Football idioms

Football (or soccer for our non-British readers) is so popular in the UK that words and phrases associated with the game have made their way into popular speech. Many consider England the home of football; the origins of the game can be traced back to 1963, when The Football Association (The FA) was set up here. In that same year, the rules that we know and play by today were created. 


Whether you’re a huge fan, or have no interest at all – it’s hard to completely avoid any football related slang or idioms. If you aren’t familiar with the term; an idiom is a commonly used expression that does not relate to the literal meaning of its words. There are many football idioms you can start to familiarise yourself with. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular phrases for you to learn.


To keep one’s eye on the ball

To give your complete attention to a particular activity or environment.

E.g. “Keep your eye on the ball if you want to succeed at work.”


To move the goalposts

To unfairly change the rules or conditions of a process during its course.

E.g. “I’m quitting if they keep moving the goalposts in regards to my promotion!”


To get the ball rolling

To start something off.

E.g. “I need £100,000 to get the ball rolling on my new business project.”


To score an own goal

To unintentionally harm your own interests.

E.g. “Sarah really scored an own goal by not applying to that job.”


To know the score

To be aware of the essential facts of a situation.

E.g. “I don’t have to explain my problem to her, she knows the score.”


To be on the ball

To be alert and aware of what is going on around you.

E.g. “I have so much energy, I feel really on the ball today.”


To get a kick out of something

To enjoy an activity or event very much.

E.g. “He gets a kick out of cycling on the motorway.”


A game changer

A new idea or event that creates a significant shift to the current way of doing or thinking about something.

E.g. “The new funding will be a game changer for us.”


A game plan

A planned strategy.

E.g. “Have a game plan ready before you go into the meeting.”


A political football

An issue that is the subject of controversy or continued disagreement.

E.g. “The amount of holiday days we are given is a political football at work.”


We hope you learn some new football related idioms and can add them to your day-to-day vocabulary. If you’re interested in learning about the jargon used in tennis, please take a look at our previous blog post.

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