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Football Language Podcast: It’s the hope that kills you

Football Language Podcast: It's the hope that kills youFootball Language Podcast: It’s the hope that kills you – Champions League Final 2019: On this extra football-language podcast we take a look at the football phrase, ‘it’s the hope that kills you‘ as I look back at the 2019 Champions League final and attempt to address the pain that football fans feel when their favourite team loses! Listen to the podcast by clicking on the file below – you can also subscribe and listen to all our football-language podcasts – there are hundreds of them dating from way back to 2006! You can improve your English by reading the transcript as you listen, or if you are a teacher of English you can use the transcript to make several listening and/or reading activities for your learners. If you have questions or comments, email us at: (Damian=DF).

It’s the hope that kills you – Champions League Final June 1st 2019.

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Champions League Final Day 2019

DF: Hello everybody, this is Damian from the languagecaster team and as it’s Champions League final time of year I thought it would be a chance to remind us of last year’s final which saw Liverpool win their sixth title and of course my favourite team Tottenham’s only Champions League final appearance. And so with this in mind I’ll be re-visiting the phrase, ‘it’s the hope that kills you‘ and other football language about the pain that football fans go through when supporting their team. There is a transcript, along with vocabulary support, with this podcast which means you can read along as you listen. You can also drop us a line and ask us any questions here at and maybe share with us a story when your team made you feel something like this.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Irish)

Now, I have already mentioned that it’s a year since Tottenham lost in the Champions League final against Liverpool – so that was June 1st 2019. Spurs had never played in a Champions League final before and though they had reached the semi-final of the European Cup, way back in 1962, they had not come close to winning the biggest game in European club football in my lifetime. Until last season.

Although deep down we knew beforehand that the team had not been playing well for a while, that our captain and talisman Harry Kane was not really fit and that Liverpool, five-times European Cup/Champions League winners, were 26 points ahead of us in the Premier League, we actually dared to dream that this beautiful, sunny June day might go down in history for all Spurs fans. We had hope.

This was the hope that all football fans have before every game; not necessarily full of confidence but at least the thought that there is a chance, a possibility of a win, a draw, an upset of some sort that maybe sees the form book being thrown out of the window. And despite the form book very much telling us that we would not win, this had been an extraordinary Champions League campaign, with the team on the brink of elimination on countless occasions, which of course helped to fuel this hope even more.

Remember that after their first three group games against Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV, Tottenham only had one point and been bottom of the group. But after the next three tension-filled games they managed to turn it around with two wins and a draw in the Nou Camp to qualify for the knockout stage. We were starting to to dream…

Stinger: You are listening to (in Irish)

But if the group games had been exciting the knock-out matches were on a different level. Home and away wins over Borussia Dortmund in the last-16 were far tighter than the 4-0 aggregate scoreline suggests and then in the quarter-final against Manchester City, the drama really increased. Tottenham won through to the semi-finals on away goals after two tension-filled ties which saw disputed goals, penalty saves and a disallowed goal in the last second of the match (thanks to VAR). 4-4 on aggregate and Spurs were through on away goals. Incredibly, those games were not even the most dramatic of Tottenham’s Champions League campaign that season. The semi-final second leg comeback against Ajax in the Amsterdam Arena was something that no Spurs fan could have ever imagined. Losing 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate, Spurs went on to score three unanswered goals in a second half that took away the breath and Lucas Moura’s last-minute winner meant that Tottenham were in their first ever Champions League final.

So, after that dramatic campaign, when Tottenham could have been dumped out of the competition on so many occasions, it could be argued that Spurs fans now had a right to dream of European glory. Yes, we all knew that Liverpool were the better team, that they were going to be highly motivated after the defeat in the final the year before against Real Madrid – and that Spurs always find a way to mess things up. But surely after that amazing run to the final things would be different? And so, along with 60,000 other fans we all went down to the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to watch the game on big screens that had been set up on the pitch. Beforehand, the fans sang songs and even I started to have a little belief as kick-off approached – though that may have been to do with one or two pre-match beers…

2019 Champions League Final - White Hart Lane June 1st
2019 Champions League Final – White Hart Lane June 1st

I was told – by fans, friends and pundits, that it was one of the worst ever Champions League finals in history. Maybe. Others, many others, told me that the first-minute penalty decision for Liverpool should never have been given and it ruined the game. Maybe. I was told that Spurs had chances at the end to equalise and with a little luck may have done so. Maybe. I don’t know as I have never watched the game or highlights of the game on TV and honestly have no wish to do so. And this is where the pain, disappointment and frustration all set in for the football fan. I had dreamed that the team might win their first Champions League, I had hoped that with a little more luck the team would crown a wonderful Champions League run with a title but as all football fans know, it’s the hope that kills you.


deep down: We really knew although we may not have shown it

dared to dream: Thought we had a chance of winning

might go down in history: Become one of the most important moments in the club’s history

extraordinary: Unbelievable, remarkable

on countless occasions: On many occasions

to fuel this hope: To make us believe even more

to turn it around: To completely transform their situation

won through to the quarter-finals: They qualified for the last eight

three unanswered goals: They scored three times and the opposition did not reply, they failed to score

took away the breath: Breathless; something amazing happens to make you gasp in surprise!

would crown: Would finish off the season with a positive result
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