Football Language: False number 9
The number 9 in football is usually taken by the main striker or forward at the club – the player who scores the goals for the team. As well as scoring goals, the number 9’s job also involves playing with his/her back to goal in order to hold-up the ball and bring others into the game. Sometimes a team does not want to play with this type of player but instead wishes to take advantage of the space behind where the number 9 traditionally plays and so does not play with his or her back to goal or running on to through balls and we call this position a ‘false number 9’. The Spanish national side played with a false number 9 in the European Championship win in 2012 – mainly with Cesc Fabregas.
Example: Alvaro Morata is suspended for today’s game against Everton so Eden Hazard will play as a false number nine instead.
Example: The false number nine is an accepted role but with different interpretations (Guardian.co.uk 30 December 2013).