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A nutmeg (or tunnel) is a technique used in soccer football, field hockey or basketball, in which a player rolls or throws the ball through an opponent's legs. This can be whilst passing to another player, shooting or occasionally to carry on and retrieve it themselves. Nutmeg is the British name for this move. In Hispanic America this skill is known as "caño" "túnel" or "ordeñar"; in many other European/Latin and African countries the Nutmeg is called "Panna". In Scotland it is known as "50p" or "peg" and "petit pont" in France. In South Africa it is also known as a "iShibobo." In Jamaica this play is known as "SALAD". In Nigeria this move is commonly referred to as "O-C" (pronounced using the respective alphabets). In Arabic speaking countries, it is called "bayyaḍeẗ" (بيضت) (meaning: to make someone lay an egg (v) ) or "kobry" (كبري) (meaning: bridge (N) in contrast with 'tunnel'); In Malaysia and Singapore it is also known as an 'olé'.
In Southern Gloucestershire the move is considered to be a 'Sausage' rumored to be associated with renowned football league player Chris Wales.
According to Alex Leith's book Over the Moon, Brian - The Language of Football, "nuts refers to the testicles of the player through whose legs the ball has been passed and nutmeg is just a development from this".
Another theory was postulated by Peter Seddon in his book "Football Talk - The Language And Folklore Of The World's Greatest Game". The word arose because of a sharp practice used in nutmeg exports between America and England. "Nutmegs were such a valuable commodity that unscrupulous exporters were to pull a fast one by mixing a helping of wooden replicas into the sacks being shipped to England," writes Seddon. "Being nutmegged soon came to imply stupidity on the part of the duped victim and cleverness on the part of the trickster." It soon caught on in football, implying that the player whose legs the ball had been played through had been tricked, or, nutmegged.
A similar term, "5-hole," is used in ice hockey when the puck goes between the goalie's legs into the goal. The two terms should not be confused, and it would be incorrect to use the term "nutmeg" in ice hockey.
- "The Nutmeg dribbling trick". Expert Football. Retrieved 2005-12-20. — stills of a player executing a nutmeg, demonstrating the trick of pulling the ball back in order to force the defender to open his legs.
- "Finishing and Scoring". Expert Football. Retrieved 2005-12-20. — A well-positioned goalkeeper may be vulnerable to a nutmeg.
- Page 57 "He nutmegged him ! ' 'He did,' said Peter Bailey, wonderingly, 'he did. A proper nutmeg.' What Jack had done, in fact, was to slip the ball between the legs.."
- Alex Leith Over the Moon, Brian - The Language of Football
- Peter Seddon "Football Talk - The Language And Folklore Of The World's Greatest Game"
- Ingle, Sean (2005-09-07). "Where does the term nutmeg come from - the final word". The Knowledge (London: The Guardian). Retrieved 2006-08-01.