Football in Nigeria

Difficulty Level: (1)→2→(3)

Background:It’s 2010. Just before the World Cup in South Africa. Gabriel Agu from Lagos, Nigeria, talks about his life and football.

Think about this question when you watch the video for the first time:

What aspects of Gabriel’s life demonstrate his passion for football?

[afterwards read the text to check your understanding. Watching before reading to answer the question above will help you to develop your listening skills]

I always open the shop around 11 to 12. And I say a little prayer. Then sweep every area, every angle inside [corner of] the shop. Then the day starts. I sell sports items in the shop; the likes of football boots, some football hose [or football socks], football flyers [scarves], short ???? [shorts], customised jerseys.

“I have Manchester”. “Yeah, Yeah, this one.”

The forthcoming World Cup. It has propelled me… as in going to the market to get some goods so that customers who are coming for the World Cup demands [for their World Cup needs]… I will not be found wanting.

The zeal that I have in me about football… is the passion that ???? in me… and can never go off [never go away]. Because that is my world. And that is what I am choosing, and that is what I am living.

The passion I have inside me entices customers [from] all around. In fact, the sales of [on] the market is boosting [have been boosted]. And I love it!

For more videos about the South African World Cup and its impact on the people of Africa visit:

Cesc Fabregas – post-match interview

Difficulty Level: (1)→2→(3)

[Important football vocabulary is defined at the bottom of the page]

Background: It’s September 2011. England have just between Spain 1-0. Cesc Fabregas is being interviewed post-match. In the summer of 2011 he moved from Arsenal to his home-town club Barcelona. This is his first football match back in England.

[Think about the answer to this question the first time you watch the video:]

Why isn’t Fabregas very concerned about this defeat to England?

[Afterwards, check your understanding with the text. Watching to get the answer to this question before you read will help you to improve your listening skills, and help you to focus on overall meaning first before looking at the detail]

Well Cesc, your first return to London ends in a defeat…. what were your thoughts on the game?

Well, two very different styles. I think we had at least 80, 85% of possession. We, just, played very well… we couldn’t find a goal. England just defending with 10 men, one up front, trying to go counter attack… I don’t know… sometimes this happens in football. We felt that the only way they could beat us is from a set piece, and that’s what happened.

And yourself, you came on in the second half, you had a couple of half-chances… you please to get involved in the game?

Yeah, I didn’t play [I haven’t played] for Spain for a very long time. Last year with injuries at Arsenal I didn’t at all. And, so it’s good to be back. You know… at the end of the day, it’s just a friendly game, and, you know, what we want to be is in… at the Euros next season, which is the most important [thing].

Of course, the two sides may even meet again there. So it will be a different game all together…

Oh, definitely, definitely, I mean that’s different you know. This is the way it is. We all want to win. England won this time, so just congratulate them, that’s it!

How do you feel Wembley went? … the atmosphere and the pitch and everything…?

It’s good. I’ve never won here. You know, I’ve played two times, I lost [I’ve lost] two. So, I will try to make this change [to change this]

Yourself, obviously been at Barcelona since the summer. How’s it going there? You settled in and pleased with the way you are playing?

Yeah, I’m very happy, very happy. You know, I’m feeling very good in the team and playing a lot. And, you know, everything at the moment is going on my way [is going for me]. So, I’m… hopefully it will keep going like that.

Thanks for your time.

A defeat: a loss, the opposite of ‘a win’
Possession: A team has possession of the ball when the team have the ball and they are passing it to each other.
Up front: in attack.
To counter attack: to quickly move the ball from your defence to your attack when the other team lose the ball.
A set-piece: a free kick, corner, or throw-in.
A friendly: a match which is not part of a competition.
The pitch: here it is used to talk about the quality of the playing surface. There had been problems with the quality of the grass at Wembley.

Mourinho–how he became a football manager

Difficulty Level: (1)→2→(3)
Think about this question when you watch the video for the first time:
What factors helped Jose Mourinho become a top football manager?
[afterwards read the text to check your understanding. By watching the video only first – not reading the text – you will practice your listening skills and not just your reading]

Background: This is an extract from a documentary about Jose Mourinho which was made in 2010. Mourinho and his former boss Boby Robson talk about his early career…

… to be born with some natural talent, and after that there are many ways of become [of becoming] a top manager. I don’t like to say [I don’t like it when people say] that to become a great manager you had to [have to] be a great player. Because at this moment [at the moment] you have many of us in the top [at the top], and we weren’t a great players [great players]. So, there are many ways to become a great manager.

Mourinho got his break at Sporting Lisbon, thanks to an English man…

Jose introduced himself to me, because the President couldn’t, said who he was, what he was, and that he was to be my interpreter. He spoke very good English… good looking guy.. I told him not to stand next to me too many times! And we got stuck into the job, it was as simple as that.

He gave me a great chance of work [to work] at the top level when I was so young. And that for me was very important.

I needed him, on the pitch everyday. He stood behind me, listened…learnt…looked… wrote… remembered.

When Robson moved from Sporting Lisbon to Porto Mourinho went with him. He was no longer an addition to his managerial team, he was a vital part of it.

Robin Van Persie – Arsenal – Post-Match Interview

Difficulty Level: (1)→2→(3)
Important football (soccer) vocabulary is highlighted at the bottom of the page.
Watch the video first without reading the text so you practice your listening skills.

Think about these questions when you watch the video for the first time: Was it an easy game for Arsenal? Were Arsenal positive or negative in their tactics? [afterwards read the text to check your understanding]

Background: It’s October 2011 and Arsenal have had a really bad start to the season but manage to beat Chelsea 3-5 away. Robin Van Persie has scored a hat trick. This is his post-match interview.

Robin, Premier League hat tricks, you know, don’t come around every day. And they certainly don’t come around every day at Stamford Bridge… what a great day for you and the team…

Yes, it was.  In my opinion, one of the hardest grounds in the world, because, to do it here, to score 5 goals here at Stamford Bridge is a big achievement.

Do you feel that today, and over the last couple of weeks, Arsenal have answered the critics, because people were very quick to criticise Arsenal this season, very quick.

Yes, I know, and I noticed. Er, if you look at our last 8 or 9 games, we’ve won, er, 7 or 8 of them, er, so we’re having a good run, not for the last couple of weeks, but, for 2 months now. So we’re coming back slowly to the game we want to play. I think that, er, yeah, today’s game showed everything what [that] a fan everywhere in the world wants to see. I think that we showed [a] really good game, erm, overall, we had to come back twice, you know, when they just scored, you know, just before half-time. It was a bit of a blow. But we came back, then they scored the 3-3, so we had to come back again. Yeah ?????? was a big game as well for us.

And just one final question. Arsene, in his interview, said that he knew a win here was not good enough. Most people would have thought that Arsenal would have settled for a draw here. But that says something about how you approach things from now on…

Yeah, we felt very similar to, er, to the boss, because we felt a draw isn’t really helping us [wouldn’t really help us]. You know, er, we needed to win, because, er, a draw, I think, yeah, we would have stayed 6 or, 6 points behind them anyway. Yeah, we needed to come back. So now, we are only 3 or 4 points behind them, I think, so we closed the gap. That’s why a draw wasn’t good enough.

*Underlined text in brackets [ ] show alternatives which are more common in standard English.


a ground: a synonym for stadium
achievement: something very good and difficult that you have succeeded in doing
a good run: good results in recent matches
a draw: the teams have the same number of goals at the end of the match
to settle for something: to be happy with something even though it’s not the best thing
to close the gap: to get more points than the team above this week, so the points difference is now less
to score a hat trick: to score 3 goals in one match

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