To really get to grips with this sport, there are a few terms you’ll need to understand.
From the players themselves to what’s what on the pitch, we’ve put together a list of terms to help you get clued up.
Assistant referee: Either of the two flag-waving officials placed along the side lines of the pitch, formerly known as the linesmen. Their main job is to notify the referee when the ball goes out play and when a player is offside.
Attacker: Player whose position is in attack (closest member of his/her team to the opposing goal line). Their main responsibility is to score goals. Also known as a forward or a striker.
Back four: A line of four defenders; usually the members of the team positioned closest to the goalkeeper.
Brace: The scoring of two goals by one player.
Booking: The issuing of a yellow card by a referee for a foul; called a booking because the referee writes a player’s number and name in his notebook after giving a card. Two bookings result in a sending off (red card).
Byline: The white line between a goalpost and a corner flag.
Captain: The leader of a team. Otherwise known as the skipper.
A corner: A kick from the corner flag awarded to the attacking team when the ball has passed the by-line, having being touched by a player from the defending team.
Defender: An outfield player whose task it is to prevent the other team from scoring (to defend the goal).
Draw: An even score at the end of a match.
Equaliser: A goal scored which brings the scores level at any point in the match.
Extra time: A further period of play added on to a match if the scores are equal at full-time and a draw is not an option, for example, in the final match of a tournament. Extra time usually lasts for 30 minutes (two halves of 15 minutes each).
Foul: An unfair action by any player. This usually involves interference with an opponent, although a hand-ball also counts a foul.
Full time: The point after which the allocated time for a match (usually 90 minutes) has passed and the referee blows the final whistle.
Goalkeeper/goalie: A single player whose role is to stop the ball from going into their own goal.
Half-time: The time at which half of a match is complete (usually at 45 minutes). This is marked by an interval of 15 minutes.
Hat-trick: When one player scores three goals in one game.
Header: Occurs when a player touches and guides the ball with his or her head.
Manager: The person responsible for running a football team. Their duties include picking the team, deciding tactics and choosing which players to buy and sell.
Midfielder: A player who is positioned in the middle of the pitch. A midfielder usually has both defensive and attacking duties, however, some managers will choose to have midfielders in a specific position.
Offside: A position which is not allowed by the rules of the game. This occurs when a player is closer to the opposing team’s goal area than the last defender when the ball is kicked.
Offside trap: A tactical move by defending players to catch an opponent offside.
Own goal: A goal scored accidentally by a player which counts in favour of the opposing team.
Penalty area (penalty box): The rectangular box in front of the goal. This is 18 yards deep and 44 yards wide.
Penalty kick: A kick at the goal from the penalty spot (which only the goalkeeper is allowed to defend). This is awarded to the attacking team after a foul within the penalty area by any member of the opposing team.
Penalty shootout: A method of deciding the winning team in a match that would otherwise have ended in a draw. Used primarily in the knockout stages of various cup competitions e.g. the FA Cup.
Red Card: The referee shows this to a player for committing a bad foul, or for receiving two bookings (yellow cards).
Referee: The main official who is positioned on the pitch and follows the events in the match closely. Their job is to ensure that the players follow the rules.
Substitute: A player named as eligible to replace another during a match. In the English Premier League, a team can name seven substitutes but field a total of three.
Throw-in: The ball is thrown from the side-line by a player after the ball has gone out of play. This is the only time a player can touch the ball with their hands without committing a foul.
Yellow card: A card shown to a player who has just been booked (see “Booking”).