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Stop me if you've heard this one before: here are our 30 favourite soccer clichés

Don’t you just hate it when a commentator utters a phrase you’ve heard a zillion times before? Well, here’s some of the worst offenders for your sins.

Eamon Dunphy: a good a pundit, not a great pundit.
Eamon Dunphy: a good a pundit, not a great pundit.

EARLIER THIS WEEK, Harry Redknapp said the immortal words in which he described Luka Modric as a “top, top player”.

Perhaps this was a sly nod in the direction of his son Jamie – a veritable quote machine when it comes to sports clichés. Or perhaps Redknapp simply doesn’t have a very extensive vocabulary.

Either way, it is not the first nor the last sports cliché that will ever be uttered. Here’s 30 more…

General Clichés:

  • “He’s not that sort of player” – A phrase usually spoken after a player has committed a horrific leg-breaking tackle, and was perhaps most famously uttered in defence of Ryan Shawcross after he came close to destroying Aaron Ramsey, despite the fact that he had committed another horrific tackle only months previously.
  • “On that magical night in Istanbul” – Or Paris, or Milan, or wherever. Any location in which a vaguely memorable result once took place, essentially.
  • “Teams are always at their most vulnerable when they’ve just scored” – Despite it not being supported by statistics, commentators can’t help but utter this supposed truism quite regularly.
  • “Never write off the Germans” – In fact, German sports stars could have their own sub-column of clichés relating specifically to their stereotypical characteristics, with references to “efficiency” aplenty.
  • “There are no weak teams in international football nowadays” – usually said by people who’ve never heard of San Marino, American Samoa, or Montserrat.
  • “I thought the fans were absolutely fantastic today” – Generally said when a manager has run out of salient points to make, and oddly considers people standing up and making noise to be an integral part of his side’s performance.
  • “Your Barcelonas and your Real Madrids of this world” – Generally said when the commentator has a limited knowledge of football outside of the Premier League and assumes there are only two other good club sides in the world.
  • “The team is more important than any individual performances” – Generally said when a player has patently done more than anyone else in his side to earn them a victory.
  • “I didn’t move here for the money” – According to every interview in the history of football, money has never been a motivating factor in a player’s decision to move clubs. It’s purely by coincidence that all the top players play for the richest clubs.
  • “That just about sums up their game today” – Usually said when a mistake is made by a player on the losing team towards the end of the match and the commentator has a proclivity for lazy generalisations.


  • “He’s lost the dressing room” – Translation: The manager is utterly hopeless and players can no longer be bothered listening to his nonsensical ramblings.
  • “I think it’s time to give the younger players a chance” – Translation: The player can’t be bother playing international football/rugby anymore, or they’re simply not good enough to get into the first team.
  • “Player x has a reputation for indulging in the darker arts” – Translation: Player x has a reputation for cheating
  • “Despite his limited technical ability, player x always gives 110%” – Translation: I’ve no absolutely no idea how player x ever became a footballer.
  • “Player x is a great role model for the game” – Translation: Player x has yet to engage in any drug-taking, extra-marital affairs or dwarf-throwing to the best of our knowledge.
  • “Player x will be disappointed with that” – Player x has made a right cock up.
  • “They’re a good physical side” – Translation: They’re hopeless on the ball. This sentiment also normally applies to teams with “a British style of play”.
  • “He’s got a great touch for a big man” – Translation: He has a poor touch for a footballer.
  • “I’m a (insert relevant team name here) player through and through” – Translation: There’s no way I’m staying at this club unless they double my wages at the very least.
  • “He used his intelligence there” – Translation: He dived.

Individual Specials:

  • At the end of the day…” – Usually said when David O’Leary is being interviewed.
  • “Possibly so” – Usually said when Kenny “commitment-phobe” Cunningham is on the panel.
  • “You’ve got to take each game on its merits” – Usually said when John Giles is rebuking Billo for getting ahead of himself.
  • “I know I’m repeating myself” – Usually said when Gilesy is about to repeat himself.
  • “Pace, movement and desire” – Usually said when Alan Hansen reaches for adjectives.
  • “As (an obscure reference to an archaic author/book) says” – Usually said when George Hook is trying to show off how well-read he is.
  • “Literally” – usually said when Jamie Redknapp fails to understand the meaning of the word ‘literally’.
  • “Take a bow son” – usually said when Andy Gray is not being sexist.
  • “Danger here!” – usually said by George Hamilton when Ireland are about to concede a goal.
  • “Rubbish!” – usually said when Eamon Dunphy disagrees with a perfectly reasonable point.

And the one thing managers/footballers will never say: “I thought the referee played a blinder today and deserves no blame whatsoever for our loss.”

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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