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13 German football phrases we need to start using in English

We've picked out some of the best phrases our German friends use to describe the beautiful game

For many English fans, it’s unfortunate that Germany have become a superior footballing nation over the past 20 years.

So much so that we’re now living through a period of acceptance that the Germans are far better than the Three Lions, so perhaps it’s about time we weren’t just inspired by them on the pitch, but also in the language we use to describe the game.

With the arrival of Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, we’ve learnt all about gegenpressing’s merits (and recently deep flaws), but what about the rest?

We’ve picked out some of the best phrases our German friends use to describe the beautiful game.

1 Bananenflanke

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A truly brilliant phrase. A bananenflanke is used to describe a curvy cross, literally a ‘cross shaped like a banana’.

Hamburg legend Manfred Kaltz was one of the kings of the bananenflanke, but if you need a slightly more contemporary reference you could use David Beckham.

2 Turniermannschaft

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Literally translated as a ‘tournament squad’, the turniermannschaft is how Germans describe their own national team – a bit shoddy in qualification, but know how to bring the goods in major tournaments.

England are basically the anti-turniermannschaft, if that makes it easier to understand.

3 Gedächtnisgrätsche

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A gedächtnisgrätsche is a word used to describe a tackle that reminds fans of the good old days, when men were men and tackles were tackles.

When we say ‘tackles were tackles’, we mean nasty, brutal, genuinely dangerous ones, of course. Someone like Jürgen Kohler is often associated with gedächtnisgrätsche, but definitely not Franz Beckbenbauer, as he was too good for that sort of stuff.

4 Das Runde muss ins Eckige

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Who said Germans don’t have a sense of humour? “Das Runde muss ins Eckige” is a properly sarcastic phrase used by fans, players and managers and simply means ‘The round thing must go in the rectangular thing’.

Essentially, the ball must go in the goal. It’s a simple game, after all.

5 Abseits ist, wenn der Schiedsrichter pfeift

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This is a Beckenbauer classic. The legendary German defender once said the phrase, which means ‘It is offside when the referee blows his whistle’, essentially taking the responsibility away from the referee to make the correct call, as defenders should be doing their job properly regardless of whether or not they get the call right.

It’s a classy thing that players and managers often say after the game, if there has been a contentious decision.

Talking of post-match interviews…

6 Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel

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“After the game is before the game”.

You need more explanation? Of course you do. Essentially it means that once one game has finished, the preparation for the next one has already begun.

As soon as a player steps off the pitch in one game, so they look forward to the following fixture.

Sounds a bit better than ‘Well yeah moving onto the next one, Clive’, doesn’t it?

7 Sechspunktespiel 

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A classic six-pointer would be so much better if Sam Allardyce came out and just yelled ‘WE’VE GOT A HUGE SECHSPUNKTESPEIL TODAY LADS’.

8 Wembley Tor

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The first in the ‘tor’ genre, it would be helpful to know at this stage that ‘tor’ means ‘goal’ in German.

So what d you think a ‘Wembley tor’ could possibly make reference to?

Yes, that’s right – the 1966 World Cup final. A Wembley Tor is essentially a goal that is contentious about whether on to it crossed the line, like Geoff Hurst’s for England in the glorious 4-2 victory.

Annoyingly for us, Germany have had the most recent major example of this, as the Wembley Tor was briefly dubbed a Bloemfontein Tor after Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against the Germans in the 2010 World Cup

9 Eigentor

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An own goal, but the commentator saying EIGENTOOOOOR sounds much more dramatic than John Motson saying “Oh I say! He’s put the ball into his own net!”.

10 Traumtor

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We desperately need a word that describes the feeling of striking a ball into the top corner from 30 yards.

We’ve sort of stolen ‘golazo’ in recent years, while ‘worldie’ has also had a look in, but a ‘traumtor’ would be an excellent word for us to describe a superb goal, don’t you think?

11 Transferhammer

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Now this is a beauty – a transferhammer is a big bit of breaking transfer news. Newspapers will often say a huge transfer story is a TRANSFERHAMMER, but it has to be some sensational news to warrant it.

David Luiz back to Chelsea is a transferhammer… Robert Snodgrass to West Ham less so.

12 Fahrstuhlmannschaft

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How do you pithily describe a club like West Brom, a ‘yo-yo club’ who go up and down divisions willy-nilly?

That’s right, call them a Fahrstuhlmannschaft, literally translated as an ‘elevator club’.

13 Hexenkessel

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Everyone knows the atmosphere in German stadiums can be fierce – and this effectively sums up that feeling in a word.

The hexenkessel, literally translated as a witch’s cauldron, brings to life the intimidating atmosphere fans can produce throughout their fixtures.

Any more that we’ve missed or you’d like to see added? Contact us on Facebook or Twitter.


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