Pies’ Top 10 Favourite Spanish Football Phrases

Chris Wright

19th, March 2014


By Chris Wright

Again, no need for a blurb here; it’s a bit of a Ronseal article – so let’s start where we mean to begin, shall we?

10. GOOOOOL GOL GOL GOL GOOOOOOOL!!!: Because, y’know…

Spain Soccer La Liga

9. Pintalo de amarillo: i.e, “paint him yellow” – asking for a player to be cautioned.

8. Sombrero: As in the famous Spanish hat, in reference to a tricksy player dinking the ball up and over an opponent’s head and running off with it on the other side.

Spain Soccer La Liga

7. ¡Vaya pepinazo!: Literally translates as “what a great big cucumber!” and is used to express delight at particularly impressive long-range, curling shot at goal.

Diego Maradona Action

6. Gambeteando: South American term which literally translates as “shrimping” the term used for long, slaloming, Maradona-like dribbles which conjure the image of fishing boats flitting from net to net.


5. Manita: “Little hand” and used to denote a five-goal haul, famously displayed to the crowd by Gerard Pique after Barcelona’s evisceration of Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in 2010.

Soccer - World Cup Qualifier - Slovakia v Spain

4. Armario: Meaning “wardrobe” and used to describe the kind of large, burly, no-nonsense central-defender who’s happy just to kick lumps out of people for 90 minutes. Take Miguel Angel Nadal, for example.

Spain Soccer Champions League

3. Hacer la cama: Meaning “making the bed”. Describes when an attacker purposefully doesn’t jump to head a high ball in order to create the illusion that the defender directly behind him has held him down.


2. Dar un baño: Giving your opponent’s a bath/good scrubbing by beating them convincingly.


1. ¡Viva la madre que me parió!: Another commentary term which translates as “Long live the mother who gave birth to me!” and is usually hooted in ecstasy when a team snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

We’re reliably informed that “¡Me cago en la puta madre que me parió!/I sh*t on the f**king mother who gave birth to me!” is the polar opposite variation!

Honorary mentions…

‘Cola de vaca’: Mexican term translating as “cow’s tail” and used to describe a player able to repeatedly change direction quickly.

‘Desquilibrar’: A player adept at unbalancing opponents, as in a “de-equilibrium-iser”.

‘Hasta el rabo todo es toro’: “Up to the tail, it’s all bull” – the Spanish equivalent of “play to the final whistle” or “don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched”.

‘Pum pum pum pum’: The noise used by Xavi to describe the short, quick passing between himself and Andres Iniesta.

‘Jugada de pared’: “Wall play/pass” – a one-two, as in “playing the ball off the wall and back to yourself”.

‘A túnel’: “Tunnel” – a nutmeg

‘Cholismo’: An increasingly popular term which refers to Diego “Cholo” Simeone’s tactical approach and winning mentality at Atletico Madrid; fast, high-pressure, direct and intense.

‘Para que te traje’: Meaning ‘What did I bring you here for?” and uttered in disbelief every time a player blazes a rubbish shot over the crossbar, etc.

Soccer - UEFA European Championship 2008 - Final - Spain v Germany - Spain Training - Ernst Happel Stadium

A few classic Luis Aragones quotes…

“Y ganar, y ganar, y ganar, y volver a ganar, y ganar, y ganar, y eso es el fútbol, señores.” (Win, and win, and win, and go back to winning, and win, and win, and win, and that is football, gentlemen.)

“Las finales no se juegan, se ganan” (Finals aren’t for playing, they’re for winning)

“Digo más veces vete a tomar por culo que buenos días” (I’ve said ‘go f*** yourself’ more times in my life than good morning)

Britain Soccer Premier League

Some bonus Rafaisms from the one and only Senor Benitez…

‘Jugar entre lineas’: Playing between the lines; a now-common expression in English punditry circles which was first introduced by Rafa.

“Sometimes you cannot see a priest in a mountain of sugar”, referring to then-Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson’s inability to see the problems that were staring him in the face.

The parable of the short blanket: “With a short blanket, if you cover your feet, you get cold at the top and if you cover the top, you get cold feet. That is to say, if you attack Barcelona, you find yourself short in defence and if you only defend, you do not create any threat.”

* * * * *

Lastly, mucho thanks to everyone who submitted entries following our Twitter plea, especially @Andy_MurrayFFT (who also went out of his way to provide the Rafaisms/Aragones quotes), @FootballCliches, @James_Dart, @J-Fran29, @gonekais, @adamjgosling@bgabeduran and last, but by no means least, @Jaimejoalon.

You’re all super bueno in our book.

* * * * *

Suggested further reading…

Pies’ Top 10 Favourite German Football Phrases

Posted in Featured, La Liga, Newsnow, Top 10s & lists

Share this article: Email


  1. Wilma says:

    Two favourites:

    ‘The fish are still all for sale’ when the game’s open near the end.

    ‘That’s the foot he uses to get onto the bus’ for a spooner with the weak foot.

    Lovely stuff.

  2. TravisKOP says:

    gotta love rafa

  3. lol says:

    “Sometimes you cannot see a priest in a mountain of sugar”

    i am very sure he was referring to himself ( the priest ), when he was sacked from liverpool despite the good job he done there ( mountain of sugar )

Leave a Reply