In this football language podcast we look at the phrase ‘sweet volley‘ from the England-Scotland game from Group B in the 2020 European Championships. You can 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

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Football Language Podcast Euros 2020: Day 8 – Sweet Volley

DF: Hello everyone, this is Damian from the Learning English Through Football team – I hope you are all doing well. We are posting a football expression from the Euro 2020 tournament every day – yesterday Damon looked at the expressions ‘hit their stride‘ and ‘book their spot‘ from the match between Austria and the Netherlands and today I’m looking at a description of a shot from the Scotland versus England game at Wembley: Hit the volley sweetly.

Stinger: You are listening to (in French).

…Tierney took a pass from Andy Robertson, beat James to cross and O’Donnell caught his volley sweetly. ( June 18 2021)
Here the Guardian newspaper report describes the shot from Scotland wing back Stephen O’Donnell – he volleyed the cross from Scotland captain Andy Robertson which means he hit the ball while it was still in the air. This kind of shot is quite difficult to carry out as the player needs a lot of technique and control to hit the ball just right. If a player hits the volley sweetly it means that they have hit it really, really well – another way of saying this is ‘cleanly‘ – the player hit the ball cleanly. Sometimes we can hear the verb ‘to catch’ used with this phrase – the player caught the ball sweetly – which means they have hit the ball well, while we can also hear the phrase ‘a sweet strike‘ which refers to any shot that has been really well hit.

Another form of volley we might hear in football is a half-volley which is when the player hits (or catches) the ball just as it is hitting the ground and again the player has to demonstrate really good control and technique to make sure they don’t blaze the ball wide or over the bar or that they don’t slice or mishit their shot.

So, O’Donnell’s volley was sweetly struck – he caught his volley sweetly – but the England keeper Pickford made a strong one-handed save to parry the shot and the game remained scoreless.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Italian).

Good Bye

DF: Yes, you are listening to – that message was in Italian. Don’t forget that there’s a transcript to this podcast and lots of vocabulary support which you can access by coming along to our site. OK, that’s it for this short podcast – we hope you enjoyed our look at the phrase ‘sweet volley‘ from day eight of the 2020 Euros and we’ll be back with more tomorrow. Don’t forget you can also come along and play in our predictions competition, vote in our Euro 2020 poll and find lots of football language on our site here at Enjoy all the football and we’ll see you again soon. Bye bye.

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