International Soccer Lingo You Should Learn NOW


Soccer, simply known as “football” in just about every country except the United States of America, is a global phenomenon, a popular sport that captures national attention year-round and inspires and unites legions of devoted fans.

While most Americans tend to only get excited about soccer every four years when the World Cup rolls around, to the rest of the world soccer is a sport that knows no borders.

For Americans interested in soccer, IFX Soccer (the International Futbol X-Change) is a top international soccer organization that helpsyoung soccer players develop their skillset in a soccer exchange programs overseas.


Our programs place the athlete in a foreign soccer club we partner with, allowing the athlete to develop their soccer skills at an accelerated pace while increasing their cultural awareness through full immersion in the host country.

We maintain an extensive network of competitive and elite clubs throughout Europe, and IFX participants experience a level of training that few can experience in their home country, through various weekly regimens. This allows players to learn advanced European training methods as well while experiencing unique cultural interaction.

Since 2003, IFX Soccer has been building and perfecting our programs, and are proud to offer a range of programs of varying lengths and for multiple skillsets, to meet your unique needs. Whether you’re interested in a youth soccer summer camp program or an entire academic year where your student athlete can craft and perfect their skills, or you’re an adult amateur player looking to take an intensive 30-day program to take your skills to the next level, IFX soccer has programs that can match your requirements and give you one of the greatest experiences of your life.


To learn more about soccer in another country, you may be interested in learning the slang terms thrown around in Western Europe and South America. Just like Americans might use specific terms in reference to gridiron football, sometimes using them as a metaphor for situations outside the game, soccer slang has its own set of terms and references that can seem dense and incomprehensible.

Fear not! This article will function as a crash course in common soccer terms and expressions. Soon, you’ll be so knowledgeable about all the British soccer slang, as well as slang from other countries, that you’ll be speaking it like an old pro!

Common British Soccer Slang Terms

  • All over the place: While in the United States saying a player is all over the place means they’re covering the field and playing well, in British slang it refers to a player who is doing poorly!
  • Asking questions: When your team is playing well and creating openings and chances, you’re asking questions of the defense.
  • At the back: Refers to defense.
  • Back four: The four defensive players.
  • Ball: Most obviously, the object of play, but the word “ball” is also used to mean a pass.
  • Boot: Refers to kicking; sometimes derogatorily to mean an unskilled one.
  • Box: The 18-yard penalty area.
  • Bright: Slang for playing or performing well.
  • Clean sheet: A shutout game when one side doesn’t score at all.
  • Cracker: A term meaning “really good one,” as in “that shot was a cracker!”
  • Dodgy: Usually referring to the goalkeeper, meaning lame or weak.
  • End to end: A game where both teams are going for it and the game is wide open.
  • Fightback: The British term for a comeback.
  • Finish: A term for scoring.
  • Formations: How the players are arranged on the field. Typically, numbers are used in succession to describe the split between defenders, midfielders, and forwards. The numbers will always add up to ten, as they don’t include the goalkeeper.
  • Full time: End of the game.
  • Going forward: When the team is on the offensive.
  • Long ball: Similar to a long pass in American football, when you kick the ball far upfield to another teammate.
  • Mark: To guard another player.
  • Nutmeg: Putting the ball between an opponent’s legs.
  • On frame: At the goal.
  • Overrun: When the midfielders of one team are performing badly against the midfielders of the opposing team, they’re being overrun.
  • Pearler: An outstandingly good shot or goal.
  • Pegged back: When you’re ahead and the other team ties the score, you’ve been pegged back.
  • Pitch: The field.
  • Quality: Skill or class.
  • Red card: A referee uses a red card to give a player an immediate expulsion, usually for personal fouls or other violations.
  • Sent off: Getting expelled by a red card.
  • Set pieces: Free kicks and corner kicks.
  • Spot kick: A penalty kick.
  • Strike: As opposed to the bad kind of strike in baseball, a strike in soccer means a shot on goal.
  • Touchlines: The sidelines of the field.
  • Up top: At the front, usually meaning your forwards or strikers.
  • Yellow card: A warning from the referee. Two of these, and you get a red card.

Dutch Soccer Slang

  • Panna: To kick the ball between an opponent’s legs.
  • Schwalbe: To dive, usually for the ball.
  • Stofzuiger: Means “vacuum cleaner” and refers to a very defensive midfielder.
  • Winkelhaak: Means “t-square” and is used to describe the top corner of the goal.
  • Ziekenhuisbal: Literally translates to “hospital ball” and is used when an especially bad pass is made.
  • Chocoladebeen: Translates to “chocolate leg” and refers to the weak or non-dominant leg of a player.

Italian Soccer Slang

  • Catenaccio: Means “door-bolt.” Refers to a style of play where you prioritize preventing the other team from scoring goals over anything else. Handy for when you’re a man down or just need to hang onto a lead.
  • Tunnel: When the ball is kicked between an opponent’s legs.
  • Lisciare: When a shooting attempt is made and, instead, misses badly.
  • Papera: When an error on the part of a player allows the attacking team to score a goal.
  • Cucchiaio: Literally translates to “spoon” and describes a curving penalty kick that is intended to sneak into the goal.
  • Falciare: Literally means “to mow.” When a player is tackled hard.
  • Scartare: Dribbling.
  • Veronica: A dribbling technique where you put yourself between the opponent and the ball by rotating.
  • Il Sette: Means “the seven.” Refers to the top corner of the goal due to the shape. The best place for a striker to aim a kick.

South American Soccer Slang

  • Caño/Túnel/Caneta/Janelinha: The term for when the ball is kicked between an opponent’s legs.
  • Ladrón: Literally means “robber” or “thief.” Used to describe when an attacker doesn’t see an approaching defender.
  • Matador: Means “killer.” A player who scores a lot of goals.
  • Perna de Pau: Means “wooden legs” and refers to a player who can’t dribble the ball well.
  • Pipoquiero: A player who doesn’t perform well in important games.

There are many soccer camps to choose from, but we, here at IFX Soccer feel that our program truly offers something that no other does. Because we maintain relationships with the best soccer clubs and have several different types of programs available for athletes ranging from youth all the way to professional, along with hosting in the parent country for an unparalleled experience in cultural assimilation, IFX Soccer programs are well worth investigating.

Our total immersion programs provide a unique experience with an opportunity to learn from European training philosophies and methodologies. For more information on IFX and what makes us the superior experience in soccer camps, academies, schools, and programs, please do not hesitate to call us at 510-599-4625. We eagerly look forward to hearing from you and sharing the benefits of our carefully crafted program with you and your athletes.

Choose the best international soccer immersion program combining international education and football!

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