Football Glossary: (to) Pull the strings

In this football language post we explain the expression, ‘pull the strings‘. You can also read a transcript for this podcast below, while you can also check out 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 then you can contact us at

Pull the Strings

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To pull the strings in football means a player is controlling the match; they decide the tempo or rhythm of the game. Usually the player who pulls the strings is one of the best players in the team (mostly a midfielder) as they pass the ball, keep possession and create chances for his or her team. Another way of saying this is to influence the game, they make things happen in the match.

  • Example: Lille dominated the first half with Dimitri Payet pulling the strings.
  • Example: Juan Mata can pull the strings for Chelsea (Headline)

Related Vocabulary

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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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Learn English Through FootballWelcome to the website that helps students interested in football improve their English language skills. Football fans can practise with lots of free language resources, including football-language podcasts and our huge football-language glossary.

Football GlossaryEpisode 433