Foreign Words in English FootballOn this week’s listening report for learners of English we take a look at some of the loan words from other languages that are used in English football. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link and can read the transcript of the report (below), where you will also find explanations of key vocabulary (in bold). If you have any questions, suggestions or comments then please email us at:

Foreign Words in English Football

If you heard that someone had scored with a rabona while playing in the Superclásico or that Barca had recorded a manita over their rivals in La Liga would you know what was meant? In recent years an increasing number of words and phrases have been introduced into the English football language as the game becomes even more globalised.

A rabona has been in the news this week after Spurs player Erik Lamela scored with one against a Greek side in the Europa League – though interestingly other Spanish words such as túnel and caño (nutmeg) or ‘chilena’ (a bicycle kick) have not made the same crossover. Many of the loan words used in English football describe leagues in different countries, for example, La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy and Ligue 1 in France, while most fans are aware of Apertura and Clausura to describe the two league systems played in the same year in South America – though to be honest I am never sure when each of them takes place!

Foreign nicknames are also fairly common now in English football – most people know who the Azzurri are (The Italian national side is named after the colour blue of their jerseys) but are probably not too sure about ‘La Roja’ which is a recent term coined for the Spanish national side. Talking of Spain, the ‘clasico‘ refers, of course, to the big game between Barcelona and Real Madrid while (el) Superclásico is the biggest derby in Argentina between River Plate and Boca Juniors.

There are other words with a longer history such as ‘nil‘ which originates from Latin and means no score in football but do you know of any other foreign words that are used in English football? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here If you have any suggestions, contact us at Featured Image: Kieran Clarke / CC BY (
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