This podcast is for all those who love football and also want to improve their English. This week, we look at the word ‘thunder’ and how it is used in football. Read the transcript of the show below. It is a great way for learners of English to practice listening and reading skills. You can also check out our massive glossary of footballing phrases here. We have hundreds of previous posts and podcasts too on our website. If you are a teacher of English, you could use the audio and transcript to provide practice for your students: Try a fill in the blank activity, pick out some key vocabulary before playing the podcast as an audio quiz, etc. All  can access these resources for free.  Let us know if you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

Learn English Through Football

thunderDB: Hi there everyone and Happy New Year from Japan. My name’s Damon, and this is my first post of 2024, while Damian, the other half of the team has already posted on the Club World Cup, which of course was won by Manchester City. So check that out by coming along to 0ur site at

It hasn’t been a great start over here in Japan , with a massive earthquake striking on the 1st of January, but let’s hope the rest of the year is better!

On today’s football language podcast, I’m going to look at some phrases all connected with the word ‘thunder‘.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Japanese)

DB: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster and that message was in Japanese.


DB: OK, let’s start by talking about the word thunder, which is the sound made during an electrical storm. The lightening is the flash of light and that is followed by the sound, the thunder. Of course, this sound is very powerful and dramatic and is a sign that you should take cover and stay inside, as the weather could be dangerous.

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So what about in football, how do we use the word thunder?

Blood & Thunder

Well let’s start with the phrase blood and thunder. A blood and thunder encounter or a blood and thunder tie, is a match with a lot of passion and a lot of strong tackles, perhaps between derby rivals. This week is the FA Cup third round matches in England. A lot of ties, or fixtures, will have smaller teams up against more famous teams, and sometimes derby rivals play each other. You will often hear the phrase blood and thunder to describe these matches.

For example, here is how the Mirror Online described the match between local rivals Sunderland, the ‘Black Cats’ and Newcastle, ‘The Magpies’: “The Black Cats and the Magpies squared off at a rocking Stadium of Light, with blood and thunder pumping from the stands onto the pitch.”

This describes the passionate atmosphere form the fans which influenced the play on the pitch.


DB: Next, let’s turn to an adjective using thunderthunderous. this adjective means very powerful and describes tackles or shots. A thunderous tackle is a very very hard tackle, with one player probably knocking the opponent to the ground. Here’s an example from a report on the Chelsea v Liverpool match in the 2023 season: “Jota goes down holding his knee, offering a brief pause for both sets of players after a breathless first half. The Portugal international felt his right leg after a thunderous tackle from Colwill, who won the ball.

So, Jota is hurt by the tackle, he is holding his knee; it was a hard but fair tackle.  As I mentioned, it can also be used with shot, so a thunderous shot.


Sticking with shots, but this time a noun – a thunderbolt. We use the word thunderbolt to describe a lightning flash and a huge sound of thunder, and this power is the reason we use it in football to describe a type of shot. If a player scores with a thunderbolt it suggests that the shot is a powerful one – a really powerful one – and is unstoppable; the keeper cannot stop the shot.

Be careful, a thunderbolt is not the same as a lightning strike as a lightning strike includes the meaning of speed, and is usually used to describe a quick counter attack resulting in a goal. Anyway, in this week’s FA Cup tie between Tottenham and Burnley, Spurs player, ‘Porro fired a thunderbolt‘ past the Burnley keeper, Muric, who had no chance at all. A thunderbolt must be scored from distance – it cannot be a close range shot for example

Stinger: Your are listening to (in Korean)


DB: Thank you for that message in Korean. Right, we looked at three ways to use ‘thunder‘ in the language of football. First, a blood and thunder tie – a match with a lot of passion. Second, the adjective thunderous, meaning powerful, and used with tackles or shots. Finally, the noun a thunderbolt, a powerful shot.

OK, that’s it for this podcast on the language of football. Make sure to follow us on all the usual social media sites. And, you can leave comments and questions via our forum at And, if you have any ideas for football phrases, any questions, predictions, comments, just let us know.

Thanks for listening and enjoy all the football wherever you are and have a great 2024. Ta-ra!

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

Free football language podcast for learners of English brought to you by Damian and Damon. Interviews, match reviews, predictions all with full language support for football fans around the world who wish to improve their English language skills.

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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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Football GlossaryEpisode 1081