SAINT PETERSBURG, June 14 — Mario Goetze is an “eternal talent” who was left out of Germany’s World Cup squad and Tony Adams is an Arsenal legend but he was still derided as “a donkey” in England.
Hundreds of millions of football fans across the globe will be screaming encouragement — and a fair amount of abuse — at their television screens during the World Cup in Russia.
Whether in English, German, French, Russian, or even Korean, football’s vernacular is full of colourful phrases and terms.
But while some need no explaining, there are many others that make little or no sense to outsiders.
Anyone for a “Bananenflanke”?
No, it’s not a tasty Bavarian dessert. Rather, it translates as a “banana cross” — the type of delivery from the wing that tempts the goalkeeper as it bends deliciously in the air.
And that “eternal” description of the Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Goetze?
“Ewiges talent” might sound flattering, but it isn’t — it is used for players such as the 26-year-old who showed great promise but failed to turn into a real star.
Adams, the Arsenal stalwart and England international who retired in 2002, was a central defender who drew admirers for his no-nonsense approach.
But a cultured footballer he was not and at one low point in his career he was serenaded with screeches of “Eeyore” from opposing fans and branded a donkey, a word still used to criticise players in England deemed lacking finesse.
French has a whole gamut of slang words for poor players — “brele”, “truffe” and “trompette”.
And in France, bad players are also goats. In Brazil they are said to have wooden legs. In Korean they are dismissed as dog food.
Russians dismiss underperforming or lazy players as trees.
Many more words from a whole load of languages are too rude to print.
It is these trees, donkeys and goats who will likely be responsible for poor passes — “a hospital ball” for the English or “a pneumonia pass” in Polish.
On a similar theme, German football phraseology has the horrifically sounding “Blutgraetsche”, or blood tackle, the brutal type sometimes deployed by Adams and likely to end in injury.
And sticking with the English, “parking the bus” has become a popular phrase in the past decade or so to describe sides who opt for all-out defence.
In that case, it is unlikely there will be attackers frequently caught off-side — or “na banheira” (in the bathtub) as they say in Brazil.
Let’s just hope that at the World Cup in Russia there are more “screamers” (English), “fallrueckzieher” (German) and the odd French “patate” — literally a potato but meaning a long and powerful effort.
Either way, one thing is for sure: There are going to be plenty of heart-stopping moments.
It’s “squeaky-bum time”. — AFP