football talk 1

The best thing about watching international level football (soccer, to Americans, aka Association football, aka The Beautiful Game) is catching a game being covered by the old school British commentators. These guys have seen thousands of games in person and studied thousands more, and there isn’t much they don’t know about football and its history.  But best of all, they have a real way with words. If you want to hear sharp and creative English usage, listen to these guys.

There are two styles of British commentator Football Talk, the flowery and the tight and crisp.  This week I watched two games in the ongoing Euro ’16 tournament and collected excellent examples of both.

First, the flowery, from Spain vs. Italy in the round of 16.

  • During the opening, one commentator recalled an earlier meeting between the two sides “when (Player X) rearranged (Player Y)’s nose in that ill-tempered World Cup game in Foxboro in 1994.”
  • It was noted that Giorgio Chiellini, long time defensive star for Italy, “has been described as having a facial profile like a roadmap of the Amalfi Coast.”  I suspect you were the one who did the describing, dude.
  • “Aspiring students of the dark art of football defending” would benefit from studying this game.
  • “There’s another yellow card being brandished; it’s for an angry Spaniard.”
  • And a final question: “Can Italy graduate with honor at the end of a tactical master class?”

The answer to that would be yes. The final score: Italy 2, Spain nil.  Chiellini of the craggy profile scored one of those goals, his seventh in international competition. Italy faces Germany in the quarterfinals on Saturday.


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