“Swansea’s Andre Ayew — signed on a Bosman transfer from Marseille this summer — just received a yellow card.” You will find sentences and terms like this in a discussion on soccer. Plenty of people, terms and teams are unique to the sport; soccer is an in-depth world. Today’s column, a “soccer alphabet,” is designed to teach everyone something new about the sport, no matter if you are new to soccer or if you follow it religiously.
The advantage rule means that if a foul is committed on a player attacking, the referee may allow play to continue to let the team have a chance at scoring. This is called “playing the advantage.” It is designed to prevent defending teams from intentionally fouling to stop the play.
B: Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich is one of the most successful soccer teams ever. The German club has won 25 league titles and 17 domestic cup championships, most recently winning the Champions League in 2013.
C: Cristiano Ronaldo
The Portuguese forward is widely considered the world’s second-best player, with only Lionel Messi thought of as superior. He scores a ridiculous amount of goals for his club, Real Madrid, including his five tallies in one contest against Espanyol last month.
D: Diego Maradona
Revered in his home country of Argentina, Maradona remains one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He is most famous, however, for his “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup, where he appeared to illegally use his hand to direct the ball into the net.
England is home to millions of soccer fans, as well as the world’s most popular league, the English Premier League. The national team faces immense pressure to succeed on the international stage, and have only one World Cup title (1966) to date.
F: F.C. Barcelona
Perhaps the world’s most dominant team at the moment, F.C. Barcelona is a force to be reckoned with. Lionel Messi plies his trade for the club, as well as other star forwards Luis Suarez and Neymar.
The Germans are the defending World Cup champions, winning in Brazil in 2014. Key figures for the team include goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.
H: Holding midfield
An increasingly important position in the modern game, a holding midfielder sits in front of the defense and aims to win the ball back. He also can be relied upon to provide distribution forward when in possession.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a polarizing figure in soccer. The talismanic striker has unquestionable talent and has been a top-class forward for teams all over Europe. However, his selfish and egotistical personality has led many to view him in a negative light.
A former club of Ibrahimovic, Juventus is one of the giants of Italian soccer. “The Old Lady,” as it is nicknamed, reached the Champions League final last year, perhaps finally overcoming the shadow of the 2006 Calciopoli scandal.
K: Kenny Dalglish
A former Liverpool forward and manager, Dalglish played in the Merseysiders’ successful 1970s teams. The Scot is one of the club’s all-time heroes.
L: Lionel Messi
Perhaps the greatest player of all time, Messi holds all sorts of goal-scoring records. Yet, many claim that in order to be the best ever, Messi needs to win a World Cup with Argentina.
M: Manchester United
One of the biggest clubs in England, United boast one of the most recognizable brands in soccer. They have struggled the past few seasons, but have still won 13 Premier League titles in 22 seasons of the competition.
The nutmeg skill — passing the ball through an opponent’s legs — is considered one of the most impressive skills to pull off in a soccer game. Players such as Messi use nutmegs to create goal-scoring opportunities.
O: Own goal
Own goal is the term for a goal that goes in off a defending player or goalkeeper. It happens fairly frequently, due to the speed of soccer and the size of the goal.
P: Paris Saint-Germain
Ibrahimovic’s club, PSG, is one of the major forces in Europe. Qatari businessman Nasser Al-Khelaifi has purchased the team and used his immense wealth to purchase top talent.
Qatar is a country poised to play a major role in soccer over the next few years. The country is currently on track to host the World Cup in 2022, and more and more top players are moving to the Middle Eastern country’s league.
R: Real Madrid
The Spanish giants are widely considered the most famous team on the globe. They boast stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale.
S: Sir Alex Ferguson
The Scottish manager is the most famous manager of all time, a coach so skilled he was knighted. He coached Manchester United for 26 years and won 13 Premier League titles. Many posit that his best attribute was rotation — he was able to keep even the most bit-part players satisfied with their roles on the team.
The Trequartista is a relatively new role in soccer. It is used to describe a playmaker who lines up as a forward, often slightly withdrawn from one main striker. The term comes from the Italian for “three quarters,” and Francesco Totti is one of the most famous players to commonly operate in this role.
The United States is growing into a soccer force. The men’s team has not quite cracked the big time yet, but the women’s team just won the Women’s World Cup and the sport is quickly gaining popularity in America.
A volley is a shot at goal taken while the ball is in mid-air. It is an extremely tricky skill and the toughest volleys are overhead “bicycle kicks.”
W: Wayne Rooney
The current captain of Manchester United and England, Wayne Rooney is one of the world’s most talented strikers. Last month, he scored his 50th career goal for England, passing Sir Bobby Charlton as the top scorer for England.
X: Xherdan Shaqiri
The Swiss midfielder is quickly becoming a player to watch. After falling out of favor at Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, he has made a fast start to life at Stoke City. A player many look at as one of the world’s very best in the future, Shaqiri is quick and skillful on the ball.
Y: Yellow Card
Part of soccer’s discipline system, the yellow card is a caution handed out by the referee. Two yellow cards constitute a red card and dismissal from the field of play.
Z: Zinedine Zidane
Who else could finish the countdown? Zidane is one of the all-time legends. The Frenchman was a goal-scoring, all-action midfielder, famously of Real Madrid.
That concludes our soccer alphabet.
Come back every other Friday for more soccer content here in “The Beautiful Game.”