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Football Language: (to) Clip the Heel of

Clip the HeelIn this football language post we look at the phrase ‘to clip the heel of‘, which is a phrase used when talking about fouls. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at:

The verb to ‘clip‘ used with the noun ‘heel(s)’ – to ‘clip someone’s heel‘, or to ‘clip the heel of someone‘ is a way of talking about a foul. The heel is the back part of the foot – toes at the front, sole at the bottom, and heel at the back. If you clip someone’s heel, you kick the back of their foot as they are running. A clip is a slight touch. Doing this means the runner will usually fall over because their heel is clipped, hit, and their legs become tangled up. Basically, to clip someone’s heel is to trip them over, to foul them.

Here’s an example from as a footballer discusses a deliberate foul:“De Bruyne broke in the 89th minute, I’ve slid and clipped his heel. They’re the ones you appreciate other lads doing.”

So, the player slid and tackled De Bruyne by clipping his heel, probably stopping the attack and giving away a free kick – a professional foul.

To clip is also used with clip the bar – to hit the bar and rebound over the goal, and to clip a pass – to give a delicate cross.

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

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
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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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