Football phrases from around the world

Football is a universal language. Anyone that has spent time in the farthest reaches of the world will tell you that love of the game runs deep everywhere. Phrases, sayings, buzzwords and match-day chants take on hugely different forms depending on the culture or coastline of where it’s being played. As fans across the country eagerly await entry back into stadiums, and we start to look forward to dusting off our post-pandemic passports, let’s take a look at some of the best football phrases from around the world.


Football phrases from around the world



Aguante (Argentina) 

Meaning: Endurance

To endure. The true fans that stick with their club through thick or thin, rain or shine, top of the league or absolute rock-bottom.

You’ve only picked up 2 points in your last 10 home games? It doesn’t matter to the true aguante patriot. We all know you’ll still be in your seat come Saturday afternoon.


Armario (Brazil)

Meaning: Wardrobe

Putting the mass in massive, this player strikes fear into the visiting team’s hearts as they line-up in the tunnel. They won’t be the quickest, but when the balls being ping-ponged around the box, there’s only one man for the job. George Elokobi or Victor Wayanma spring to mind. Feel free to finish to the phrase ‘built like a…’ whichever way you’d like. An absolute unit.


Bærtur (Norway)

Meaning: Berry Trip

Typically used to refer to a goalkeeper that’s way off the line or out in no-man’s land. Imagine a Sunday league Manuel Neuer. He has no business chasing the ball this far out the box, but he’s committed himself now and there’s no going back. In Norway, he’d be on a bærtur, or away in the forest picking berries, when he should be somewhere else.


Ban Chim (Vietnam) 

Meaning: Bird Hunting

One of the football phrases from around the world that could apply to a few of the misfiring strikers in the Premier League. Ban Chim is a shot that draws groans from every corner of the ground. One that flies so high over the crossbar it looks as if they were aiming for a flock of birds.


Cucharita (Mexico)

Meaning: Little Spoon

A slow, lightly chipped ball which is scooped up and drops over the keepers head. Also known as a Panenka-style penalty. Get it right? You’re a hero. Get it wrong? You’ve just lived long enough to see yourself become the villain.


Jedenáct statečných (Czech Replublic) 

Meaning: The Brave Eleven

Not many of the football phrases from around the world were born in film but this is one of them. A reference to the Magnificent Seven (with ‘magnificent’ roughly translated to ‘brave’), the jedenáct statečných are a team of players that decided to party the night before a big game and ended up having a few too many.

Despite not being able to resist the allure of a pre-game night out, this battle-hardened band of brothers are ready for action, even if the centre-backs got his boots on the wrong feet.


Klobbi (Iceland) 

Meaning: Nutmeg

The ultimate on-pitch humiliation and one that’s shown in highlight reels for decades. Maradona through Cabrera. Best through Cruyff. Suarez through Luiz. Often referred to as a panna, nutmeg, megs or broosky – now there’s klobbi to add to the list.


Kompispasning (Norway) 

Meaning: A pass from one of your best mates

A sarcastic phrase used to describe a pass back towards safety, made under pressure, which is picked up by the other team.


Mazhariya (Saudi Arabia) 

Meaning: Vase

A shot executed so precisely that the keeper hasn’t had even had a chance to react, leaving him rooted in place, stiff like a vase. Beckham’s 2001 last-minute freekick against Greece is a nostalgic throwback to mazhariya in action.


Raumdeuter (Germany)

Meaning: Space-Interpreter

A raumdeuter or space interpreter / space investigator describes a specific play style of a player such as Thomas Muller. This football phrase is used to describe a particular, yet unique, set of skills which predominately revolves around their ability to quickly process the game around them and consistently put themselves in advantageous positions.

This is a player which occupies a role rather than a set position, whose job is to locate and fill pockets of space and put themselves in difficult to defend situations.


Tiro Telefonata (Italy)

Meaning: Telephoned shot

Much like a telegraphed punch in boxing, a tiro telefonata refers to a shot so predictable the striker might as well as have told the goalkeeper exactly where he was going to put it before the game had even begun.


Ziekenhuisbal (Netherlands) 

Meaning: A hospital ball

A 50/50 challenge, or a hospital ball, is a phrase used when no one knows who will get to a loose ball first. Depending on who’s going in for the challenge, and the speed or size of the players, this could result in one, or both, being stretchered off the pitch and making a hasty trip to the hospital.



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