Nutmeg (football)

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A nutmeg being performed in a football game.

A nutmeg (or tunnel, sometimes just meg in British English slang) is a technique used in association football, field hockey or basketball, in which a player rolls or throws the ball between an opponent's legs (feet). This can be done in order to pass to another player, to shoot on goal, or to carry on and retrieve it.

Nutmeg is the British English name for this technique.[1]

  • In Hispanic America this skill is known as "caño", "túnel","ordeñar", or "cocina".
  • In many other European/Latin and African countries it is called "panna", a Surinamese word.
  • In Scotland it is known as "50p"[citation needed] or "peg"[citation needed].
  • In Germany it is called "Tunnel" (tunnel) or "Beinschuss" (leg shot).
  • In Korea it is called "Alggagi (알 까기)" (peeling an egg).
  • In Turkey it is called "Beşik" (cradle).
  • In Uzbekistan it is called "Чатаноқ" or "Чот" (groin).
  • In Tanzania it is called "tobo" or more accurately "kupigwa tobo" (nutmegged).
  • In France it is called "petit pont" (little bridge).
  • In Finland it is called "länget".
  • In Ukraine it is called "25 kopiyok" - (25 копійок), meaning 25 cents player owes.
  • In South Africa it is also known as a "iShibobo".
  • In Jamaican English it is known as "salad".
  • In Dutch it is known by the verb "poorten" (lit. 'gating') and the noun "panna".
  • In Cameroon it is referred to as "N'zolo"
  • In Nigeria It is referred to as "Toros" or "Da Pata"
  • In Egypt and Saudi Arabia it is called "kobry" (كوبري), meaning "bridge (n)".
  • In Malaysia and Singapore it is known as an "olé" or "50sen".
  • In Kenya it is commonly known as "chobo" or "chobwe" - kupigwa chobo (nutmegged)
  • In Japan it is called "Matanuki".
  • In Australia it is called a "nutty".
  • In Iran it is called "lauyee" (لایی).
  • In Brazil it is called a "caneta" (pen), "janelinha" (little window) or "rolinho" (little roll).
  • In Polish it is called "założyć [komuś] siatkę" (put [sb] a net).
  • In Hungarian it is called "kötény" (apron).
  • In Malawi it is called Kalulu meaning "the hare" or "the rabbit"
  • In Italy it is called "busta" or simply "tunnel".
  • In Indonesia it is called "kolong" meaning "the space under" or "ngolongin" (v).
  • In Ethiopia it is called "lochie". or "weled" in Tigrigna.
  • In Denmark, Sweden and Norway it is called "tunnel".
  • In Cantonese it is called "通坑渠"
  • In Zambia it is called a "pomo or Olilo"
  • In Portugal it is usually called a "cueca" or in specific occasions a "rata".
  • In Zimbabwe it is called "deya"
  • In Ghana it is called "SULIA"
  • In Tunisia it is called "adma" (عظمة), meaning "egg (n)".
  • In Morocco and in Lebanon it is called "bayda" (بيضة), meaning "egg".
  • In Libya it is called "Dahya" (دحية), meaning "egg".
  • In Russia it is called "ochko" (очко), meaning "hole"
  • In Austria it is called "Gurkerl", meaning "little cucumber".
  • In Greece it is called "podia" (ποδιά) from podea a kind of (apron).
  • In Romania it is called "urechi", referring to the eye of a sewing needle, or "craci", which is basically a colloquial word for "legs".
  • In Israel it is called "hashkhala" [השחלה], referring to the act of putting a thread through the eye of a needle.
  • In Vietnam it is called "xỏ háng".
  • In Peru it is called "huacha."
  • In India it is called "galli"
  • In China (Mandarin speaking part) it is called "穿裆"


The origins of the word are a point of debate. An early use is in the novel A bad lot by Brian Glanville (1977).[2]

According to Alex Leith's book Over the Moon, Brian - The Language of Football,[3] "nuts refers to the testicles of the player through whose legs the ball has been passed and nutmeg is just a development from this".

The use of the word nutmeg to mean leg in Cockney rhyming slang has also been put forward as an explanation.[1]

Another theory was postulated by Peter Seddon in his book "Football Talk - The Language And Folklore Of The World's Greatest Game".[4] 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.[1]

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.[citation needed]

Further reading[edit]

  • "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.


  1. ^ a b c Ingle, Sean (2005-09-07). "Where does the term nutmeg come from - the final word". The Knowledge (London: The Guardian). Retrieved 2006-08-01. 
  2. ^ 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.."
  3. ^ Alex Leith Over the Moon, Brian - The Language of Football
  4. ^ Peter Seddon "Football Talk - The Language And Folklore Of The World's Greatest Game"