This week’s English for football phrase is the expression, which is becoming a bit of a cliche, ‘unplayable‘. You can understand more about this phrase by reading the transcript below. You can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here. This post also features in our podcast show, along with a main report and our weekly predictions.


The verb ‘play‘ is an essential word in football – I’m playing football tomorrow, the two teams played for a draw, the World Cup will be played in Brazil etc. The verb also gives us the noun, ‘player‘ – She’s a good player, He was the best player on the pitch and so on. We also derive the adjective ‘unplayable‘ from this core word. Un’ is a prefix, which means ‘not’, ‘the opposite of’ and ‘able‘ is the suffix meaning ‘can’. When we put the three elements together – un – play – able it literally means can’t play. If a player is unplayable it means they are so good that it is impossible for the opposition to tackle him or her, or stop them from scoring. In a mid-week game in the Premier League, Luis Suarez scored four goals and created another, he was unplayable. Unplayable

Another example when this word is used in football is when a pitch cannot be used because it is in a bad condition, maybe it is waterlogged, frozen or covered in snow, and it is unplayable.

Example: Adama Traore: How the winger went from unreliable at Barcelona to unplayable at Wolves (, 14 February 2020)

Example: Rotherham v Cardiff City postponed one hour before kick-off as snow makes pitch unplayable (Wales Online January 2 2021)

Find  more football phrases by visiting our huge glossary page, where you can find hundreds of words, phrases and cliches connected to the world of football. If there is a phrase you need explaining send us a comment or email and we will try to explain it for you.

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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 119