For this week’s English for football phrase we explain the term, ‘the spine’. Find out more about this phrase by reading the transcript below and listening to the audio.You can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.

Spine

The word spine is usually combined with team to give the phrase ‘the spine of the team‘. The spine is the line of bones in the centre of your back, connecting the head to the lower back. It holds important nerves, and is sometimes called the backbone. The spine of a team refers to the key players in a team: the core. The spine of a team usually includes the goalkeeper, one or more defenders and midfielders, and sometimes a striker, too. The players are usually experienced as well as talented. Many people believe that a team needs a ‘spine‘ to be successful; it needs a collection of experienced, skillful, regular players.

  • Example: (Headline) Man City Pay Heavy Price for lack of Spine. (Text) “The absence of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero cost Manchester City dear as they blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to struggling Burnley on Sunday.” (Euro Sport, 2014)
  • Example: Arsenal need a completely new spine to their team to match Premier League champions Chelsea next season. (Sky Sports, 2015)
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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 GlossaryEpisode 582