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Buffet Ball – Football Language: Season 2021-22

This football language podcast focuses on the phrase buffet ball, used to describe a particular type of cross. We discuss some football phrases from the Manchester United vs Liverpool clash last weekend. The transcript for this podcast is available below, and you can also access our glossary of footballing phrases here and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions please contact us at or leave a question or comment on our forum. (DB=Damon)

Buffet Ball – Football Language: Season 2021-22

DB: You’re listening to’s football language podcast.  Hi there everyone and welcome to languagecaster and our short podcast and the language used in football. This podcast series and our site is a great place to come if you want to improve your English while also talking about the beautiful game of football.

Right, today, I’m going to start with a phrase you probably won’t see in any match report as it is very casual and usually spoken – buffet ball. I heard this phrase while watching Manchester United take on Liverpool last Sunday. What a game that was, especially for a Liverpool fan like me. 5-0 wow! I could talk about each of those goals, but let’s get back to our first, and main, phrase today – a buffet ball – and we’ll do that after this:

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Stinger: You are listening to (in Cantonese).

Buffet Ball

DB: OK, so we’ve got a noun on this phrase, ball, a ball. And a ball, of course means the football, but it is also very often used to mean a cross or a pass. You might hear a commentator say, ‘That’s a great ball into the box’ for example, meaning a really good cross; or perhaps ‘The ball to Salah was inch perfect’, meaning the pass was very accurate.

And in this phrase, it is used to mean a cross or pass. So, what about buffet? Well this is a noun but is used as an adjective, so it is describing the ball, describing what kind of cross it is. A buffet is a large meal with lots of dishes and you can choose what you want and serve yourself, and a buffet ball is an inviting pass or cross, the ball is right in front of the striker and the ball is asking to be hit into the net.

In the Manchester United vs Liverpool game, the second goal was after a buffet ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold. He passed the ball right across the six yard line in front of Diogo Jota. The striker just needed to touch the ball and it was a goal.

Keeping with the theme of food, it is also quite common to hear the phrase a delicious ball, meaning an excellent, accurate pass or cross.

As I said, you don’t often see the phrase buffet ball written in reports, and this is how The Guardian minute-by-minute described the same goal:

He (Trent Alexander-Arnold) slid an immaculate low cross to the far post, where Jota stretched to steer the ball into the empty net.

We could change it to - Trent Alexander-Arnold slid a buffet ball to the far post.

Embed from Getty Images

Sumptuous pass

DB: Let’s stick with the theme of passes and fast forward to Liverpool’s last goal, the goal that made it Manchester United nil Liverpool five. It was Salah’s hat trick, his third goal, but the pass that set it up was fantastic.

Henderson hit a pass with the outside of his foot to bend it between the two Manchester United centre backs and into Salah’s path. A pass like this can be called ‘sumptuous‘, which means beautiful, fantastic, breathtaking – all in one.

This example (The Guardian) is not from the Man United Liverpool game but from a week earlier and describes a pass by Salah:

The Egyptian spotted Mané’s run. He fed it with a first-time pass, bent with the outside of his foot and perfectly weighted beyond two covering opponents. It was a sumptuous piece of skill and Mané rewarded it with a clinical finish on the run, bringing up his milestone.

And that was also another 5-0 win for Liverpool against Watford. Liverpool are on fire at the moment!

Stinger: You are listening to (Arsenal fan).

Good Bye

DB: Yes, you are listening to and thank you for that message from an Arsenal fan! Right, that brings us to the end of this short football language podcast. Remember these phrases – a buffet ball, a delicious ball, a sumptuous pass – all phrases to talk about this game.

Drop us a line anytime at You can read the transcript for the show on our website at and post on our forum! And if you like what we do, leave a donation to keep our site up and running. Enjoy all the football. Ta-ra!

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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