederations Cup -

Consolation match -

Continental -

Continental European -

Control -

Copa Amrica -

Corner arc -

Corner flag -

Corner kick -

Cover -

Cramp -

Craque -

Creativity -

Cross -

Crossbar -

Cross-pitch or cross-field -

Crowd -

Crowd barriers -

Cruciate ligament injury -

Crush barriers -

Cup competition -

Cup-tie -

Curled ball -

Curved ball -

Dangerous ball -

Danger zone -

Danubian style -

Dead ball -

Dead kick -

Dead leg -

Deep -

Deep-lying -

Defence -

Defend -

Defender -

Deep -

Deep-lying -

Derby -

Direct free kick -

Disallow -

Discipline -

Dissent -

Distribute -

Dive -

Divisions -

Double -

Draw - The result when two teams score the same number of goals in a match.  This result is sometimes called a tie.

Draw - The allegedly random process by which teams are selected to play each other in a round of a cup competition or to play in a group in the initial stage of a tournament.  FIFA has turned its World Cup draws--held both before the preliminary or qualifying stage of the tournament and, after qualification has finished, before the final tournament--into huge events, replete with entertainment celebrities, famous footballers and stage shows, televised around the world.  Because a team's fate often depends upon which group it is drawn into--on which hinges which opponents it must play--a  huge audience tunes in.  FIFA's current president, Joseph S. Blatter, achieved worldwide fame when, as plain old Sepp Blatter before his promotion to the top spot, he presided over televised World Cup draws, particularly after American comedian Robin Williams insisted on calling him "Mr. Bladder" at the draw for the 1994  tournament in Las Vegas.  While not quite as extravagant, UEFA's European Championship draws are televised throughout Europe.   Football  Association  Challenge Cup, more commonly known  as  F.A. Cup, draws are also widely-watched  televised events in England, with well-known football personalities usually making  the  draws  that  pair  the teams  for the next  round in the competition. 

Draw lots -

Dribble - The feints, twists, turns, tricks and general ball artistry by which the player in possession of the ball attempts to deceive, outwit or simply outmanoeuvre a defending player to get past or away from him.

Dribbling game -

Drop back -

Drop ball -

Dubbin -

Dummy  - See  "Selling the dummy."

Eighth-final - See "1/8 final"

Eire -

Elimination -

Equaliser -

Europa league -

European Champions League -

European Champion Clubs' Cup -

European Cup Winners' Cup -

European Football Championship -

European Super Cup -

Exhibition matches - See "Friendly matches".

Expulsion -

Extra-time - the additional playing time, consisting of 30 minutes in first class football, which is added on to a tournament or cup elimination or knockout match when the teams are level or drawn after regulation time has ended.  It is the equivalent of overtime in ice hockey playoff matches, although football purists bristle when they hear extra-time called overtime, as it is sometimes in North America.

F.A. - Shortened form of "Football Association"

F.A. Cup - The oldest cup competition in the world, played annually since 1872.

FC -


Fair play rule -

Fairs Cup -

Fans -

Far corner -

Far post -

Far side -

Fast -

Fast surface -

Field of play -

Final -

Final match -

Final tournament -

Finals -

Finishing -

First Division -

First half -

First-time -

First touch -

Fit -

Fixture - A match which has been arranged to take place between two designated teams at a definite place and time.

Fixture list - A list of fixtures, of matches to be played; a schedule of future matches.

Flick -

Flighted ball -

Floodlights -

Flexibility -

Fluke - The term applied by the English media to describe any goal scored by foreign team against an English team by way of skill not possessed by English players.

Flying kick

Folha seca - Falling leaf.  The Portuguese phrased used in Brazil to refer to the swerving free kick invented by the wonderful Didi to circumvent the defensive wall.  It was so named because of its unpredictable curving quality, much like the eddies of a falling leaf.

Football Association - The governing body that oversee's the game of football in England, from grass roots level, up to the national team.

Football Association Challenge Cup - See "FA Cup"

Football club -

Football League -

Football League Cup -

Football Writers' Association -

Footballer -

Footballer of the Year -

Footwork -

Foreign -

Foreign players -

Form -

Formation -

Forward -

Forward line -

Foul -

Foul throw -

FourFourTwo -

Fourth division -

Fourth official -

Free kick -

Friendly matches - Stand-alone matches which are not part of a tournament or a contest for a cup or other award or prize and which are played for the sake of the match alone.  They are sometimes referred to as "exhibition" matches by those who do not consider them competitive in the strictest sense of the term, regrettable usage since all matches are competitive in the sense that both teams are trying to win (or supposed to be trying to win under FIFA's fair play rule) and thus not merely putting on an exhibition.  "Friendly matches" is often used loosely--and incorrectly--to include all matches not part of one of the major tournaments--the World Cup, the Confederations Cup and the various confederation championships, such as the European Championship, formerly known as the European Nations Cup, and the Copa Amrica, formerly known as the South American Championship.  Thus it is sometimes used to include matches that are part of minor tournaments and matches regularly played for minor cups or awards.  On this website, we have tried to use the term in its proper sense as a reference to stand-alone matches played merely for the sake of the match itself, and we have separately categorised matches that were part of a minor tournament and matches regularly contested for a cup or other award or prize.

Front block tackle -

Frozen pitch -

Full international -

Full side -

Full team -

Fullback - The name of a position occupied by players who constitute or are part of the team's last line of defence.  They play all the way back--fully back--and, hence they are fullbacks.  In the earliest of the modern formations, the 2-3-5 formation which dominated the game until the late 1920s, the last line of defence consisted solely of left and right fullbacks playing directly in front of the goalkeeper.  In the late1920s and 1930s, when the centre-halfback was moved back into a position between the two fullback in the modification of the 2-3-5 formation known as the W-M formation (3-2-2-3 or 3-4-3), he became a central defender (although the British still confusingly referred to him as a centre-half) and the left and right fullbacks played either side of him.  The 4-2-4 formation, which first appeared in the late 1950s, made use of two central defenders, still between left and right fullbacks, as did the more defensive 4-4-2 formation of the 1960s, which is still in vogue today.  In these formations, the fullbacks were sometimes allowed to make occasional forays on attack, taking temporarily a position in advance of their team's halfbacks or midfielders and thus becoming overlapping fullbacks.  A still later formation, the 3-5-2, dispenses with traditional fullbacks altogether, deploying three central defenders who are assisted at the back by so-called left and right wingbacks, who fill the fullback's defending role when required but are also expected to play in the midfield and even on attack as a regular matter.

Full-blooded drive -

Full-time -

Gaffer -

Game - The sport of football, as in, "The influx of big money has ruined the game."  "Game" is also often used as a synonym for "match," a specific contest between two teams on the field of play, although it  is more properly used as a reference to the entire sport.

Gazza - The nickname of Paul Gascoigne, the midfield maestro that dazzled on the pitch, but found so much trouble of it.

Gloves - Long an indispensable part of the kit for goalkeepers.  They now have a special adhesive quality that makes it easier to catch, grip and hang on to the ball.  Many outfield players in the colder climates have long worn gloves in the winter months, but they were rarely seen on outfield players in English football until the recent influx of foreign players used to warmer climates.  In England, gloves on outfield players are still widely considered an unbecoming accoutrement indicating weakness.

Go-ahead goal -

Goal -

Goal aggregate -

Goal area -

Goal average -

Goal box -

Goal celebrations -

Goal difference - The plus or minus sum reached by subtracting goals scored against a team [goals against] from the goals scored by that team [goals for].  Goal difference is the most popular means for breaking the deadlock in the table or standings occurring when two or more teams have earned the same number of points in league or group play.  The team with the better goal difference is given the advantage.  The means

Goal line -

Goalkeeper -

Goal kick -

Goalmouth -

Goal net -

Goalpost[s] -

Goals against -

Goals for -

Goalscoring -

Gold Cup -

Golden goal - The name FIFA has formally given to a goal scored in extra-time which wins the match for the scoring team and brings an end to the match.  It is also known as a "sudden death" goal.

Governance -

Governor or Guv'nor -

Greasy surface -

Great Britain -

Groin -

Ground -

Group -

Group of death -

Group phase or stage -

Group play -

Hack -

Half -

Half-time - The interval which occurs midway through the match, between the first half and the second half, which are each 45 minutes in length plus any time added on.  Half-time was once 10 minutes in length in English football, but, after the advent of televised matches, it was lengthened to 15 minutes.

Halfway line -

Halfback -

Half volley -

Hand of God -

Hands or handball -

Hard man -

Hat-trick -

Head -

Head on -

Head to head -

Header -

Headless chicken -

Hold -

Home -

Home countries or nations -

Home International Championship -

Home truth -

Honours -

Hooligans -

Host -

Howler -

Hug the post -

Icy pitch -

In play -

In the meantime or Meanwhile - The phrase/term typically used by many English football writers and editors to introduce a matter entirely unrelated to what has gone before in the story (other than than that it concerns  football in some way) and not even hinted at in the story's headline, which never indicates that the story contains a news round-up.  This technique thereby guarantees that readers not interested in the topic of the headline will not read the matter that follows "in the meantime" or "meanwhile," whether or not they are interested in it.  Thus, for example, after a headline and story about Colchester United's new signing, one who is sufficiently interested in Colchester's new signing to read that far will find something like, "In the meantime, the Football Association announced that England will play Brazil in May."  The upshot is that Colchester United fans are well-informed about the new England fixture,  but England fans not interested in Colchester United remain ignorant.  Once serious football fans become aware of this technique, however, they make it their practice  to read every word of every football story.  Much of their time is wasted, but, hey, it's good  for the game, which gets promoted at all levels.

Indirect free kick -

Indomitable Lions -

Infringement -

Injured -

Injury -

Injury time -

In-form -

Inside left -

Inside right -

Inspection -

Instep -

Inswinger -

Intention -

Intercept -

Interchange positions -

Intercontinental Club Cup -

Interfere -

International -

International Football Association Board [IFAB] -

Internet news groups -

Interpretation -

Intertoto cup -

Into touch -

Jab kick -

Jersey -

Jockey -

Keeper -

Kick -

Kick and run -

Kick and rush -

Kickoff -

Kickoff time -

Kit -

Keepy-uppy -

Knockout competition -

Knockout phase or stage -

Laces -

Late tackle -

Laws of the Game -

Lay off -

League -

League Cup -

League play -

Left-footed -

Left [full]back -

Left wing[er] -

Libero -

Libertadores Cup -

Linesmen -

Line-up -

Lion of Vienna -

Lisbon Lions -

Live coverage -

Lob -

Lofted kick -

Long ball -

Long ball game -

Loss -

Lots -

Lout -

Macca -

Maestro -

Magazines -

Magical Magyars -

Man of the match -

Man short - The phrase used when a team is lacking a man from the original 11 in the lineup which started the match through expulsion by the referee or injury after all allowable substitutions have been made.  Before substitutions were first permitted,  teams sometimes were forced to play a man short,  or even two, three or four short,  through injury.  Hobbled players remained in the match if at all possible, but were placed where they did not see much of  the ball, usually on the wing.  If a team lost more than four men,  the match had to abandoned.   In international football, two substitutes have been allowed since 1970 and three since 1990 in tournament play, and even more in friendly matches by advance agreement of the teams.  It is thus rare these days that a team is forced to play a man short through injury.  If a team plays a man or more short, it is usually because of player expulsion.

Man-to-man marking -

Manager -

Maracan— -

Mark -

Massive - An adjective in massive vogue throughout the football community in England.  It apparently means "huge," as in, "We are a massive club," and it is usually repeated a massive number of times, apparently to ensure the listener is massively impressed.  It rivals "at the end of the day" as the most overused term or phrase in English football.

Master -

Master class -

Match - The basic unit of the sport, the contest between two teams on the field of play, usually 90 minutes in length unless extra-time is played to break a deadlock in the score, as in some tournament and cup matches.  Sometimes "game" is used instead of "match," although it is more properly used to refer to the entire sport of football.  Our guess is that the term "match" originated because two teams were matched against each other.

Match conditions -

Match-fit - The term used to describe a player's physical readiness for match play.  A player may be generally fit in the sense that he has recovered from an injury and yet still not match-fit because he has not yet achieved the physical condition required for the rigours of match play.

Match-sharp -

Match of the day -

Match observer -

Match presenter -

Measured ball or pass -

Metatarsal  bone -

Metodo system -

Midfield -

Midfield anchorman -

Midfield general -

Midfielder -

Midlands -

Minutes -

Mistimed tackle -

Mitropa Cup -

Motty -

Movement -

Movement off the ball -

Mundiale -

Mundialito -

Narrow the angle -

National side or team -

Near corner -

Near post -

Near side -

Net -

Neutral venue -

Newspapers -

Nike -

Nil -

Nod -

Non-league football -

North -

Not fit -

Nutmeg -


O.G. -

Obstruction -

Off the ball -

Official match -

Officials -

Off-season -

Offside -

Offside law -

Offside trap -

Olympic Games -

On the ball -

On the day - A phrase used by those associated with the team that has lost a match to imply that things might well go differently on another day, as in, "They [the winning team] were the stronger team on the day."

Onion bag -

Opposition -

Oriundi -

Out of form -

Out of play -

Outfield players -

Outside left -

Outside right -

Outswinger -

Over-the-ball tackle -

Overhead kick -

Overlap -

Overlapping fullback -

Own goal -

P.K. - Shortened form of 'penalty'

Pace -

Party - [1] The term most commonly used in the U.K. until the 1980s and 1990s to designate the gathering of players, including reserve players, from which the team or side which actually plays in a match is selected, as in, "Tommy Lawton was one of the 16 players chosen for the England party which will embark on a Continental tour featuring matches against Italy, Jugoslavia and Roumania."  Nowadays it is more common to refer to this assemblage of players as the squad.  [2] The entire entourage accompanying the team to a match, including the coaching staff, team officials and, in the case of an England game, certain Football Association officers and employees, as in, "The England World Cup party, led by manager Walter Winterbottom, arrived in Brazil hailed as 'the Kings of Football.'"

Pass -

Pass and run -

Pass back -

Passing game -

Pear-shaped -

Pen. - Shortened form of 'penalty'

Penalty -

Penalty arc -

Penalty area -

Penalty kick -

Penalty shootout -

Penalty spot -

Pinching -

Pitch -

Pitch condition -

Pivot kick -

Place kick -

Placement -

Play -

Play in -

Play on -

Play the man -

Play the ball -

Player -

Player eligibility -

Player of the Year -

Player release -

Player eligibility -

Playmaker -

Playoff -

Points system - The method by which teams engaged in league play or tournament group play are ranked in the competition.  Throughout most of the modern history of the game, two points were awarded for a win, one point for a draw or tie and no points for a loss.  Recently, in an effort to encourage attacking football, the number of points for a win has been lifted to three.   

Pools -

Pools panel -

Position -

Positioning -

Post[s] -

Preliminary match -

Premier League -

Premiership -

Press [1] - England's national broadsheets, which are the full-sized daily and Sunday newspapers, are normally relatively traditional and restrained in their news coverage, as opposed to the tabloid press.  These broadsheets--the Times and Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph,  the Guardian (Monday to Saturday),  the Observer (Sunday) and the Independent and Independent on Sunday--have highly-talented football journalists whose stories are often both intelligently and gracefully written.  The national daily and Sunday tabloids--the Express, the Sunday Express, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Sun (Monday through Saturday), the Star (Monday through Saturday), the People (Sunday) and the News of the World (Sunday)--offer sensationalist news coverage, often outrageous in both content and tone, but they also have extremely capable football journalists, and their football coverage is extensive, although the occasional story, usually produced under the pressures of fierce tabloid competition, turns out to be unreliable.  All these newspapers have websites, although the online football offerings from the Express newspapers, the Daily Mail and the News of the World are slender.   Many local or  provincial  newspapers --for example, the London Evening Standard and the Manchester  Evening News--also have extensive and often superb  football coverage.  

Press [2] -

Pressure -

Preston plumber - A nickname for England winger Tom Finney, coined because of his background in the plumbing business.

Primera Division -

Professional -

Professional Footballers Association -

Promotion -

Protect the ball -

Puma -

Punt -

Purple patch -

Push and run -

Quarter-final -

Qualifying or qualification match -

Quick -

Radio -

Rankings -

Rebound -

Red card -

Re-election -

Referee -

Referee's assistants -

Referee's whistle -

Reflex -

Reflex save -

Regulation time -

Regulations -

Relegation -

Representative matches -

Reverse pass - A pass made by a player in a direction opposite to the way in which he is moving.  Thus a player moving from the wing towards the goal, dragging one or more defending players with him, may play a reverse pass back to a player who has moved into the space he thereby created.  

Right-footed -

Reserve[s] -

Result - [1]  The general term for a win, loss or draw.  [2] The final score of a match, as in "The result was 2-1 for England."   [3]  In England, the term is often used colloquially to mean a win or a draw, as in, "We need to get a result on Saturday."

Right [full]back -

Right wing[er] -

Right-half[back] -

Rival -

Round of 16 teams -

Round robin play -

Rules -

Running off the ball -

Safe hands -

Satellite television -

Save -

Scissors kick -

Score -

Screen -

Season -

Seats -

Second Division -

Second half -

Seleccion - 

Selection - 1. The act of choosing the players who will form the team, either a national or club side, that plays a match.  The selection is usually performed by the manager, coach or technical trainer.  2.  In international football, the act of choosing the players who will form the larger squad from which the team or side that will play a match or matches is drawn.  3.  The team, side or squad so chosen.

Self goal -

Selling the dummy  - The pretence, accomplished  by body movement, even if only a glance of the eyes or perhaps a simple feint of the arms or legs, through which a player deceives the opposition into believing the ball is going to one player when in fact it is going to another.   The classic example occurs when a player tricks his opponent into believing that he is going to receive the ball when in fact he lets it go through or by him to a team-mate.  He has sold the dummy, which is himself.  A player may also sell the dummy by deceiving the opposition into believing he is going to give the ball to one team-mate when in fact he sends it to another or keeps it himself,  perhaps for a shot on goal,  the dummy in those cases being a team-mate rather than himself.  He has also sold the dummy if he deceives the opposition into believing he is going to collect the ball himself but lets it go through or by him directly into the goal.

Semi-finals - The penultimate knockout stage of a tournament in which four teams remain in the competition, Team A playing Team B and Team C playing Team D in two separate matches for a place in the final match.

Sending off - The expulsion of a player from the field of play for egregious foul play or other serious  infraction of the Laws of the Game or (since 1970 in international play) for two cautions for foul play or other infractions in the same match.   The terms "sent  off" and "sending off" originated in British football and are still used there.  But, also since 1970 in international football, the referee has shown a player about to be expelled a red card, and it is common to say a player has drawn or been shown a red card or that he has been red-carded.

Senior team -

Serie A -

Set piece or play - any play made from a dead-ball situation, such as a free kick, a corner kick, a penalty kick, a goal kicks or a throw-in.

Setanta Sports -

Shape -

Shelter the ball -

Shepherd -

Shield the ball -

Shoes -

Shin guards -

Shin splints -

Shirt names -

Shirt numbers -

Shirt-pulling -

Shirts -

Shoot -

Shoot Magazine -

Shoot-out -

Short-passing game -

Shots -

Shots off target -

Shots on target -

Shorts -

Shoulder charge -

Show the ball -

Shut down -

Sicknote -

Side -

Side-foot -

Sideline -

Signing-on fee -

Silky skills -

Sir -

Sitter - A ball so situated that only the slightest and simplest of efforts from an attacking player is needed to put it into the net for a goal, a ball just sitting there waiting to be put into the net, as in, "Jimmy Greaves missed a sitter when he lost his footing, enabling the late arriving fullback to clear the ball" or "Nat Lofthouse missed a sitter when his header from Stanley Mathews' inch-perfect cross struck the cross-bar of a wide open net."

Sixth forward -

Skills -

Sky Sports -

Slick -

Sliding tackle -

Slip -

Smooth -

Snap shot -

Soccer - Short for "association football," the official name of the game, this term is much frowned upon by most of the English football community, including the media, apparently solely because it is the name by which the game is known in the U.S.A. to distinguish it from gridiron football.  "Soccer" was actually coined by students at Cambridge and Oxford Universities in the 1880's, and it was common usage, alongside "rugger," the nickname for rugby football, throughout England until at least the 1970's.  Youngsters may be excused their ignorance of the term's pedigree, but today's English football writers know better yet present a blinkered view, perhaps from fear of losing readers if they use the dreaded "s" word.  One only has to look at older football book titles to see the truth--Tommy Lawton's My Twenty Years in Soccer (1955), for example. Tommy was hardly under American influence, although he did meet legendary baseball player Babe Ruth once and talked player wages with him; there was very little soccer in the U.S.A. at the time.  Those who vehemently protest the use of  "soccer"  have thus allowed an absurd fear of the influence of the U.S.A. to co-opt a venerable English nickname for England's most loved sport.  We, too, much prefer football because it is more descriptive of the game played primarily with the feet and because it  is its official name  (or part of it,  per "association football"),  but the use of  "soccer" should be no big deal--and isn't, except to those who blow up every time they see or hear "soccer" used.  Our own dislike is  for "footie," which  sounds to us like a game played by pansies or beanie babies.  If a nickname is wanted, we prefer  "footer," a term widely used in the England of the 1940's and 1950's. 

Socks -

Solicitor -

Song -

South -

South American Championship -

Speed -

Spin -

Sponsor -

Split the defence -

Sponsors -

Squad -

Square -

Square ball -

Stadium -

Stand -

Starting appearance -

Statistics -

Stewards -

Stockings - see "socks"

Stop -

Stoppage -

Stoppage time -

Stopper -

Stretcher -

Striker -

Strip -

Studs -

Studs-up tackle -

Substitute -

Substitution -

Sudden death goal -

Summer tours -

Sunday shot -

Super Cup -

Super Eagles -

Supporters -

Suspension -

Sweeper -

Sweeper system -

Swerve -

Swiss bolt system -

Swivel -

Swivel kick -

TFC - The Football Confederation.  The name the North American and Caribbean confederation adopted to replace "CONCACAF."  It does not seem to have caught on; the confederation is still commonly referred to as CONCACAF.

Table - The term used in the U.K. for the ranking of the teams engaged in league or tournament group play according to the number of points they have earned, the team having the highest number of points being placed at the top of the table and the team with the lowest number at the bottom.  In other parts of the world, this table is referred to as the standings or the classification.  Teams sharing the same number of points may be separated by their goal difference or goals for or number of wins, according to the rules of the particular competition in which they are engaged.

Tackle - The act of engaging an opposing player in possession of the ball in an effort to take it away from him or at least to force him to lose possession.  Tackling at its best is an art,, but it is fast disappearing in the wake of revisions of the Laws of the Game and their interpretation allowing the referee to call a foul whenever the slightest physical contact is made with the player in possession of the ball.

Tackle from behind -

Tackling back -

Tactics -

Tap - A gentle nudge of the ball with the foot, as in "Stanley Matthews did all the work for the goal, evading half a dozen defenders with his patented body swerve and acceleration before passing to the far post, where Stan Mortensen merely had to tap the ball into an empty net."

Target man - A term of comparatively recent origin, and apparently only used in the U.K., referring to a ball-holding forward, usually a central striker.  Such a player is good at receiving a long ball, holding it, often with his back to the goal, until his team-mates arrive, and laying it off to one of them or using them as dummies and having a go at goal himself.  Hence he is the target man to whom the ball is played from the back.

Taxi cab driver - An occupation fraught with a peculiar hazard since those who peruse it are frequently the target of abuse, physical and verbal, from U.K. footballers who have enjoyed a long night out.

Technical advisor or consultant -

Technical skills -

Technical trainer - The designation used in much of the world, particularly Continental Europe and Latin America, for the team coach--the person in charge of the playing side of team operations.  In the U.K., however, "trainer" generally has been reserved for personnel who look after the players' physical fitness.

Technique -

Team -

Teamwork -

Television -

Ten men - 

Terraces -

There's only  one [fill in blank] -

Third back -

Third division -

Third division north -

Third division south -

Third-place match -

Three lions -

Through ball -

Throw -

Throw-in -

Ticket -

Tie -

Tights -

Time -

Time added on -

Total football system -

Touch -

Touchline -

Tour -

Tournament -

Toyota Cup -

Track -

Trainer -

Training -

Transfer -

Transfer fee -

Trap -

Trip -

Turnstile -

Two-footed -

Two-footed tackle -


UEFA Cup -

Umbro -

Under-21 -

Under-23 -

Ungentlemanly conduct -

United Kingdom -

Unofficial -

Unplayable conditions -

Unsettled -

Unsportsmanlike conduct -

Use the ball -

Venue -

Verrou sytem -

Versatility -

Video -

Video replay -

Violent conduct -

Vision -

Volley -

Victory international -

W-M formation -

Wall -

Wall pass -

Wartime international -

Wasted ball -

Water-logged pitch -

Websites -

Weighted ball -

Wembley -

Wembley Wizards -

Whistle -

Win -

Winded -

Wing -

Wingback -

Winger -

Wing-half -

Wingless Wonders -

Winter break -

Wireless -

Withdrawn -

Wizard -

Wizard of the Dribble -

Woodwork -

Work rate -

World Club Championship -

World Cup -

World Soccer -

Yellow card -

Zonal marking -