In this football language podcast we look at the phrase ‘fortress‘ which is used to describe a stadium where the home team is very strong and does not lose very often. Don’t forget we have hundreds more explanations of football language in our football glossary and we also have a page full of football cliches. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at:

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Learn English Through Football Podcast: Fortress

DF: Hello again everyone and welcome to – the football-language podcast for learners and teachers of English. I’m Damian and I’m based here in London where the weather has recently been very wet indeed. What is the weather like where you are? I wonder what the weather is like in Tokyo in Japan where of course the other member of the Languagecaster team Damon is based? Now, recently here at Languagecaster we have posted some football-language podcasts on the phrase ‘bundle home‘ and we also looked at some of the language from the recent Copa Libertadores final which of course Fluminense won. We have also posted some new phrases on our site including, The Toffees and the phrase ‘To be at it‘. Just come along to our site to find these language-learning resources. And on today’s podcast we will be explaining the word ‘fortress‘ – what do you think this means in football?

Stinger: You are listening to (from Vietnamese fans)

What football have you been watching recently? Have you watched any of the Champions League? Or maybe the new WSL season in England – that’s the Women’s Super League of course. Or maybe you saw the recent ‘clasico‘ in Spain in which Jude Bellingham scored a brace (including a very late goal) to defeat Barcelona? Or maybe that crazy game of football earlier this week between Tottenham and Chelsea? Hopefully your team has been doing well – my favourite team Tottenham are currently second in the Premier League – despite that 1-4 loss to Chelsea – while Damon’s favourite side Liverpool are currently in third place so we are both really happy. And so on this short podcast we will be looking at a phrase that describes when a team is playing really well and, in particular, when they are playing well at home. So, we’ll be explaining the term, ‘fortress‘.

Stinger: You are listening to (from a Spanish fan)


The meaning of the word ‘fortress‘ is a big building (or maybe a group of buildings) that protects people against an attack; it is like a castle and it defends the local population. In football, we use the word fortress to describe a stadium where a home team rarely lose or that they win lots of their home matches. So, if a team wins lots of games at home we can say that their home stadium can be described as a fortress. Sometimes we might hear the word ‘fortress‘ beside the name of the stadium so for example, Fortress Anfield describes the Liverpool home stadium while the home team are on an unbeaten run. I am not sure however that we say ‘Fortress Etihad‘ to describe the amazing Manchester City home record of 20-plus games unbeaten at home? Maybe we would say that City have turned their home into a fortress rather than use the sponsor’s name. However, I did see the name of the Bayern Munich Stadium (The Allianz) mentioned alongside the word ‘fortress‘ when describing their amazing 29-game unbeaten home run in the Champions League (that’s 28 wins and one draw!).

If the word ‘fortress‘ is used to describe a stadium then it also suggests that it will be difficult for the away team to win there but if they do win then the verb ‘breach‘ is often used as this means to break through a strong defence such as a fortress. So, in the following example we can see that Leeds defeated Liverpool at Fortress Anfield – they caused an upset by winning away.

  • Example: Leeds Breach Fortress Anfield As Liverpool Suffer First EPL Home Loss Involving Virgil Van Dijk (, Oct 29, 2022)

Here are some more examples with the word ‘fortress‘ and this shows managers wanting to make their home stadiums into a fortress – they use the verbs ‘create a fortress‘ and ‘turn the stadium into a fortress’:

  1. Example: Marco Silva has spoken of his desire to create a Goodison Park fortress so he can take comfort from the increased security in the old stadium. (Telegraph, 2019 August 17) So Goodison Park, of course, is the Everton football ground and back in 2019 (manager) Marco Silva wanted to create a Goodison Park Fortress. Remember, two weeks ago Damon posted a podcast on Everton and their nickname, The Toffees.
  2. Example: Emery has turned Villa Park into a fortress (Reuters, October 27 2023). So, this headline from Reuters explains how the Spanish manager of Aston Villa Unai Emery has made the home stadium of Villa Park a really, really difficult place to win at. In fact, Villa have an amazing unbeaten record there that stretches back over ten games.
  3. He wants Goodison Park to be ‘a fortress ‘ after his side’s fifth straight win.


Don’t forget that you can find out more about the word ‘fortress‘ and hundreds more football-language phrases by coming along to our football-language glossary here at


Football Language Glossary

Stinger: You are listening to (a fan from the Netherlands).


DF: OK, if you have any questions or comments then drop us an email at and you can also look out for us on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram, while we will be posting some material on our new YouTube page…more or less every week – so come along and say hello. We also have a football-language forum where you can ask and answer any questions you have on the language of football.  And recently we have had questions around the phrases ‘be equal to’; ‘Steady the ship‘ and ‘an emphatic finish’ – I love that phrase, an emphatic finish’. Take a look at these posts, do some of the quizzes that are there, add a comment or a question or simply say hi!

Stinger: You are listening to (in French).


DF: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster and that message was from a French football fan. Don’t forget there’s a transcript for this short podcast with lots of vocabulary support. If you look at the posts on our site you can see that we explain lots of the meanings of these words in the transcript, so just come along and have a look!

OK, that’s it for this podcast in which we looked at the word ‘fortress‘ which of course means a stadium where the home team rarely loses. Let us know if you hear any of the phrases or language that we’ve used on today’s show – in any language of course. And don’t forget to look out for our predictions on our forum and enjoy all of the football this weekend. We’ll see you again soon when we’ll be looking at more football language. Bye bye!

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FEpisode 9