In this short podcast on the language of football, we talk about a football cliche used to describe a player’s actions. The phrase is ‘saw their name in lights’. Check out the transcript of the show below. You also make sure you check out our huge glossary of footballing phrases here and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. Teachers of English can use the audio and transcript to provide practice for their students, too. Try a gap-fill activity for example. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

Learn English Through Football: Saw Their Name in Lights

Name in LightsDB: Hi there and welcome to This is the website and podcast for all those interested in the language of football and in learning English. My name’s Damon and I’m based in a beautiful sunny Tokyo today. Spring is right round the corner!

Damian, based in London, will have a spring in his step I imagine after his team Tottenham beat London rivals, Chelsea, 2-0. I am sure he is very happy with that result. Check out his latest podcast, on the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup Final, and the phrase ‘open the scoring‘. And well done to Madrid on more silverware for their trophy!

OK, the phrase we will focus on today is a cliche, and it is usually used to describe a situation when a player has a chance to do something great but fails.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Italian)

Saw Their Name in Lights

DB: Yes, you are listening to, and that message was in Italian. If you’d like to hear ‘You are listening to‘ in your language, just record it and send the audio to

So, the phrase see your name in lights is what we will focus on today, and it means to be famous and successful. The lights refers to the signs on theatres advertising the latest big shows. The title of the show or movie is surrounded by bright lights. Usually, it will have the names of famous actors, too. So if someone says, your name is in lights, it compares you to a famous actor who has his or her name on the front of a famous theatre.

In football, it is used very often when a player attempts a spectacular shot. Perhaps they are 25-30 yards from goal, or they try an overhead kick from far out. If they score, it will be a fantastic goal, and they will be the player of the match, the talking point for fans and journalists.

99 times out of a 100 these spectacular attempts fail, and the shot misses the goal completely. In this situation you may hear the commentator say, ‘He saw his name in lights there‘ or ‘She saw her name in lights, didn’t she!‘ The inference is they should have done something more sensible and the missed shot was quite funny.

Here is an example from the BBC of how this cliche is used:

Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino “saw his name in lights” in front of the Kop when he missed a glorious late chance against Arsenal, according to Everton Women and England forward Izzy Christiansen.

The Reds toiled against the resolute 10 men of Arsenal but Minamino had the perfect opportunity to win the game, only to blaze over from seven yards.

Embed from Getty Images

Minamino after he saw his name in lights but blazed over the crossbar

(to) Blaze Over

As we can see from that example, there are two aspects to this phrase – the chance to do something great (in this example, win the game for Liverpool) and to fail. In the BBC report Minamino blazes over. To blaze over means to hit the ball hard but to miss. It implies a lack of control, or a wild attempt.

(a) Rush of Blood

A player might blaze over when they have a rush of blood, which is another phrase used in situations where a player sees their name in lights. A rush of blood is when a player has too much adrenalin or is too excited. They fail to keep control and play calmly. They do something wild. Often the thought of doing something spectacular, of seeing your name in lights, makes people lose control. They then have a rush of blood, and they shoot wildly, and blaze over the bar.

Stinger: You are listening to (Cantonese)


DB: Yes, you are listening to and that message was in Cantonese. OK, we looked three phrases today, including a rush of blood and to blaze over. But mainly we focused on the cliche to see your name in lights, when you imagine scoring a great goal and being the star of the game.

Contact us if you want to ask any football-language questions, have comments, or simply want to say hello at or by using our forum at Make sure you look out for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Follow and retweet, etc. Spread the word!


DB: OK, look out for our next podcast by subscribing – just search for us on your podcast platform. Enjoy all of the football and we’ll be back soon! 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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Football ClichesEpisode 209