In this podcast we talk about a word you wouldn’t expect in football – nosebleed – and how it used to talk about players. Access the transcript of the show below, which is a great way for learners of English to practice.  Make sure you also check out our huge glossary of footballing phrases here. We have hundreds of previous posts and podcasts too on our website. If you are a teacher of English, why don’t you use the audio and transcript to provide practice for their students: Try a gap-fill activity for example. And learners of English can access all resources for free.  Let us know if you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

Learn English Through Football

DB: Hi there everyone. My name’s Damon and you are listening to’s football language podcast. This is the podcast for all lovers of the beautiful game – football – and for those interested in learning English, too. I’m based in Tokyo, Japan, currently experiencing some hot, humid and rainy weather – not a great mix. I hear it is pretty nice weather in London, where Damian, the other member of the languagecaster team is based. Lucky him!

So, it’s hot weather here and the transfer market is hotting up too. I wonder what Damian thinks of James Maddison’s move from Leicester to Tottenham. I’m pretty pleased that Liverpool, the team I support, have already signed Mac Allister from Brighton. But more recruitment needs to be done before next season.

OK, well, today’s podcast and football phrase is not connected with transfers, and it is quite an unusual word used in football. But I think it’s quite interesting, and hope you do too.

NosebleedStinger: You are listening to (in Chinese)

DB: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster and that message was in Chinese.


DB: Right, now today’s football language focuses on the word ‘nosebleed‘. Yes, that’s right – ‘nose‘ plus ‘bleed‘, when blood suddenly starts coming out of your nose. No-one likes a nosebleed, especially if they’re wearing a white shirt! So, what has the word nosebleed and its meaning – blood dripping out of your nose – got to do with football?

When do we get nosebleeds? It is fairly well known that at high altitudes, high up say on a mountain, the dry air and low air pressure can cause nosebleeds. this idea of ‘being high up’ is important when we talk about the word in a football context.

Examples of the phrase

Lets’ look at a few examples. First, a classic example of its use and with one of my favourite football players, the ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher. The example is: Carragher’s going to get a nosebleed he is so far upfield! He races beyond the full-back but his cross is put behind for a corner…”

Carragher was a traditional centre back, so a defender whose main job was to protect the penalty area. Unlike many more modern defenders, his job was not to create chances, carry the ball upfield, or score goals. This example, from a minute-by-minute report, has the sentence, ‘Carragher’s going to get a nosebleed he is so far upfield!’.

The speaker is saying that Carragher is so high up in an attacking position, that he is like someone high up in a mountain. He is in a place he is not used to. He is a defender, so being in the attack is very unusual and he might get a nosebleed.

Used with a team

DB: How about another example. This time with a team: “Sunderland host west London outfit Queens Park Rangers on Saturday eyeing up a home win to possibly take the Lads into nose bleed territory of the very top of the Championship.”

Here we have ‘take the lads into nosebleed territory’. The lads means the team, Sunderland, and if they win the game they may be at the top of the league. Again, nosebleed is used with the idea of being high up – this time in a high position in the league, being there may make the team nervous, as they are close to promotion or the championship. Being nervous and being high up, may give you a nosebleed.

Finally, this last example combines with the phrase ‘halfway line’ in a classic use of nosebleed. This is a minute-by-minute report looking at the teams before kick off: ‘Allan (CM) – May get a nosebleed if he crosses the halfway line but is guaranteed to get stuck in.’

The player, Allen, a central midfielder, may get a nosebleed if he crosses the halfway line, meaning he is not comfortable doing anything else except defending as a central midfielder.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Welsh)

DB: Thank you for that message and that was in Welsh.

Right, we looked at the phrase get a nosebleed and its use to mean a player (or a team) will be very uncomfortable if they are in a position they are not used to: for example, a defender asked to attack or a team not used to being at the top of the league.

If you have a phrase in your language for this, let us know by emailing us at or find us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and leave as a message!


DB: OK, thanks for listening and enjoy all the football where ever you are. Ta-ra!

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

Free football language podcast for learners of English brought to you by Damian and Damon. Interviews, match reviews, predictions all with full language support for football fans around the world who wish to improve their English language skills.

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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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