Football Language: False number 9

False number 9: What is the meaning of the phrase ‘False number 9’ in football?

This post explains the football term ‘False number 9’.False number 9

  • Find out more about this phrase by reading the transcript below.
  • You can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.

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).

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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.