For this week’s football language podcast we look at the adjective ‘leggy‘, which is often used to describe a player’s fitness or performance. Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here, and visit our site to access all the previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. (DB=Damon)
Learn English Through Football Podcast: Leggy
DB: Hi everyone, this is Damon, one part of the Learning English Through Football team here at languagecaster.com. Thanks for listening and I hope everyone is well and safe wherever they are in the world. Now, today, I am going to be focusing on an adjective used in football to talk about players and their performance in a game. The word is ‘leggy‘. You may hear this phrase towards the end of the season or towards the end of a very intense, action-packed, match.
Before we get into the details, here is a message from one languagecaster supporter from India.
Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Hindi).
DB: Thank you for that message in Hindi. Now, let’s turn towards the word leggy and its meaning. First of all, it comes from the noun ‘leg’, and of course legs are important in the game of FOOTball. No legs; no game could be a slogan!
Now, leggy back a few hundred years ago in the 18th century, meant having long legs, and was used, for example, to talk about horses. it was often negative, so a leggy horse – a horse with long legs – was not expected to be a good racing horse: perhaps their running style would not be smooth, they would be ungainly. And this negative feeling about the word has been kept when we use it in football. When you say a player is leggy, or she looks a bit leggy on the pitch, you mean they look tired. The player is not running very fast, they lack energy, and maybe the fans can see they are running in an unnatural way.
When do you use ‘leggy’?
So, as we said at the beginning of the show, you may hear this phrase to describe players at the end of the season – the team looked a bit leggy – because they have had a long, hard, exhausting season and now they are tired. You may also hear it at the end of a long, hard game, when a player is particularly tired.
Examples of ‘Leggy’
DB: Let’s take a look at some real examples. Here is one talking about a team at the end of the season at sport.yahoo.com:
- Example: ‘Trevor Sinclair believes that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s football philosophy of football played at high intensity is causing some of his Liverpool players to look leggy as they try to hold off Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur for the Premier League title.’ – This comment shows the pundit believes that Liverpool have had a very tough season, this was in 2019 – and are very tired and finding it hard to keep playing at 100%.
And here’s is one talking about a single player towards the end of the season. This time in The Athletic online.
- Example: ‘Is it any wonder Bruno Fernandes is beginning to look leggy?’ – This headline is saying that Fernandes has been playing at a high intensity for a long time, so it’s natural that he looks tired.
You can see in both examples that ‘look’ is used – to look leggy.
DB: What about some other phrases that can mean, look tired. Well, ‘out on his/her feet‘ is one. I’m guessing that this is borrowed from boxing. If a boxer, or football player, is ‘out on their feet‘ they cannot move, they can only stand. You might hear this if a game goes into extra time and players are suffering from cramp and exhaustion.
Then of course, there is the cliche ‘to leave everything on the pitch‘ – A player has given all their effort and energy to the game; they have tried their best, and now, they are out on their feet, exhausted. Read more about this and other phrase by checking out our glossary at languagecaster.com
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And that brings us to the end of this short podcast. Let us know if you have any football phrases you think we should share or if you have any questions about the language of football. We’ll have more football phrases to talk about in our next podcast. Enjoy all the football this week. Ta-ra!