Pies’ Top 10 Favourite German Football Phrases

Chris Wright

5th, February 2014


By Chris Wright

No explanation needed we hope; this one does exactly what it says on the tin…

Germany Soccer Cup

10. Schwalbe: Literally translates as “swallow” and used to mean a deliberate dive complete with arched back, spread wings, tucked legs, double pike and a twist.

Germany Soccer Bundesliga

9. Eigentor: We know it’s no less literal that its English equivalent, ‘own goal’, but it all sounds so much more stark and solitary in the German vernacular.

Germany Soccer Europa League

8. Fallrückzieher/Flugkopfball: Translate in typically literal German fashion as “falling back execution” and “flying head ball” – or ‘bicycle kick’ and ‘diving header’ as we might have it.

Germany Bundesliga Soccer

7. Anschlusstreffer: Or ‘Prequaliser’ once Anglicised – an optimistic term used when a team pulls one back after being two goals down, as in: ‘the prequel to the equaliser’ (thanks to football parlance guru @FootballCliches for the tip-off).

Germany Soccer Cup

6. Ampelkarte: A ‘traffic light’ card, i.e, a second yellow followed by a red.

5. Bombenschuss/Sonntagsschuss: As ably demonstrated by Ritchie De Laet above, the phrase is used to denote a difficult or flukey shot from long distance which, if you’re lucky, may well result in a…

4. Traumtor: Meaning ‘wonder goal’; the German equivalent of ‘golazo’ and a wonderful word to yell while rattling a 30-yard beauty into the carpark for your Sunday League team.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Semi Final - First Leg - Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid - Signal Iduna Park

3. Hexenkessel: “Witches cauldron”, and used a term for an intimidating stadium atmosphere.

Soccer - FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group C - Germany v Republic of Ireland - Rhein Energie Stadion

2. Raumdeuter: Means ‘space interpreter’ and is usually used as a nickname for Thomas Muller (seen above, pulling off a textbook ‘flugkopfball‘) as he’s a dab hand at finding himself a pocket to work in.

Soccer - FIFA World Cup England 66 - Final - England v West Germany - Wembley Stadium

1. Wembley-Tor: Translates, as you may have guessed, as ‘Wembley goal’ and used to denote a dubious goal in reference to Geoff Hurst’s goalline-tickling third against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final.

Honorary mentions…

‘Doppelpass’: A quick one-two.

‘Viererpack’: When a player scores four goal in one game.

‘Joker’: Goalscoring super sub.

‘Elfmeter’: Lovely word for a penalty kick.

‘Arschkarte’:  Translates as ‘arse card’ – according to urban legend, it’s a term formerly used for the red card. Since yellow and red cards couldn’t be distinguised on black-and-white televisions, the yellow card was held in the referee’s chest pocket while the red was always ‘pulled from his backside’ (via @hansolofsven).

Any more German crackers you’ve picked up along the way? Feel free to share ’em down below…

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  1. My favourite German football phrase is ‘Transferhammer’, which roughly translates as ‘Big transfer story’. It sounds almost Wagnerian…

    Often found in newspaper headlines, e.g. “Mario Goetze zu Bayern: Transfer-hammer!”.

  2. Jez says:

    That there be Ritchie De Laet, not Darren Fletcher

  3. Rory says:

    What about Kraftwürfel (powercube)? The nickname for Bayern’s stocky dynamo, Shaqiri.

  4. Der grösste Stinkstiefel – “the biggest stinky boots”
    An award that Bild gave for a couple of seasons to the most unpopular player in the Bundesliga

  5. Rob says:

    That’s Ritchie De Laet not Darren Fletcher!!


  6. Chris says:

    @Rob and Jez: Damn my infernal crab eyes! Changed now.

    @Sam: Bet that would look wonderful sitting on your mantelpiece!

  7. Christian says:

    Number seven must be “Anschlusstreffer” instead of “Prequaliser”.

  8. Humph says:

    Blutgrätsche – a dangerous sliding tackle

    Greetings from Hamburg!

  9. Christian says:

    Great list anyway. It makes you think how stupid some of these terms actually are.

  10. Bernd says:

    I’m gonna go with Abstiegsgespenst, the “relegation ghost” that haunts failing teams.

    “Fahrstuhlmannschaft” is also pretty inspiring – the yo-yo team in German becomes an “elevator team”.

  11. cj herrera says:

    For me, there is one and only one German football phrase that will forever be shouting in my brain: “SCHWEINSTEIGER!!”

    Sure, not technically a phrase.
    But you know you want to shout it with me. “SCHWEINSTEIGER!!!”

  12. Foran44 says:

    @cj herrera

    Haha, exactly! When ever i watch the German national team play I’m constantly rhythmically saying Schweinsteiger, Mertasacker and Muller (but with the umlaut really pronounced)

    Germans have the best names in football!

  13. MJ says:

    “Fliegenfänger” – a goalkeeper struggling with crosses and high balls. Also “Gurkerl”, an Austrian term for a nutmeg.

  14. Gattsu says:

    I may be thinking a bit too literal here but does a rough translation of “Schweinsteiger” into english result in “Pig Farmer”?

    If so, it loses a bit of prestige.

  15. Sizzlington says:

    Interestingly, it was Muller who called himself a Raumdeuter first. After this breakthrough in football-lingo, thankful football writers everywhere pounced on it and now its part of the German football vocabulary.


  16. Tony says:

    “Traumtor” literally translates to “dream goal” traum=dream

  17. sonofmarc says:


  18. The psychologist says:

    “Bananenflanke”!! A swirling cross!

  19. the kraut says:

    “Schweinsteiger” literally translates “pig climber”

    • Christoph Kohls says:

      Sombedy translated the name Schweinsteiger as pig climber. This translation is not correct. Most people, even if their mother language is German do not know that a Steige is the old German word for Stall (English = stable). Compare it with the word Absteige = flosshouse, flophouse, cheap hotel So Schweinsteiger means pig stable.

  20. carl says:

    This is great. More of this type of stuff. Prequaliser and arsecard are my favourites.

  21. Michi says:

    A Good one is also “Diagonalball” it means a Transfer ball from left back field to right side forward..the players call it Diago. haha

  22. Petrovsky KSC says:

    Chancentod – Striker who lost his ability to score

    Motzki – Former nickname of mathias sammer. generally refers to players arguing with anybody on and off the pitch nowadays.

  23. Paull says:

    As opposed to “Ampelkarte,” I prefer “Arschkarte,” as Petrovsky KSC has suggested.
    It should be obvious, but refers to the red card, as it is mostly puled from the back pocket.

  24. chris says:

    Isnt SCHTOPENFRUMMFLOPPEN German for bra?

  25. Mark Lovell says:

    Special mention for Herbstmeister. (autumn Champion or pre-Winter Break)

    Only in Germany…

  26. Dermo says:

    Then there was Steffan Kuntz, whose surname appears on a number of German fans’ shirts in the video “Three Lions ’98”. A brilliant piece of mischief.

  27. pedja says:

    5. bombenschuss/ sonntagsschuss – the video doesnt correspond to the term. a ‘sonntagssschuss’ is kinda lucky punch, a shot from no where going in mainly due luck something like this: http://youtu.be/iglbzXtID0w

    only used in austria:
    my absolute favourite ‘gurkerl’ – lit. cucumber, for nutmeg
    or ‘gusterstückerl’ aka ‘schmankerl’ – lit. delicacy, for a sklillful action
    ‘jud’ – lit. jew, toe-poke (nasty sh*t a bit)
    ‘Fliegengänger’ – lit. flyctacher, a lousy goalkeeper not catching no ball also possible ‘Eiergoalie’- lit. Egggoalkeeper

  28. la vipera # 27 says:

    “scheiberlfuaßboi” lit. “scheiberfussball” – olda mans tikitaka,less running more passing.veterans finest indoor

    “bandenzauber” lit. wallmagic – skilfull indoor football playing

    “stangelpass” (classic!austria only),in german maybe “querlegen”- for those who play pro evo: 3xo. a strong ball flat-bottom parallel to the groundline.

    “gaberln” austrian used for juggling

  29. Wesley says:

    Doppelpack? Two goals for one player.
    Nice and very common one.

  30. Sjakie Meulemans says:

    ‘Glanzparade’ (great save) and ‘Vierenkette’ (the four defenders) are two of my favourites.

  31. Manfred says:

    The most idiotic term and a real plague is calling 3 goals in one game ‘Dreierpack’ instead of calling it a ‘hat trick’ (or is it hat-trick? I’ve read both.), a term used everywhere else in the world except in Germany. Best example: the 3 Goals scored by Hurst in the 1966 Final.
    No hat trick in Germany because they insist on 3 consecutive goals. It gets worse: ever better yet are 3 consecutive goals in one half. To top this idiocy the only real or golden or whatever hat trick is: 3 conscutive goals in one half, but it has to be one shot with the left foot, one with the right foot, and one header.
    As if it isn’t hard enough to score 3 times in one game.

  32. ReinerNiemand says:

    It’s not stupid, but precise.
    A hat trick you described is a “lupenreiner” (=pure even viewed by magnifying lens) Hattrick.
    Germans tend to set impossible standards or themselves, and then they achieve them ;-p.

  33. Is there a Bloemfonteinneintor to describe a ball that is half a metre inside the goal but somehow the officials can’t see it? Also known as a Lampardneintor?

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