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Football Language Podcast: (to) Gift

giftIn this week’s short football language podcast, we take a look at the verb ‘to gift‘, along with some other football language. Check out our football glossary and football cliches pages for hundreds more explanations of the language of soccer. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments then please email us at:

Listening Report: (to) Gift

DB: You’re listening to Hi there everyone. Glad you could join us for another short football language podcast. My name’s Damon, I’m based in Tokyo, and I’m one of the languagecaster team, the other being Damian in London. We both hope you are all well wherever you are and are enjoying the football.

On this show, I’m going to take a look at the verb to gift and how you might use it, or hear it, when talking about football.

Stinger: You’re listening to (in French)

To Gift

Yes, you are listening to, and that wonderful message was in French. OK, let’s get started with our phrase for today and how to use it.

Let’s start with the word ‘gift‘ as a noun. A gift is a present. You give people presents, or gifts, on special occasions like birthdays or weddings. Mostly, you hear ‘gift‘ as a noun, but today, we’re interested in its use as a verb. Notice I used the word ‘give’ with gift or present just now – give someone a gift, but you can also ‘gift‘ someone something.

But it would be unusual to hear someone say ‘she gifted a gift‘ or ‘he gifted his friend a present‘. But in football you will hear this verb when a player makes a mistake and ‘gives‘ or ‘gifts‘ the opponent a goal, the ball, or a chance.

Now, long term listeners will know I am a Liverpool fan and this weekend they played Manchester City. They lost 4-1 at home – ouch! But in the game, their goalkeeper made some big mistakes which led to Manchester City scoring twice –  . Here’s how described it –

Liverpool’s Premier League title defence appears to have ended at the feet of Alisson Becker as two awful errors by the goalkeeper gifted Manchester City a 4-1 victory at Anfield.

And another report, this time from the

Ilkay Gundogan missed a penalty for City in the first half but made amends by opening the scoring shortly after the break. Mohamed Salah then converted a penalty to equalise, before Alisson’s errors gifted City a two-goal lead through Gundogan and Raheem Sterling.

So the goalkeeper, Alisson’s mistakes, gave, or gifted, Manchester City the victory, or a two-goal lead in  these examples. You can say gift the win, gift a victory, gift a lead, gift a goal, and so on. But remember, when we are talking about the game it will be in the past tense, gifted, they gifted the opposition the victory, they gifted the lead etc.

Stinger: You’re listening to (Bayern Munich fan)

(to) Put on a Plate

DB: Another phrase, which is also about giving a chance to score to another player is the verb phrase, to put it on a plate. If you put something on a plate you serve some food to somebody In football it means you pass the ball to your teammate, giving the player a clear, easy chance to score.

(to) Hand on a Plate

But we’ve been talking about a goalkeeper making a mistake and gifting a goal. We can change this phrase a little to mean the same thing. If you say to hand on a plate, the meaning changes slightly to mean you have given the opponent a chance to score or to win the game. So in the example of Alisson, we would say he handed Manchester City two goals on a plate. We could also say, he handed the match to Manchester City.

Put on a plate is to give your team a great chance by making a great pass, while hand on a plate is to give something away, so give your opponent a chance to score or win.

Here’s an example of this usage from the Daily Mirror: “The trouble with Tottenham on this occasion was that they handed the points to Chelsea on a plate and Chelsea’s men took them.” (The Mirror, August 2017).

And another from February 2020 in a headline in David Luiz and Bernd Leno handed Wolves this win on a plate as their pricey red cards crushed Arsenal’s possibilities on a horrible night for Mikel Arteta.”

Good bye

OK, two football phrases that talk about giving another team a chance: to gift and to hand on a plate.

Thanks for listening. Stay safe, enjoy the football, and we’ll be back soon with some more football language to talk about.


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

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