Football Language: (a) Fringe Player

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In this post we explain the noun phrase ‘fringe player.’ You can find more football words and expressions in our glossary of footballing phrases here, and you can visit our site to access all the previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions then contact us at

Football Language: (a) Fringe Player

In this post, I’m going to take a look at the phrase ‘fringe player.’ This is quite an easy expression to understand if we look at some examples of the noun fringe. A fringe is the part of your hair that goes over your forehead – it’s the edge of your hair, the last part, not the central part on the top of your head. A fringe is also a decoration at the edge of clothes – again, not the main part of the clothing. So, a fringe player is a player on a team that is not a regular starter in the first team. They may not even get on the bench often – they are at the fringe of the team, the edge.

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You might also hear the phrase ‘a bit-part player‘ meaning the same thing – a player that is not a regular in the first 11, someone who plays only a small part in the season. This week, in the Champions League, a fringe player at Chelsea, Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored a hat-trick against Bate, from Belarus. Maybe he won’t be a fringe player much longer!

Here’s another example from The Independent from September 2018Gareth Southgate has warned England’s fringe players that if they are still not playing for their clubs by October’s international break, he may have to drop them.

Example: Fringe player decisions causes headache for David Moyes as hectic West Ham fixtures loom (10 Football London December 2020)

Related Vocabulary

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and if you have any suggestions or questions, contact us at

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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FEpisode 44