Football-speak around the world – Dundee United, Chocoladebeen, great big cucumber?

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It’s called the universal language but would football fans in Scotland have a clue what Spaniards are saying when they describe a player as a “great big cucumber”? or a Nigerian saying “Dundee United”?
Nigeria
Dundee United
In parts of Nigeria where the Yoruba is spoken Dundee United is a synonym for “idiot”. It’s thought to stem from United’s disastrous tour of Nigeria in 1972 when they won only one of five games and were beaten by teams including Stationery Stores FC and Kaduna Bees.
Israel
Birthuz – Barthez
Fabian Barthez may have ended his career as world and European champion but Israeli followers of English football haven’t forgotten some erratic performances at Manchester United. In the local football terminology, the Frenchman’s name is still used as shorthand for a goalkeeping blunder.
Argentina
Papa
In Argentian fandom, to get the better of a rival is to become their papa.
Brazil
Drible de vaca – cow dribble
The skill employed by a player who knocks the ball past an opponent on one side and collects it on the other. It may have come from matches played on scrubland, where encountering livestock was an occupational hazard.
Paraguay
Gol queso – cheese goal
Paraguay’s national cheese is creamy and liable to melt in the sun. When a team concedes a soft goal. It’s known as “cheese goal”.
Venezuela
Cabeza de dimple – dimple header
Dimple is a blended Scotch whiskey sold in a distinctive, oval-shaped bottle that is popular in Venezuela. A miscued header that sends the ball looping in an unexpected direction is known as a Cabeza de dimple – the idea being it’s as if the ball has bounced off one of the rounded shoulders of a Dimple bottle.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Costa Rica
Caballo – horse
A physically imposing player prone to dolling out painful kicks.
El Salvador
Culebrita – little snake
A name for the elastico trick. In El Salvador, it’s associated with Jorge “Magico” Gonzalez, one of their greatest players. He was able to perform the manoeuvre at high speed, right to left and left to right.
Republic of Ireland
Duffer
A big, hopeless player. A selfish player is a glorier, while a goal hanger is a snatcher.
Belgium
Pisballetje – pee shot
Belgians are not squeamish about the urinary process. A dribble attempt that doesn’t find it’s target is known as pisballetje.
Denmark
Kattepote – cat’s paw
Players with velvet technique – such as the Laudrup brothers, Michael and Brian.

England
Squeaky bum time
Used by Sir Alex Ferguson and refers to the nervous final weeks of a title run-in and the sound made by someone shifting around in a plastic seat while watching a tense match.

France
Cafe creme – coffee with cream
A top-drawer piece of skill which leaves one. two or even three opponents floundering.
Germany
Wembley-Tor – Wembley goal
Dubious goals, in honour of England’s third in their 4-2 win over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final.
Netherlands
Chocoladebeen – chocolate leg
A player who plays a pass or attempts a shot using his weaker foot.
Kaaskijers – cheese-watchers
Fans who watch their team passively without actively supporting them. Coined by former AZ Alkmaar managed by Co Adriaanse during his time in the cheese-producing city.
Spain
Vaya pepinazo – what a great big cucumber
To express delight at a particularly impressive curling, long-range shot.
Do you speak football? A Glossary of Football Words and Phrases from Around the World, published by Bloomsbury is available for pre-order now priced at £12.99.

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