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Football Idioms To Learn When Watching The World Cup

22 Football Idioms You Need To Know Before Watching The World Cup

Football is the world’s most popular sport, but with so many different languages and countries playing it, there are loads of language barriers that can get in the way of understanding what is happening on the field.

To help you understand some of the more common phrases used in football commentary, we’ve put together a list of 22 useful football idioms that you can use to improve your understanding of the game.

1. On the ball: This idiom means that someone is alert and attentive. For example, “He’s always on the ball when it comes to spotting potential new signings for his team.”

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2. Keep your eye on the ball: This phrase is used to tell someone to pay attention to what they are doing. For example, “The goalkeeper needs to keep his eye on the ball at all times or he could concede a goal.”

3. Get your head in the game: This idiom means to start paying attention to what is happening around you. For example, “The striker wasn’t scoring any goals in the first half because he just wasn’t getting his head in the game.”

4. In the thick of it: This phrase means that someone is involved in a lot of activity or a difficult situation. For example, “The goalkeeper was in the thick of it when the opposing team started throwing punches at each other.”

5. On the back foot: This idiom means that someone is in a difficult or unfavorable position. For example, “The team was on the back foot for most of the match and ended up losing 3-0.”

6. Take a step back: This phrase means to calm down or relax. For example, “The coach told the players to take a step back after they started arguing with the referee.”


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7. Keep your cool: This idiom means to remain calm in a difficult or stressful situation. For example, “Even though his team was losing, the captain kept his cool and didn’t get angry with his players.”

8. Lose your head: This idiom means to become so angry or upset that you cannot think clearly. For example, “The striker lost his head and got himself sent off after he fouled the goalkeeper in a fit of rage.”

9. See red: This idiom means to become so angry that you cannot think clearly, similar to “lose your head”. For example, “The referee showed the player a red card after he saw red and started punching the other team’s players.”

10. Cool as a cucumber: This idiom means to remain calm in a difficult or stressful situation, similar to “keep your cool”. For example, “Even though the game was getting heated, the goalkeeper remained cool as a cucumber and didn’t let any goals in.”

11. Keep your distance: This phrase means to not get too close to someone or something. For example, “The defenders need to keep their distance from the striker or he will be able to nutmeg them easily.”

12. Get stuck in: This idiom means to work hard or get involved in something. For example, “The new player got stuck in and showed everyone what he was capable of.”

13. Put your foot in it: This idiom means to say or do something that causes problems or offends someone. For example, “The player put his foot in it when he made a racist remark about the opposition’s players.”

14. Dig your heels in: This idiom means to refuse to budge on something or give up. For example, “The team’s manager is digging his heels in and refuses to sell the player even though he has been offered a lot of money for him.”

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15. Get off to a flying start: This idiom means to start something quickly or do something very well from the beginning. For example, “The team got off to a flying start and scored two goals in the first five minutes of the match.”

16. Take your foot off the gas: This idiom means to relax or stop trying so hard. For example, “The team took their foot off the gas in the second half and ended up drawing the match.”

17. On the verge of: This idiom means that something is about to happen. For example, “The team was on the verge of winning the match but conceded a late goal and ended up losing.”

18. Hang your head in shame: This idiom means to feel embarrassed or ashamed about something you have done. For example, “After what he said, the player hung his head in shame and left the room.”

19. In extra time: This idiom means that the match has gone into extra time because the score was level at the end of normal time. For example, “The match went into extra time after neither team could find a winner in normal time.”

20. Keep your eyes peeled: This phrase means to be on the lookout for something or someone. For example, “Keep your eyes peeled for the new striker – he’s bound to be a good signing for the team.”

21. The writing is on the wall: This idiom means that it is obvious what is going to happen. For example, “After the team lost their star player to injury, the writing was on the wall and everyone knew they were going to have a tough season.”

22. That’s football: This idiom is used to describe something that is unfair or unlucky but is just a part of the game. For example, “He missed an easy chance but that’s football – you can’t win them all.”

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Introduction to Football Idioms

When it comes to watching football, or any sport for that matter, there are certain terms and phrases that are used regularly by commentators and fans alike. Some of these terms may be familiar to you, but others may not be. This guide will introduce you to some of the most common football idioms so that you can follow along with the action during the World Cup.

One of the most commonly used phrases in football is “a game of two halves.” This idiom is used to describe a match that is evenly matched or close throughout. Another popular phrase is “to take it one game at a time.” This means to focus on the task at hand and not look too far ahead.

There are also a number of terms used specifically when describing goals and near-misses. When a player shoots just wide of the goal, this is known as “missing the target.” If a shot hits the post or crossbar, this is referred to as “hitting the woodwork.” And finally, when a save is made by the goalkeeper, this is called “a great save.”

So now that you know some of the most common football idioms, you’ll be able to follow along with all the action during the World Cup!

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Top 10 Most Common Football Words/slang

Other Slang Terms for Teams, Fans and Players related to Soccer.

1.1. “Soccer”

The term “soccer” is a slang term for football that is commonly used in the United States and Canada. The word “soccer” comes from the English word “association”, which is the sport’s governing body. In the United Kingdom, the term “football” is more commonly used than “soccer”.

1.2. “Footie”

The term “footie” is a slang term for football that is commonly used in the United Kingdom and Australia. The word “footie” is a shortened version of the word “football”. In the United Kingdom, the term “football” is more commonly used than “footie”.

When it comes to talking about football, there are a lot of terms and phrases that you might not be familiar with.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of some common football idioms that you might hear during the World Cup.

  • Football team: A group of eleven players who play together in a competition.
  • Football club: A team that competes in a league.
  • Supporters: People who follow and encourage their team. They can also be called fans or followers.
  • Rival teams: Two teams that compete against each other regularly.
  • Home team: The team playing in its own stadium in front of its own supporters.
  • Away team: The team playing away from its home ground.
  • League: A competition in which teams play each other on a regular basis.
  • Cup: A knockout tournament in which teams compete against each other to win a trophy.
  • Boots: These are another word for cleats.
  • Ball: This is what they play with! duh! 😀
  • Goalkeeper: This is the player who defends the goal. They are also sometimes called the goalie or keeper.
  • Forward: This is an attacking position on the field. Forwards try to score goals.
  • Midfielder: This is a position on the field between the forwards and defenders. Midfielders help out both the offense and defense.


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With the World Cup just around the corner, it’s time to brush up on your football lingo. These 22 idioms will help you understand what everyone’s talking about when they’re watching the games. From “own goal” to “sacked,” you’ll be an expert in no time. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful game.

Thank you for Reading!

This was written by me. Bryce Purnell, founder of Learn Laugh Speak.

Check out more on my Medium or send me an email if you’re ever curious about anything at all 


2 thoughts on “Football Idioms To Learn When Watching The World Cup

  1. Pingback: How to Use the CEFR to Boost Your International Test Scores

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