Category Archives: Sport

363. Muhammad Ali & The Rumble in the Jungle

This is a special episode about Muhammad Ali and the story of one of his most famous fights, “The Rumble in the Jungle”. In the episode you’ll hear me give a biography of Ali and then I go into lots of descriptive detail about the fight, exploring exactly what happened in and out of the ring and why he is now considered not only one of the greatest boxers but one of the most outstanding people of recent times. The episode is almost 100% transcribed. See below for details.

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It is a cool Wednesday morning here in Paris as I record this episode. Again I’m talking about sport on the podcast today. This time it’s the sport of boxing as I talk about arguably the greatest boxer we’ve ever had, and in fact one of the greatest people of the last 50 years or so – Muhammad Ali. I’ve got a lot to say about the man, so I suspect this could be another long episode of the podcast! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – a lot of my episodes are long these days. Now, most of you seem to be fine with that, which is cool. I’ll say that with these episodes you are getting a tremendous amount of English exposure and that is one of the key ingredients in gaining proper English with a wide range of vocabulary and accurate listening skills, which really helps your English in other areas such as your own speaking. You can learn a lot from episodes like this, even if I’m not explicitly teaching language to you. I recommend that you listen closely, get into the story, pay attention and be curious about what’s going to happen next, while noticing the language I’m using to describe the events of Ali’s life and the specific details of his fights. Pay attention to every word, while getting drawn into the story of one of the most extraordinary people of recent years. Look out for not only language for describing the narrative of Ali’s life story but also the specific descriptions of boxing, which will include some complex language to describe body position, movement and technique. I’ve planned this episode quite carefully and took some time to do it. You’ll see almost every word of this transcribed on my website. I strongly recommend that you go and check it out. You could read along with me, or use the script to help you learn English in lots of ways. Alright, that’s my pep talk about learning English with this episode, let’s now get stuck into this subject.

We lost another great person this year,  Muhammad Ali. Since Ali died I’ve had quite a lot of messages from listeners saying to me, “Luke, talk about Muhammad Ali!” OK! I would absolutely love to talk about this subject! I am a big fan of Ali, especially his boxing. It’s one of my favourite topics. I’ve never talked about this on the podcast before, but I do have an interest in boxing and martial arts in general and particularly in several fights involving Ali so I am more than happy to talk about this in a special podcast episode to celebrate the life of The People’s Champion, the one and only Muhammed Ali, who truly was The Greatest.

And yes I do consider boxing as a martial art. I think it is a discipline and even though there are rules to boxing that you don’t have in other martial arts, I think true fighters understand that boxing can still be considered a martial art.

On the subject of fighting – I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe in war, doesn’t believe in violence and generally doesn’t like fighting, but I am interested in boxing. I think it is a discipline and it’s a remarkably complex sport which, at the highest level, involves incredible levels of technique, strategy and skill. It’s also a huge mental challenge as well as a physical one.

I would try doing it and I’ve often thought about doing it, but I just know what would happen. I’d go down to the gym and have a go at the punching bags and get into the techniques and the sparring, but as soon as I got into a genuine fight situation all it would take is one punch on my nose and I’d say “OK, stop – stop! That’s enough!” So instead I’m far more comfortable talking about it, reading about it and studying fights on video than actually getting punched in the face myself.

It’s worth mentioning that boxing is a controversial sport and there are arguments to say it should be banned or controlled. That’s a complex argument and I understand that the point of the game is to try to hit the your competitor but I think that as long as the sport is properly regulated and the boxers themselves know exactly what they’re doing, then I think it’s up to them. If they are happy to do it and to take the risks then fair enough. There’s a lot to be gained for young people taking up the sport. I think it can give people a focus, discipline and also it’s a way of earning money as a professional. Many of the people who take up boxing come from difficult backgrounds and going to boxing rings to fight is better than fighting on the street and getting involved in other kinds of trouble.

I’ve always been aware of Muhammad Ali. I just remember footage of him on TV. He often appeared on British television and my parents talked about this from time to time. Such a big personality is quite hard to avoid. My interest in Ali as a boxer is mainly as a result of two things. The first is a great documentary called “When We Were Kings”. This is a feature film about Ali’s fight with George Foreman in 1974, which I’m going to talk about in a bit. When I worked at the HMV music and video store in Liverpool for a year “When We Were Kings” was on repeat every day for a week or two. You know the way they play movies in the store, on the big screens. I used to work on the specialist music and computer games counter and the screen was around the corner. I couldn’t see it, but the audio track from the movie was played through the speakers above my head, all day long. I heard the audio from that movie about 5 times a day, but couldn’t see the screen. I just listened to people describing the fight and heard Ali talking, over and over, while I was working.

The other reason I’m interested in Ali’s boxing is a book called “The Fight” by Norman Mailer. That particular book is an incredibly intense account of the same fight featured in the movie I just mentioned. The central chapter of the book is a blow by blow account of the whole 8 rounds, but the book also describes the entire story around the fight including the personal and cultural context. Norman Mailer describes his meetings with Ali and his entourage, the atmosphere of the fight and more. It’s so well written. It’s subjective, personal journalism, which for me brings the subject alive so much, and it’s tremendously evocative of the atmosphere and emotion of the fight. I’ve read it lots of times and it never gets boring to me. I recommend both the film and the book. The book can be a bit tricky to read at first because Mailer writes in a fairly complex and very descriptive style, but this really helps during his descriptions of the fight.

These days I like to watch footage of Ali fighting and watch interviews with him. YouTube is an incredible resource because most of the big moments in Ali’s career can be found there, including his biggest fights and interviews.

For this episode, I’m just going to focus mainly on the aspects of this story that I know the best and that’s really Ali’s boxing. I think if you really want to know about all the other details of Ali’s life story and all the facts and figures – names, dates, places etc then you can just check Wikipedia. What I want to do is celebrate this amazing person who we lost this year, by just telling you what I know and mostly that is related to his boxing and particularly his fight against George Foreman in 1974, which is the subject of that film and book that I enjoy so much.

So now I’m going to try and string together all the thoughts and feelings I have about this incredible guy, while also trying to tell you what I hope will be a captivating and amazing true story.

So let’s go!

Muhammad Ali – His Life

Ali was many things: An Olympic gold medal winning sportsman, a boxer, a poet, a comedian, a philanthropist, a conscientious objector to the Vietnam war, a campaigner for civil rights, a holder of controversial views on race relations, a member of the muslim brotherhood of Elijah Muhammed, a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease and one of the most inspirational and charismatic people of the 20th century. Muhammed Ali was one of those special people who don’t come along very often and who will be remembered for a long long time.

Basic life story – Main events up to the 1974 fight with George Foreman.
He was born in Louisville Kentucky in 1942, and named “Cassius Clay”. Apparently he learned to box when he was 12 in order to get revenge on some kids who stole his bike, and apparently he was talented and continued to do it. Clay went on to become a successful amateur boxer and won at the age of 18 won an Olympic gold medal for boxing in 1960 and then went on to become the world heavyweight boxing champion in 1964. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood – a group of black Americans who followed the preachings of Elijah Muhammad. The group he belonged to sought to gain equal rights for black people in the USA. Part of their vision was a segregated USA in which the blacks were given the freedom to set up their own nation. This was quite an extreme position – segregation, but it came out of the sense that blacks had no faith in white America since centuries earlier they had been forced to leave their land and come to the USA as slaves. Their wish was to be allowed to live and prosper with equal status in the country, but alongside white communities, not part of them. In 1964 (I think) he changed his name from Cassius Clay (which he said was a slave name given to his ancestors by slave masters) to Muhammad Ali. Although his views on segregation as a solution to the inequalities in society are now considered radical and extreme, he expressed his ideas so eloquently and with such grace, charm and humour that it was hard not to listen respectfully to what he had to say. In fact, he comes across in his interviews and discussions as a very thoughtful and respectful person, even if I disagree with some of the views that he expressed at the time. Listening to him speak was fascinating and he was clearly very intelligent. Ali was an amazing role model for many black American people who were struggling against prejudice and inequality on a daily basis in the USA and he was very much a symbol of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

In 1967 the USA was at war in Vietnam and like thousands of young men in the States he was drafted into the military, but Ali refused to fight, becoming a conscientious objector on religious grounds. He was arrested on draft evasion charges and this caused him to be suspended from boxing for 3-4 years as a punishment for refusing to fight. He was also stripped of all his heavyweight titles. They were taken away from him. He was also banned from travelling to foreign countries to box, because he refused to go to Vietnam to kill for his country. In hindsight, Ali’s argument is hard to disagree with in my opinion. Here’s what he had to say on the matter.

In the first part of this Ali sounds like he’s slurring his words a bit. I think that’s because the interview was done later, when symptoms of Parkinson’s were beginning to show. The second part of the interview is from a debate he had with students.

The first part of that his point is: Why should I go to another part of the world and murder people who’ve never done anything against me. They never called me nigger, they never enslaved me, raped my people, set dogs on me, lynched me. My struggle is against white oppressors at home who I have to defend myself against, not some Vietnamese in another country.

Here’s another quote:
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

Again, his actions – this time as a conscientious objector – made him a counter-culture icon and one of the most prominent voices of opposition to the Vietnam war from the beginning.

Ali appealed the decision to stop him boxing and the ban was eventually lifted in 1971 but by that time he hadn’t boxed professionally for 4 years. That’s 4 years when he was in his prime, lost. Interestingly, because the ban was imposed when he was champion, he had never lost a heavyweight title fight, so even though he didn’t have the belt he was still undefeated as a champion.

I want to talk about his famous fight in 1974 against George Foreman so I’m going to focus mainly on that in a moment.

Ali is considered to be one of the greatest boxers ever and he had an amazing record. He was also an extremely entertaining fighter. He was known mainly for his speed and his movement in the ring. He used to dance – constantly in movement, which made it extremely difficult to fight against him. Although he had some weaknesses – specifically a lack of power in his punches he made up for his faults with his amazing speed. Heavyweights aren’t usually so light on their feet or fast with their hands, but Ali was. He has been compared to Bruce Lee in the way he used movement, dancing with his feet, speed of punches, feints and counter attacks. In fact, Bruce Lee said on a number of occasions that he took a lot of influence from watching Ali boxing. Apparently Bruce Lee used to project video of Ali fighting onto a big screen and then shadow his movements, following Ali’s feet and hands. Here’s a Bruce Lee quote about Ali: “Everybody says I must fight Ali someday,” Bruce said. “I’m studying every move he makes. I’m getting to know how he thinks and moves”. Bruce Lee knew he could never win a fight against Ali “look at my hands”, he said. “That’s a little Chinese hand. he’d kill me”

Ali was not just fast at punching, but also at avoiding being punched. He seemed to be amazing at judging distance and would lean back out of the reach of oncoming punches. Looking at some videos he seemed to be unreachable. No one could touch him.

Video of Ali avoiding punches, dancing and using his reflexes.

Ali is wearing the white shorts.

One of his catch phrases was “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and it summed up his style. He was light on his feet but he could hurt with his sharp attacks.

About his speed he said:

“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.” Muhammad Ali

Some of his punches were so fast they couldn’t be seen and they didn’t appear on film. For example the punch that knocked out his rival Sonny Liston in 1964 is a bit of a legend. It’s known as the anchor punch and it happened so quickly as part of a counter attack that Sonny Liston didn’t see it coming, but neither did most of the audience or the viewers of the fight on TV. It looked like Liston had suddenly just hit the deck. The fact is that the punch arrived in about 4 100ths of a second. It was a real ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moment.

As well as his skills as a boxer, Ali was a hugely charismatic, lively and humorous personality and this is another one of the reasons he is so loved.

He used to write funny poems and his conduct in interviews was frequently hilarious. It seemed he was as quick with his responses as he was in the ring. I recommend you watch some of the videos on youTube of his funny moments.

Some funny moments

Ali did win the heavyweight title again in the early 70s but lost it to Joe Frazier. In fact Ali lost a couple of times in that period to his two main rivals Joe Frazier and Ken Norton. By 1974 people were saying that Ali was past his best and people wondered if he might never win another heavyweight title and would retire.

By 1974 a new challenger had arrived on the scene in the form of George Foreman, who was an extremely impressive fighter. Large, very strong and devastatingly effective. Foreman beat both of the fighters who had beaten Ali – Ken Norton and Joe Frazier, and went on to become the heavyweight champion.

Foreman was 25 and in the peak of fitness and had smashed Frazier and Norton in just a few rounds each. Ali was 32 and past his prime.

Nevertheless, Ali chose to have a go at beating Foreman to reclaim the heavyweight title. Boxing promoter Don King knew that it would be a great spectacle to put loudmouth Muhammad Ali the people’s champion against the young dangerous new champion George Foreman and managed to raise the money to pay for a huge high profile title fight between the two men, in which both fighters would be paid $5 million dollars. The only way he could raise the money was to go overseas and in the end it took place in Africa in Zaire, where the dictator president Mobutu put up the money to pay for the fight, knowing it would be good publicity for him and his country. The setting was Zaire, and the fight was called The Rumble in the Jungle.

So this is the story of the Rumble in the Jungle. This is the fight forms the basis of that book I love and that film I listened to so many times while working in the music shop. It’s a great story and it’s a true story, so here we go.

The Rumble in the Jungle

*Tenses – a lot of my descriptions of this fight are in present tenses, even though the fight took place in 1974. Present tenses are sometimes used to bring immediacy to events. It brings them into the present and increases the drama. Past tenses are usually used when you tell a story, but they do create some remoteness, so present tenses are sometimes used to bring the story into the here and now.

Round 1
Ali is the challenger so he arrives first, to great applause. The crowd loves him.
Foreman waits ages to come out. This is probably a tactic to unnerve Ali. It doesn’t seem to work.
Some people in the crowd boo Foreman as he enters the ring.
The fighters psyche each other out.
Foreman uses his physical presence.
Ali is fighting a mental battle with Foreman, using the crowd against him – encouraging them to shout “Ali bomo ye”, shouting and talking all the time at Foreman.
Foreman is silent and has complete faith in himself and his abilities.
They have their gloves put on and then there’s a moment when they stare at each other.
Moments before the bell rings Muhammad Ali has a moment of quiet prayer in his corner.
Foreman is bending over as the bell rings, showing his ass to Ali. Not much dignity or charisma there.
The bell rings.
Ali immediately is on the offensive, leaping towards Foreman.
Ali dances.
Foreman attempts to start cutting off the ring, using his (rear) right hand like a bear’s paw to deal with left jabs. This is part of his technique.
Some boxing principles.
You have a lead hand and a rear hand.
If you’re right handed, your lead is your left hand.
You don’t stand square to your opponent.
You have your left foot forward slightly and the right foot back. The left shoulder forward, and the right shoulder back a bit. The left hand is closer to your opponent, the right hand further away. This means your left hand can jab forward, from the shoulder. The punches can be fast and direct but less powerful. The right hand, the rear hand, is further away and comes across your shoulders. This means it takes longer to reach your opponent, but it carries a lot more force because it carries a lot of your body weight with it. A powerful rear hand punch can carry your whole body weight behind it if you twist your hips and shoulders behind the punch.
So the left hand for jabs, the right hand for longer punches. You rarely lead with the right hand. This is because it takes ages to arrive and the opponent can usually see it coming, and block it, leaving you exposed.
So usually boxers will do combinations of punches, leading with the left. That’s a jab with the left followed immediately by a powerful punch with the right. Punches can be aimed at the head or the body. The can come in a straight line, they can come around the side or from the bottom. Punches from underneath are called uppercuts. You can also punch over the top of someone’s defences too in some cases.
Part of Foreman’s strength was that he had an extended rear hand. He held his rear hand quite far forward in an extended defensive position. He was brilliant at using that extended rear hand (right) to neutralise the opponents leading left hand. He could block the jabs from the left or counter the jabs with the right hand sometimes, and then attack with powerful hooks from both sides.

He combined this with his technique of cutting off the ring. This involves forcing the opponent into the corners or against the ropes by carefully and steadily stepping forwards and to the side. If the opponent attempts to move around, Foreman would sidestep, essentially trapping the opponent and reducing the space in which they can move, and with that extended right hand cutting off the leading jabs of the opponent he could basically trap the opponent in exactly the position he wanted and would then apply his brutally powerful punches to great effect. Often, just a few of these carefully placed punches would be enough to knock the opponent to the floor, or unconscious, like he did with Ken Norton.

Cutting off the ring was exactly the sort of fighting style that could work against Ali.
Ali and Foreman had never faced each other before, so nobody knew how it would go.
Unlike Ali’s fluid, fast and accurate technique. Foreman’s style was not graceful or beautiful. With his extended rear hand and his relentless side stepping and steady movement forwards, Foreman appeared like a bear or like Frankenstein’s monster, slowly but inevitably closing in on his opponent before causing untold damage with those powerful arms and huge fists. Not graceful, but devastatingly effective. This is what had destroyed the only two fighters to beat Ali previously – Ken Norton and Joe Frazier. Foreman appeared not only to beat them with ease, but smash them to pieces. Ali had lost to both these men, but Foreman had taken care of them in just a matter of minutes. He was in his prime both physically and in terms of confidence. According to Foreman, he felt invincible before the fight and was sure he would beat Ali.

This is what Ali was facing and apparently he was scared. Despite all the bravado, he must have been petrified. Watch the video of Foreman beating Norton and Frasier. He’s like an executioner. Everyone was worried that Ali couldn’t win and that he’d get hurt.

Also, Ali was past his prime. He was relatively old and had already fought his best fights. Since his ban, his legs weren’t the same as they used to be. He couldn’t dance like he used to. He was heavier than before, but he was still fast, and there were dimensions to his fighting technique that we hadn’t seen yet.

Everyone wondered what would happen, and how long it would take Foreman to close down Ali. How could Ali escape Foreman? The bell rang for the first round and Ali leapt forward to engage Foreman.

Then he did something that nobody expected.
Something so reckless and brilliant that nobody could believe what they were seeing, and it seemed to work.
He started throwing right hand leads.
A right hand lead is when a fighter leads with their rear hand, which in this case was the right hand.
This is a high risk strategy but if it works it can be very deadly.

Because the right hand has to travel much further, the other fighter has a lot more time to stop it.
However, if a right hand punch connects, it can do a lot more damage, because it carries more body weight.
Remember that Foreman’s technique was to neutralise left hand leads with his extended rear hand – his bear paw. Ali chose to completely avoid this, by leading with heavy right hand punches, taking Foreman completely by surprise.
Ali hit Foreman with 10 or 11 right hand leads. Unbelievable. What a shock! Nobody could believe it.
Some of the right hand leads connect perfectly and you can see Foreman’s head jerk back quickly from the impact. Sweat sprays off his head as the punches land.
The crowd goes wild as Ali manages to land so many right hand punches to George’s face.
Again, Ali is fast and the influence on Bruce Lee is obvious here. His right hand punches are expertly executed. He feints with the left hand and applies the right. He then feints with the right hand, and then strikes with the right. He’s playing a guessing game with Foreman – which hand is going to come next? Foreman keeps being taken by surprise by the right hand of Ali. This just was not what he expected and he keeps falling for it in the first round. At least 10 times, with a few left hands in there too. This didn’t happen with Norton, or Frasier.
This took massive amounts of guts from Ali. It was a very risky move, completely unexpected and unpredictable. Only someone like Ali – who was cocky enough, fast enough and unconventional enough, could have done this. What an extraordinary fighter.
I think Ali’s plan was to knock Foreman down in the first round in a way that nobody could have suspected.
Again and again he hits him with right hand leads.
But Foreman does not go down. The punches hit him and his face puffs up, but he’s just enraged and he continues to advance on Ali and hits him with several punishing blows which must have hurt Ali.
Foreman is incredibly powerful, and the right hand leads must have put him in a huge rage. Some of the punches he delivers to Ali look very heavy. One connecting to the left side of Ali’s head, another to his heart under Ali’s outstretched arm.
But Ali doesn’t seem affected and in fact is visibly talking to Foreman throughout this.
Wrestling – head locks, holding his left glove against Foreman’s neck, talking to him.
Apparently saying things like “Is that the best you can do George? Come on hit me with a real punch!”
The round ends.

Moments in the corner.
Ali whips up the crowd again.

Round 2
Ali’s plan to knock down Foreman in round 1 with unexpected right hand leads hasn’t worked.
Despite landing the punches – about 10 of them. Foreman is still standing and seems ok.
Ali starts to take some punishment here.
This is phase 2 of his strategy.
He stops dancing and goes to the ropes.
To everybody watching it looks like Ali is going to be slaughtered by Foreman.
It’s quite a sad sight, because Ali is not dancing. He’s retreating, letting Foreman come to him and then leaning back against the ropes as Foreman starts laying into him with huge heavy punches to the body and head.
But Ali knows what he’s doing. It’s incredibly brave of him, but it’s calculated.
Most accounts of this fight just say that Ali went to the ropes, blocked most of the punches, let the ropes take the impact and let Foreman ‘punch himself out’, which means to exhaust himself from punching.
This was part of the plan. But Ali’s technique here was more sophisticated than that.

Foreman’s heavy punches – Ali blocks them. He leans back deep into the ropes, ensuring that the ropes take a lot of the force of the punches. The punches hit Ali and the force is transferred into the ropes. Also, Foreman has to lean forwards to hit Ali’s head. Ali is so fast that he avoids or blocks many of the punches. Ali was also a master of absorbing punches.
There were many aspects to Ali’s abilities and he used them all in combination, often highlighting one technique, allowing the other technique to be a surprise. This is part of that.
In a sense, this was a trap for Foreman. It was a risky move by Ali because it involved exposing himself to a lot of punishment, but Ali used one of his techniques – avoiding punches and absorbing impacts with body movement. He was a fluid fighter who relied on speed and quick reactions to limit the effect of punches.

While it looked like Ali was shutting down – not dancing, going to the ropes, essentially letting Foreman attack him, he was using his defensive skills to lure Foreman into a trap.
Foreman had one technique. Use his right hand to prevent left jabs coming around, close off the ring, and then apply massive swinging punches and uppercuts to maximum effect. This is how he’d managed to smash Frazier and Norton.

But Ali got around Foreman’s right hand by punching under it or inside it, and by leading with his right hand, which fighters never do.
Also, when Foreman got too close, Ali would hold his neck, pushing him off balance, preventing him from being able to swing properly. He would place his left hand on the back of his neck and pull his head down. He’d put his weight on Foreman, making Foreman carry some of his weight. Over time this exhausted Foreman.
Also, because Ali kept backing away, Foreman kept moving towards Ali, which gave extra force to Ali’s jabs and counter attacks from his defensive position on the ropes. Foreman was always moving into Ali’s punches, which multiplied their damage.

Also, Ali was using all his charisma, experience and mental strength against Foreman, and was constantly talking to him, teasing him, breaking down his confidence, breaking down his self belief, bit by bit. Apparently he kept telling Foreman “You can’t punch George, you don’t punch you push! Is that the best you’ve got! I’m your master George, you ain’t nothing, you’ve met your match, you’ll see you’ve stepped into the ring with your master, you’re out of your depth George, your punches aren’t hurting me… etc”

This would have seriously affected Foreman’s state of mind, causing him to be distracted and unfocused. It would have chipped away at his confidence, sowing seeds of self-doubt that you just can’t afford to be thinking in that situation.

When you view the fight again from this point of view, you realise that Ali was in control of the fight. He used Foreman’s strengths against him and he dominated Foreman mentally.

You can see in the video the moments when Ali is teasing Foreman and shouting comments at him, and Foreman is momentarily distracted and Ali takes the opportunity to strike lighting fast punches that are carefully aimed. Foreman is almost blind to them as he keeps bearing down on Ali. Also Ali has won the support of the audience, all of whom are willing him to succeed and Foreman to fail. When two fighters are so evenly matched, the mental conditions will give you an edge. In fact I think in sport it’s all in the mind. So much of it is about having the will to succeed and the motivation – like that song Eye of the Tiger!

Foreman’s determination and single mindedness in the ring is becoming a weakness as he keeps walking towards what he thinks is a target backing away or helpless against the ropes. In fact Ali keeps popping off the ropes to apply punches to Foreman’s head. They’re not super powerful blows, but they’re accurate and Foreman is moving towards them.

However, Ali’s strategy took time and Foreman was young. He had a lot of strength and stamina. He was also full of confidence and self-belief, which took a long time for Ali to drain away and Ali had to take a great deal of punishment on the ropes over many rounds, in fact there were times when Ali was just taking punches, absorbing them, doing his best to limit their force and not managing to get many counter punches in on Foreman. It looked like Ali was being destroyed, but it was a long-term plan.

Eventually after a number of rounds of this technique – drawing Foreman in, deflecting and avoiding the punches, wrestling him off balance, constantly talking to him and breaking his nerve with comments, and managing to strike a few jabs and punches while also taking a lot of punches to the body – Foreman got tired. It’s hard to keep punching as hard as you can, while defending yourself.

As an example, just try holding a 4kg weight straight out in front of you for as long as possible. How long can you do it? I would be surprised if you managed more than 5 minutes. If you did it for 10 minutes that is very impressive. A lot of people couldn’t last two minutes. Now think of the last time you had to run for an extended period of time. I know I have a lot of runners who listen to this – but if you don’t run regularly, imagine running at top speed for about 10-15 minutes. That’s actually quite a long time at top speed, as if a bear was chasing you. You’d be knackered probably – you know the feeling, when you’ve just got no wind left in your body, you’re experiencing pain in your legs and in your chest, your lungs just can’t take in enough air quickly enough, completely out of breath. You know the feeling. It’s awful. Now imagine doing both of those things at the same time, while also defending yourself against very powerful punches from perhaps the best fighter in the world. That’s an idea of the challenge faced by both these guys.

So, Foreman got tired. He punched himself out and lost focus. Eventually his guard started to drop a bit and Ali exploited it, even though he was also exhausted. He came off the ropes and applied lots of fast, well placed punches to Foreman’s head. The end of the fight was quite beautiful in an odd way. Ali applied his excellent footwork by coming off the ropes as Foreman’s guard dropped, stepping to the side forcing Foreman to turn to his left, putting him off balance while applying a combination of punches with both hands, his jabs with the left setting up harder punches to the right, and as Ali stepped to Foreman’s right and as Foreman began to turn he lost balance and began to fall, Ali had hit him with a combination of fast punches and then Foreman began to fall while they were turning, slowly yet inevitably falling towards the ground like a huge tree that had been cut down but still hadn’t fallen, but which had no way of staying upright. The whole time Ali had another punch ready, which he held back, ready to strike, but he held it as Foreman turned, and with a strange kind of beauty, Ali just let Foreman fall to the ground without hitting him again. Foreman’s fall seemed to be in slow motion and had an inevitability to it. Ali let it happen and seemed to guide him round, letting him fall as the big man crashed to the ground.
As the old saying goes, “The harder the come, the harder they fall”.

What Ali had done was use his intelligence against Foreman. When you realise what happened in the fight, how Ali won it, you realise what an amazing achievement it was. In the end, Ali was a far more sophisticated and complex person and he outclassed Foreman. As a test of character, Ali passed with flying colours and it’s one of the reasons he is such a legendary figure today.

He demonstrated extreme strength of character, not just physical ability. He dominated Foreman and proved himself to be the greatest.

Here’s what Foreman himself had to say about the fight, and about Ali. This is from CNN, and Foreman begins by talking about how confident he was after so easily beating all his other opponents in previous fights.

He said that his whole life was devastated, and he’s not exaggerating. Apparently after this fight Foreman had a huge nervous breakdown. Essentially, the loss completely ruined his confidence to the point where he lost all sense of who he was up to that point. He described the experience as like falling into a huge black hole in which he stared death in the face. The previous George Foreman essentially died after that experience – not physically, but mentally or personally. It took him quite a lot of time to come back and piece his life together following the fight. This unstoppable fighter had been seriously shaken by the defeat. Foreman retired from boxing a few years later and over the following 15-20 years or so, he completely turned his life around, and later in the 90s I think he came back as a hugely successful business man. He became a multi millionaire by selling his patented “lean mean fat-free grilling machine” – a grill which cooks meat and drains the fat away. It’s a massive success the lean mean grilling machine. Now he’s a very self assured, charismatic and interesting man and a great public speaker. I think he became a born again Christian actually. He found god – that’s what saved him. That’s what worked for him. In fact, it’s fascinating to hear him describe his experience of having a breakdown after the fight, and then finding god. I think this is an anecdote that he has told many many times in his life.

Here he talks about being filled with hatred, feelings of paranoia, wanting revenge. Essentially his ego could not handle the defeat. He kept making excuses for the defeat, but he couldn’t avoid it and ultimately it caused a breakdown in his personality, which led to a remarkable spiritual experience in which he became a born again christian.

As for Ali, well immediately after the referee counted out Foreman and he was announced the winner, the ring was filled with people who jumped in to congratulate him. Apparently he fainted in the middle of the ring, but was resuscitated. He was the world champion again and had proved that he was truly the greatest, but he had taken serious punishment and apparently for weeks or months even he was suffering from the damage to his body. I imagine he was in extreme pain for a long time and could hardly move. Imagine being punched in the kidneys by George Foreman for 8 rounds. Ouch.

What happened next, was that an even bigger fight was set up, with even bigger stakes. At least £5million dollars to both fighters, in another international location – this time in Manilla, Philippines. This fight was arranged for the next year and was to be between Ali and Joe Frasier, the man who had previously defeated him. Frasier was Ali’s old rival, and the Thriller in Manilla became perhaps even more dramatic, dangerous and incredible than The Rumble in the Jungle. In fact, this fight was perhaps the most dangerous moment that both fighters had ever experienced. Ali described it as the closest thing to death he ever experienced, and it pushed both men right to the very limit of their lives. But that is another story for another time.

As we know, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the early 1980s and it’s frankly very sad what we all saw happen to him. His speed was gone, his fast talking was gone. What was left of the champ was a man debilitated by his illness. It was incredibly sad to have the man taken away from us, just like it’s sad for the loved ones of anyone affected by Parkinson’s, and I know because I have several people in my family who are affected by the disease. We are still trying to find a cure or find more effective treatments for Parkinson’s and I just want to make an appeal to you at this point and ask you to please consider making a donation to Parkinson’s UK – a UK based charity which funds research and care programs for Parkinson’s sufferers. I’m sure there are also local charities for this too. Parkinson’s affects one in 500 people in the UK. There’s no cure but treatments can make a big difference to the lives of people who are affected by it. So please consider making even a small donation because Parkinson’s is no joke. Visit or just search for Parkinson’s charities in your area.

Muhammad Ali has raised awareness of Parkinson’s around the world so I thought it would only be appropriate to mention the charities here, which are doing great work.

By the way, we still don’t know if boxing is what caused Ali’s Parkinson’s. It’s easy to make the link, but there still isn’t conclusive evidence to suggest it is true. While boxing definitely causes brain damage to people, it’s not necessarily the cause of the disease.

Anyway, I don’t want to end this on a sad note. Ultimately Muhammad Ali was a truly great man who was bigger than boxing. He was an inspiration to many people and someone who will always be remembered. He was opinionated, articulate, charming, charismatic, skilful, unpredictable and very entertaining.

George Foreman describes Ali (min 1.20)


This is an absolutely fascinating and brilliantly written analysis of Ali’s fighting techniques

Watch the entire “Rumble in the Jungle” fight here, with commentary from David Frost

Ali having an intelligent discussion on US TV in 1968


Some of Ali’s funny moments

Hilarious comedian Richard Pryor talks about George Foreman vs Ken Norton, and Muhammad Ali

Leave your comments. Just tell me what you think.

Thanks for listening…


355. EURO 2016 Football: Hooliganism & Violence in Marseille / England vs Russia

In this episode I talk about the EUROs including how it feels having the championship here in France, the violence in Marseille that occurred between English fans, Russian fans, local French fans and the French police this weekend, and the England vs Russia game that happened on Saturday. I welcome your comment on this subject so please share your thoughts under the page for this episode. A transcript is available for 95% of this episode.

image: / background music: me!

Transcript (95% complete)

The EURO Football Championship has started and it’s happening in France! I’m going to do a few episodes about it as the competition progresses, a bit like I did for the World Cup two years ago. I love international football competitions but I’m not a huge expert on the subject of football, so please leave your comments with all your opinions, questions and points of view as we continue through the tournament. I can then read them out in future episodes. I’m sure a lot of you out there know more about this than me, so why don’t you contribute some content for my episodes? Just leave comments on the page for this episode at – not the main page, let’s keep the football chat on the EURO 2016 pages, which you will find in the Episode Archive or on the sidebar of every page on my site. I will mention a few questions for you later in this episode.

Regarding episodes in this series – essentially I’m going to record something when there are things to say, like before or after a big game (especially if it’s England – because I’m an England fan), when there are some big events to discuss or when there are some LEPster comments to share.

So, let’s talk about the EUROS.

I understand that you might not be a football fan, or that your country is not represented in this tournament (e.g. if you’re in Asia or South America). I hope you’ll keep listening anyway – because it’s not just about 22 guys kicking a ball around a green rectangle. There’s usually some drama and action involved, and the context of international relations being played out on a football field is usually pretty interesting, especially when there are also events off the pitch too, like the violence that’s been going on in Marseille this weekend. There’s more to talk about than just football. But, there’s football too! That means goals, upsets, victories, losses, penalty shootouts, surprises and the disappointment of being an England fan.

There’s a lot going on in France at the moment.

The weather – rain, thunderstorms and floods. Homes have been flooded and people have been stuck in their cars because of flooding and stuff. But it’s not that bad of course – the vast majority of people are unaffected by that, but certainly we’re all feeling a bit fed up with the incessant rain over here!

Also, the strikes – trains have been cancelled, journeys disrupted, and also rubbish collectors are on strike. There were piles of rubbish in the street, which was pretty smelly and disgusting.

Also, there has been a tense atmosphere here since the terrorist attacks that happened in Paris last year and in Belgium this year. There are soldiers on the streets and there’s a sense the people are expecting something bad to happen especially because there will be large crowds of people in public areas and lots of tourists in town because the Euro 2016 Championship and the eyes of the world, certainly the eyes of Europe, are now on France.

So, there has been a distinct lack of buzz about the football in Paris, but I think that now the competition has started people will get into the spirit of it and people will get excited, especially since France won the opening game and the competition is now underway.

I do love international football competitions.

I really hope that France do well this time. I think the country could really do with a lift.

The UK is well represented this year too, with England, Wales and Northern Ireland all qualifying.
Of course, I’m English born and bred, so I am an England fan, which is a slightly mixed blessing.

I’m also behind Wales and Northern Ireland. I would really like to see them do well because they rarely get a lot of success in international tournaments like this. They’re generally regarded as ‘minnows’ (small fish – small teams) but let’s see what they can do. Wales are not looking too bad this year and Northern Ireland haven’t qualified for an international tournament like this in 30 years so this is a good opportunity for them. Also, our neighbours the Republic of Ireland are in the tournament too.

Another ingredient in the mix here is the EU referendum which will arrive in week 2 of the tournament. I think that’s an important part of the wider context because there are British teams in the tournament and it will just add some significance to the events on and off the pitch, and could perhaps heighten the tension of the action.

Violence in Marseille

And talking about heightening the tension, there’s yet another factor in play now and that’s hooliganism. Just this weekend, English fans were involved in violent clashes with local French fans, Russian fans and the local French police on the streets of Marseille.

That’s really shameful. First of all I think that the violence is mostly instigated or carried out by a minority. There’s a small minority of English fans who are basically hooligans – people who are just up for a fight. Most people just want to come and enjoy the football and probably have a good time in France, but these hooligans will get drunk and lairy – they drink loads of beer, take their shirts off, start singing and probably act in a very aggressive and threatening manner, in public areas that are usually nice calm places where people are dining outside restaurants or enjoying a drink in the evening.

The thing is, this is a very tense time in France because of the terror attacks and the police have probably been prepared to react strongly to violence. They probably won’t tolerate a lot of public disturbance, and in fact have responded pretty strongly to what looks like just noisy singing and general public drunkenness that the English football fans are famous for. As a result the French police on Friday evening attempted to move in on the football fans and clear them away from a popular part of the city for tourists. The football fans responded by throwing bottles and then the police went into full crowd control mode and shot tear gas at the crowd, and then started beating up fans. Then on Saturday, England fans and Russian fans clashed a bit outside the stadium.

During the game things seemed to be peaceful in the crowd as the match went on, but at the end of the game some Russian fans launched one or two flares at England fans, and as the game ended Russian fans broke through some security guards and attacked the England fans, who tried to run away. There was also a loud bang in the stadium near the end of the game, you might have heard it. I think that was a firework that was set off inside the stadium by a Russian fan.

How on earth these fans managed to get flares and a firework into the stadium when France is on such a high terror alert, I don’t know. In fact all of this violence is particularly worrying and irresponsible because everyone is on edge because of the threat of another attack. Everyone needs to just chill out and bring down the tension.

On the streets of Marseille after the game some violence continued between these different factions, and apparently the metro in Marseille was closed, taxis and busses stopped running. The city centre sounds it was a bit like a war-zone. It’s ugly and disappointing and makes me feel ashamed.

Certainly the media in England and lots of public figures are condemning the violence and strongly criticising this violent element we have in our fans, and I agree – it’s shameful that a few idiots give us all a bad name. But, there are also lots of reports coming in from eyewitnesses who say that it’s not just English fans acting like hooligans. Apparently there are other elements at work too, including local French fans and the Russians.

According to these reports from people on the street, via Twitter and Periscope and other platforms, the English fans were getting drunk in the street in the main tourist area near the port in Marseille, singing and acting aggressively, when they were attacked in coordinated movements by groups of local French fans, who apparently arrived quickly and started throwing bottles at the England fans, who responded in the same way.

Similar things happened with the Russian fans who it is reported started fights with the English. This is what I’ve read and seen on Twitter and on bits of video taken on the streets. Apparently the streets were covered in broken glass and about 30 people were injured. Two English fans are seriously hurt and may be in critical condition – one was kicked in the head a number of times and another one had a heart attack. The French police fired tear gas into the crowds to keep them back. Any fans that got close to the police were hit with batons. They also used water canons to keep the crowd at bay. The English fans responded by going berserk and throwing bottles, chairs and even tables in response.

Apparently UEFA are investigating the violence in the stadium, which appears to have been started by the Russian. I expect there will be some form of punishment given out to both sets of fans. In fact, I’ve just heard that UEFA have opened up a disciplinary procedure against the Russian Federation because of the conduct of their fans in the stadium. I just hope that all the peaceful fans aren’t affected by this, like if there is a general audience ban or something. I’m not sure what the disciplinary procedure will be exactly.

Now, it’s difficult to have complete faith in the media because you don’t know if they’re being completely impartial. I wonder what the media is saying about this in your country. They might be a bit biased, and that includes media in England and in other countries. For example, some English papers might suggest that the Russians started the fighting, or that the French police completely over-reacted and were unnecessarily brutal with the English fans. Perhaps the Russian media might emphasise the hooliganism of the English. I am interested to know how this story is being treated in your countries, so let us know in the comment section. I’m sure it’s a very complex issue and that all sides have some responsibility.

I think this has been a four-way problem – English fans, Russian fans, local French fans and the police. Let’s hope it doesn’t get more out of hand, and I really hope the hooligans just tone it down and focus on enjoying the football rather than causing so much unnecessary damage, trouble and negativity in the press.

I feel like there’s not that much goodwill towards the English at the moment anyway because of the whole Brexit situation. It just makes us look bad, and again it’s to a minority of people who are putting all this stuff on the agenda and in the media.

Also, I feel for the residents of Marseille. I was there just last week, in the area where the violence occurred. It’s a beautiful spot and I expect this has been very disruptive and quite traumatic for local who are just trying to go about their business.

Even though the specifics of what happened are not clear, I am sickened by the actions of some of our fans who act so badly when they’re abroad. It’s appalling really and it’s been like this for years. I don’t really understand it, but I hate these people. It’s tribalism at its worst. Whenever I come across these types of violent football fans at home, I can’t stand it. They’re the worst people to run into, and I’ve always hated that kind of element. I’m not proud of it.

Anyway, this is supposed to be about football, isn’t it! What a pity to start this competition with violence! I wonder how everything will continue both on and off the pitch.

Overview of the EUROS

24 teams this time –
Facts –
Favourites – France, Spain, Germany, England, others… Nobody is the obvious choice.

So far, France won the opening game against Romania.
Wales beat Slovakia quite convincingly.
Switzerland beat Albania.
England drew with Russia.

England vs Russia

I thought England played well in the first half but just couldn’t ‘find the net’ (score). There were some good moments of play between our attacking players, but we really should have scored. Russia improved in the second half but England still had a few chances. There was an amazing save by Russian goalkeeper Akinfeev. Then England won a free kick just outside the penalty box. Some people say it wasn’t a foul. There’s no comment about it in any of the English press I’ve checked online. We scored from the free kick – taken by Dier, with some help from an England player in the wall who blocked the view of the goalkeeper by ducking out of the way of the ball at the last moment. Finally we got the goal we’d been looking for and there was a big celebration but then, our mistake was that we ‘sat back’ (relaxed and stopped attacking) after our goal and Russia took advantage and scored a great header in additional time. Gutted. All the English fans then felt a very familiar feeling – disappointment because we didn’t win. In fact we have still never won our opening game in a EURO championship. So, we’re generally disappointed, even though we played quite well. 1-1 is not too bad really, but we had opportunities and we should have scored more!

The main questions people are asking now are about the usefulness of Stirling, who is quick by lacks ‘end product’, why Vardy was left on the bench for the whole game (he’s a goal scorer), why our tallest striker, Kane, was taking corners, and the usual mickey-taking of Wayne Rooney.

Someone on Facebook:
“Stirling is a useless twat.
Why is Vardy on the bench?
Why is Kane taking corners?
Why does Rooney’s head look like a turnip?
These are the big questions.”

Now, I want to know your comments. Here are some questions.

1. Which team is your favourite? Which team do you predict to be the winner?
2. Which players do you think are worth watching?
3. What did you think of the England vs Russia game?
4. What’s your opinion about the violence this weekend in Marseille? I’ve heard there have been some outbreaks of violence between Polish and French fans in Nice too. What’s the media saying about this in your country?

Let us know your thoughts and opinions! And let’s hope that the drama is played out on the pitch, not in the streets!


346. Rambling on a Friday Afternoon

Phrasal Verbs & Idioms / More NY Stories / Politics / Leicester City / Google Adverts
Welcome back to another podcast episode. It’s nice to be back in your headphones or speakers. In the last episode of this podcast I talked to you about some recent bits and pieces such as the ELTon award nomination, my recent trip to New York and some other stuff. I also gave you a language task to keep you on your toes. I’m going to continue along the same lines in this episode and I have a list of things here to talk about and we’re going to continue with the language spotting exercise.

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It’s a Friday afternoon, I’ve just seen the latest Marvel movie, the weather is mad, and I’m going to talk to you about various things again but first I’ve got to respond to a couple of comments that have arrived here on my website in just the last hour.

Phrasal Verbs & Idioms Listed Below

But first…

Some comments from listeners

Abensour • 4 minutes ago
Hello Luke, Your podcast is fantastic.
Nevertheless, could you please speak a bit faster. I guess you must lower the pace when you record your podcasts and it would be very interesting to hear you with your natural english speaking pace.

Jeremie • 1 minute ago
By the way, I am a french listener as well! :)

Hello Luke and LEP listeners,
It’s with absolute delight that I receive the news that LEP has been nominated for the 2016 ELTons and I genuinely believe other long-term listeners share the same feeling. The British Council and Cambridge English couldn’t have a better candidate for the Digital Innovation category.
One thing that troubled me though was when Luke said it was unlikely that he could win. Luke, I don’t know if you’re being far too English or just trying to be modest but, as I see it, you shouldn’t take this defeatist attitude and underestimate yourself. As you said, LEP is a project you have been working on for over seven years and it keeps getting better as time goes on. Because you’re kind-hearted and keep LEP free, people all over the world listen to you. Your episodes have millions of downloads and are a complete success and, even though you’re up against five other great nominees, I cannot conceive why LEP might not be in the running for the award.
LEP is innovative because it allows learners to listen to genuine English – rambling included – outside a classroom environment. Everyone who has reached a proficient level knows how important being in touch with the language is in order to learn it well. LEP is great because it enables us to hear natural English for pleasure and entertainment or while doing housework, cooking and commuting to college. I am not aware of any other equivalent English teaching resource that suits our busy lives just as well as LEP. I believe any sensible judge on the panel will allow for all those reasons when they vote.
I wish you luck and I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
All the best,

Language Task – Spot the Phrasal Verbs & Idioms

So, that language task from the previous episode was to listen out for a few phrasal verbs and idioms that I’d taken randomly from a dictionary and which I tried to insert into my speech, seamlessly. You had to identify the ones I had added. The purpose of that is to encourage you to notice lexical items – to notice vocabulary. It’s a good habit for a learner of English. On one hand just follow what I’m saying and connect with that, but also try to notice features of the language you’re listening to. That’s what I’m encouraging you to do.

I chose 5 phrasal verbs and 5 idioms and I managed to slip in just one of those phrasal verbs and two of the idioms.
Remember what they were?

There was “to come up against” something.
Also, “to be on the edge of your seat”
and “to get your knickers in a twist”

There were also plenty of other bits of vocabulary which just cropped up in the episode, including these ones:
– to listen out for something
– to watch out and look out for something (not too complicated)
– to keep your eyes peeled
– to prick up your ears

So, as we move forwards now, watch out for the 4 remaining phrasal verbs and 3 remaining idioms. I’m not telling you what they are in advance. It’s up to you to identify them. You’ll probably hear a few phrasal verbs and idioms, but which are the ones that I took from the dictionary? When we get to the end of this episode I’ll tell you the phrases, and clarify them for you, because I’m nice.

Keep reading – the phrasal verbs and idioms are listed below.

Topics in Today’s Ramble

In this one I’m going to carry on just talking about various subjects, including a couple of other anecdotes about New York, some comments about politics in the USA and in the UK at the moment, some more rambling about movies, and various other bits and pieces that will crop up as we go along.

I’ve got no idea how long this is going to take of course! I could talk the hind legs off a donkey this afternoon, but as ever I’ll just divide the whole thing into several more episodes if necessary. Ultimately – it’s all spoken English from me to you, so here we go…

Some more anecdotes about the time spent in NYC
– The hasidic jews jamming in the music store

– Jack Whitehall at the Comedy Cellar

– Billy Cobham at the Blue Note

The American presidential elections – Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton
London Mayor – Sadiq Khan is the new mayor
The EU referendum / Brexit
The Panama papers
These are very important political issues that really deserve to be covered in proper depth, and I plan to do that.
I’m particularly keen to talk about Brexit in one more special Brexit themed episodes.
Leicester City won the Premiership.
Small club, 5000-1 odds of winning. The title has been dominated by the big names. Leicester is in the East Midlands and it’s less famous than a lot of the other big cities in England but this is going to help. All in all it’s just fantastic to see a smaller club win this title. They were absolutely fantastic.

Google Adverts
I bought some new trainers online and now the internet is madly trying to get me to buy them again. WTF?

I’ve just seen the new Marvel movie and also there’s a new Star Wars film coming this Christmas, but that’s going to come in another episode soon…

The Phrasal Verbs & Idioms – Definitions and Examples

Thank you to a LEPster called Valeriya for writing these vocabulary notes in the comment section for the benefit of all listeners.

Valeriya: I wrote some notes. Hope they will be useful for the LEPstors.

to ease off/up – to gradually stop or become less
e.g. At last the rain began to ease off.
e.g. I am leaving soon, but I am just waiting for the traffic to ease off a bit.

to ease off/up – to start to work less or do things with less energy
e.g. As he got older, he started to ease up a little.

to ease off/up – to start to treat someone less severely
e.g. I wish his supervisor would ease up on him a bit.

to fork out (on something) – spend a lot of money on something, probably spend a lot of money in one go in order to buy something; to spend a bunch of money on something in one purchase
e.g. If you advertise nice guitars to me for a long enough period of time, eventually I will fork out on a new guitar.

to splash out (on something) – spend a lot of money on something; to spend a lot of money on something which you want but do not need
e.g. He splashed out on the best champagne for the party.

to go down with something – you catch an illness, you get sick; you become sick; to start to suffer from an infectious disease
e.g. Half of Martha’s class has gone down with flu.

to come down with something – to get an illness; заболеть чем-либо
I came down with the flu at Christmas.
e.g. You need to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, so you’ve got lots of vitamins, because if you don’t, you might come down with a cold.

to bring the house down – if someone or something brings the house down during a play or show, they make the people watching it laugh or clap very loudly; you make everyone laugh as part of a performance; to put on a really great performance and to be a huge hit; to make a group of people or an audience react in a very enthusiastic way, especially by laughing
e.g. I saw Jack Whitehall at the Comedy Cellar, and he absolutely brought the house down.

to go on the offensive – you begin to take strong action against people who have been attacking you
e.g. The West African forces went on the offensive in response to attacks on them.

to go on the offensive – to begin to attack or criticize someone who you think is attacking you
Under pressure from his critics, the minister decided to go on the offensive.
Luke was going on the offensive about Google’s Advertising.

to go on the defensive – in an attitude or position of defense, as in being ready to reject criticism; you start defending yourself or something
e.g. He’s so sensitive. Whenever you give him any feedback he immediately goes on the defensive.

to take/bring somebody down a peg or two – to do something to show someone that they are not as good as they thought they were; to lower someone’s high opinion of themselves
e.g. He’s one of these super-confident types who really needs to be brought down a peg or two.

to dabble in something – to try an activity but not seriously, just as an experiment to see if you like it. To do something for a short time, or not regularly, in order to see if you like it. To do something sometimes, but not in a fully serious way, only in a casual way.
e.g. He dabbled in left-wing politics at university.

197. World Cup 2014 (Part 6: Final Comments)

Here is the final podcast about football, in which I read out your comments from the World Cup forum thread on Comments written in the forum have been corrected by me and now I am going to read them out to you. I will also respond to some of the things listeners have said. I hope you can tell when it’s me giving my opinion and when it’s the comments of a listener. Leave your comments below as usual!

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This is perhaps the longest ever episode of the podcast! I suggest you listen to it in stages ;) By the way, this episode took me about 4 hours to prepare. At least 1 hour to correct and edit the comments, 1hr40mins for the actual recording, and over 1 hour for editing, encoding & uploading the episode. Do consider making a donation for my time.

The World Cup is now over. Germany are the winners for the fourth time. It’s a victory for Europe for the first time in South America. Argentina played really well but ultimately they couldn’t overcome the incredible teamwork, energy, determination and skill of the Germans. Germany have truly been amazing in this tournament and they deserve to be World Champions.

All in all, I’ve massively enjoyed this World Cup. Speaking only of football and atmosphere in the stadiums, Brazil have been great hosts. It’s clear how passionate people get, not only in Brazil but also in America in general. That has resulted in a very dramatic tournament, full of stories and interesting moments. Off the pitch, there is still the controversy hanging over the competition, with plenty of questions being asked about the decisions to spend millions of dollars on developing the stadiums without giving enough money back to the host community in Brazil, which needs investment. Brazil looked brilliant int he competition, with lots of pictures and footage of Brazil’s landmarks, features about Brazil’s culture and the friendliness of the people. Generally, I think the country looked great and I’m sure that’s going to help with tourist revenue and so on. I really hope that the Brazilian people feel the benefit of hosting a great World Cup.

For context, this thread was open in the middle of the quarter final round, before we knew exactly who would be in the semi-finals, before the shocking 7-1 defeat of Brazil by Germany, and before the intense final which Germany ultimately won, allowing them to lift the trophy for the fourth time. Watch out Brazil – Germany could equal your World Cup winning record soon!

So, here are your comments. As ever, it’s great to be able to read out your contributions and I hope you all enjoy listening to messages from around the world. You can read all these (corrected) comments on Just find the page for this episode. You can read phrases there and pick them up. In fact, there are a number of great phrases in this episode – either related to football, or phrases you can also use to talk about other things. Why don’t you listen, read and try to pick out some good phrases and expressions as you come across them?

My Original Comment
The new World Cup thread is now open!
Leave your comments about the World Cup here and I will read them out in a podcast episode.
Here are some questions for you to consider:
1. Which team do you think will win?
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far?
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition?
4. What are some of the best moments so far?
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion?
6. Any other comments?

Elena Nedyalkova
“If Italy wins the World Cup – free pizza
If Germany wins the World Cup – free beer
If Netherlands wins the World Cup – free weed
GO COLOMBIA!!! ” :)))))
June 30, 2014 at 11:56 am #6883

Hello Luke,
I have been enjoying the world cup. Some matches have really surpassed all my expectations. It is really exciting to see Latin American teams go crazy when they win or lose. It is always so emotional. Football is a beautiful game indeed.
1. Which team do you think will win?
Like I said in the first thread, I still think Argentina and Holland are strong favourites. I’m not going to write off Germany and Brazil because they both might get very far. On the other hand, I don’t think France will get too far. With a bit of luck they will get knocked out by Nigeria.
 I’m now most definitelly rooting for Costa Rica. It’s so spectacular that a small nation like that can beat big football nations just because they stick to good tactics and give it everything on the pitch. The Costa Ricans work their socks off in every game. They truly have won my supporter’s heart.
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far?
 Number one star so far is James Rodriguez from Colombia. He has scored 5 goals in 4 matches already and the one against Uruguay was one of the best goals I have ever seen. Other stars are Roben from Holland (despite his diving), Neymar from Brazil (despite his diving and ridilous penalty style). I also think that stars don’t always win matches (and neither do moons). The team spirit is more important. A balanced team like Germany might well go all the way.
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition?
 I am sorry Luke but it is definitelly the fiasco of England, as well as Italy and Spain.
 Another thing that struck me is how strong all the team from both American continents are. Even the USA. I have to aplogize to all Americans. I said previously that they cannot play football or soccer or whatever. Well, turns out they can. Tactically, they have been very good so far. I wonder how much it is due to Jurgen Klinsmann. He seems to to have played a major role in this US team renaissance.
4. What are some of the best moments so far? 
Loads of amazing goals and good shots into the woodwork. I most enjoyed some of the long range goals like the Rodríguez one. And generally the fact that so many goals have been scored up to now. Defensive football is on they wane, hopefully.
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion?
 It has to be the Suarez bite. It’s a shame that one of the best players in the world cup, the one who alone managed to send the England national team home, does something indecent and inhumane like that. It’s the third time he has done this in his career.
 Yet, ironically I feel sorry for him. The suspension is a massive loss for the tournament itself and the major reason Uruguay didn’t stand a chance against Colombia. Clearly he just can’t control his emotions, or you think he might really be a vampire? And why on earth did he hold his teeth like that right after the incident? Like they hurt or something? I mean, if you are a vampire, you might as well do your business in a professional manner. 
I will repeat myself but I can’t help not include the diving phenomoneon among my worst momnents so far. I am absolutely fed up with with all the divers. I mean, come on guys, why don’t you take your bloody snorkels, flippers or fins or whatchamacallit and go diving in your natural habitat, to the sea or lake? Like I said in my previous contribution, divers such as Roben or Suarez are just a disgrace to football. And I reckon we are going to see more of this.
6. Any other comments? 
Luke, could you please stop justifying that you do so many episodes about football? A, it is “way above justifiable”, you are English and you love football and most of the planet loves it. B, Your listeners will be happy whatever you say on the podcast and C, I am sure that your football episodes will defnitely attract more and more listeners. 
Let’s all enjoy the rest of the tournament.
 I’m already excited about today’s games.
Zdenek (Czech Republic)
June 30, 2014 at 4:37 pm #6894

Robert Strzelecki
Hi Luke! 
I come from Poland. My country unfortunately did not qualify for the World Cup, so I had to choose another country to support. I really like watching Germany. They always are determined and focused on their aim.
1. Which team do you think will win?
Before the World CUp I had four favourites: Brazil, Germany, Uruguay and Argentina. I predicted Spain would not play well because of being burnt out (Spain has won everything recently). I thought that teams from South America would have a big advantage because of the climate. My prediction was right. From South America only Ecuador did not qualify. From Europe Only 6 of 13 teams qualified for the last 16. Now I think that the main favourite is Germany. Germany plays very well and I predict the most important match for Germany would be with Brazil in the semi-final. The second semi final I think will be between Argentina and Netherlands but it’s really difficult to say who will win.
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far?
 I think one of the stars is Joel Campbell from Costa Rica. He was from me completely unknown before the World Cup. But He showed that he can play football. Even Arsene Wenger said He wants him to come back to Arsenal from Piraeus. 
Second is the Mexico goalkeeper: Guilllermo Ochoa. He had a few fantastic saves. He was like a wall against Brazil. I am sure that he would not have any problems to find a new club.
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition? The first thing is unfortunately the referees` mistakes. They have made a lot of obvious mistakes: a penalty to brazil, offside to Bosnia & Herzegovina, non given penalty to Netherlands and when Robben was not fouled the referee gave a penalty.
 I have to admit that the best referee so far is Howard Webb even though my country was cheated by him during European Championship in Austria and Switzerland. When he gave an absurd penalty in 90 minutes against Poland. 
Webb did not make any mistakes in the match between Brazil and Chile, although He had some difficult decisions to make.
 I was suprised positively by: Costa Rica, Algiera, Chile and Iran. I was so disappointed after the Brazil and Chile match. Chile played amazingly. They did not calculate, they were not afraid of Brazil. They thought only about winning.
4. What are some of the best moments so far? It’s hard to say one the best moment of World Cup. The whole World Cup is amazing. Almost all the matches were fantastic.
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion?
I think that first is Cameroon`s attitite to the World CUp. They wanted to play for their country only for money. When somebody is called up, He should not think about money, sb should think about how to win. 
Second is definitely Suarez but I think that FIFA gave him too strict a punishment. He should have been fined 2 months without football. 4 months is too long.
June 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm #6895

Andrus Rosenfeld
Hi Luke, 
the World Cup has been amazingly good and entertaining so far. We have seen many nice goals (and yes Luke,girls too),lots of colourful fans and some episodes of cannibalism as a cherry on top. I really like this bloke Suarez..he’s got great teeth and besides this biting fetish he’s been able to play football too.
Of course,sorry about the Three Lions fiasco Luke. There’s always next time for England…
1. Which team do you think will win? 
I still believe that Germany will go all the way,but Brasil and Netherlands
 look strong too. And who knows, maybe Costa Rica will blow a surprise bomb this year.
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far? 
In my previous post I guessed that the star of the world cup would be van Persie, but now I’m not so sure about that anymore. As Zdenek mentioned in his post, James Rodriguez has played brilliant football and scored one really stunning goal. And he is so young, 22 years old only… great future ahead of him I hope.
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition?
 There have been lots of surprises in this tournament. The biggest one in my opinion is Costa Rican success so far.
4. What are some of the best moments so far? 

Best moments…hmmm…I think that will be the first goal van Persie scored against Spain – an impressive diving header. That was really beautiful.
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion? 

There aren’t many of them. In some games the referees acted weirdly, especially in yesterdays game Netherlands vs Mexico, where the referee gave a penalty after Robben’s five-star diving performance. But overall, I’m happy.
6. Any other comments?
 In one of your World Cup episodes you told us the story of how you met Frank Lampard in the loo the other day. I experienced the same situation some time ago, not with mr Lampard of course, but my co-urinator was former Derby County and Sunderland much loved goalie and Estonian former goalkeeper Mart Poom aka Poominator. By the way, after he moved from Derby to Sunderland, he actually SCORED a last minute equaliser against his old team, Derby County on 20th of september 2003. Goalies don’t score much usually as you know… but Poominator did that. You can check this out if you like. 

Enjoy the rest of the tournament everyone!

June 30, 2014 at 6:22 pm #6898

1. Which team do you think will win?
~ Argentina
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far?
~ James Rodriguez
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition?
~ It surprised me that teams like Spain, England, Portugal and Italy: four good teams are out.
4. What are some of the best moments so far?
~ “Robin can Fly” When the Dutch scored a stunning goal against Spain.
~ Miguel Herrera, Mexico’s coach with his emotional celebrations… Funny guy 
~ James Rodriguez of the Colombian team celebrates by salsa dancing with teammates after scoring his first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion?
~ Luis Suarez and his bites.
6. Any other comments?
~ Amazing stadiums in 2014 World Cup Brazil
July 1, 2014 at 8:19 am #6899

Mohammed K.
1. Which team do you think will win?
 I think Germany / the Netherlands (but I hope brazil or Argentina).
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far?
 There are more than one, but Neymar And Messy are the best in my opinion .
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition? 
Stadums in Brazil are good and more than what we expected .
4. What are some of the best moments so far?
 Watching excited beautiful girls supporting their teams !!
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion? 
The worst thing is: missing great teams like Italy , Spain and England in round 16
6. Any other comments? 
Could you please give us some information about football history (when it was invented and who invented it and what are the reasons behind its popularity in your opinion?
 And why do you think it’s very popular in south America and Europe but less in Asia and north America? (is it a big question? )
 And by the way, how can I modify my comments if I want ? Is it possible ?
July 1, 2014 at 1:53 pm #6907

Hi dear teacher Luke, 
Glad we’re moving on with this kind of episode.
1. Which team do you think will win?
- Sadly, all those I rooted for earlier lost except for Brazil and they’ve been fantastic so far, so I hope Brazil wins. Or Costa Rica.
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far?
- I don’t really see them as some sort of stars. Don’t like that term ’cause it can have negative connotations. And being referred as a ‘star’ often turns them into some arrogant prima donnas or untouchable idols who then usually get carried away with fame, money and everything, so we have divers, ‘ballet dancers’ time wasters… or even ‘Hannibal Lectors’ on the pitch and that can be pretty annoying to watch. Excellent football players who can focus on the game and do what they came for – yes. Frankly, I admire goalkeepers like Ochoa, Navas and Cesar. Also Neymar (Brazil) is great and I’d rather call those colorful fans in the stadiums ‘stars’ (in a positive way). They seem more interesting sometimes than all the divers together.
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition?
- I was very surprised by some referees who appeared to be so unjust thinking we were all blind and had no clue about what a penalty is and what it’s not, what’s clear goal, foul… Com’ on people! I’m a girl and they couldn’t fool me, not to mention you men and hard core football fans who know much more. 
Oh, Costa Rica also surprised me. They’re gooooood! Yeah!
4. What are some of the best moments so far?
- Cracking goals by Brazilians and Costa Ricans. Plus every penalty there was so far, even the missed ones.
- Slow motion parts that show funny gestures on footballers’ faces and their weird body moves. Priceless!
- I found only a few of those lads there handsome and cute, but I forgot their names. Oops!
 And again: BiH in World Cup 2014 for the first time ever. Ole!
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion?
- Referees made so many mistakes. Technology should be introduced so that they can’t dictate the final result. I wish I was wrong, but I’m afraid the mistakes still being made were precalculated and agreed on beforehand. At first Croatia was robbed in the first game against Brazil, Iran was robbed against Argentina, Bosnia was robbed against Nigeria, USA was robbed against Portugal… do I need to go on?! And sadly, there will be more such things that kill joy and fun. Don’t you think it is better to lose fair than win cheating?
 My country’s team was disqualified unfairly by an obvious mistake by the ref. – the crystal clear goal by Edin Džeko was chalked off for offside. 
Really?! Oh, leave it out, will you! 
And that was, of course, just one of the horrible decisions in that game. To be honest, our coach made a few mistakes, players made a few mistakes, weather conditions were bad, BUT – that was a clear goal.
 Also a goal for Nigeria is still debatable, but many people say it was actually a foul.
 Later BiH won in their third match 3:1, so if that clear goal had been allowed by ref. Bosnia’d be in 1/8 and who knows what else might have happened. And that’s just one of the examples, so who wouldn’t be cheesed off after all that!?! 
Anyway, chin up and move on. 
One more thing, the stadiums are splendid + it all looks spectacular, but too much money has been spent on them… too much.
6. Any other comments?
- About Suarez: he is a very good football player and it’s such a pity he got so low and repeated the same mistake again. No doubt he needs professional help. It’s sad. I feel for both, him and that Italian he bit. And bella Italia lost too – oh dear! 
When this all ends soon I’ll go on vacation to finally REST!!! Yippeee! 
Greetings from Bosnia!
July 1, 2014 at 10:15 pm #6910

Hi Luke,
Thank you so much for reading out my comment! I really felt honoured and I couldn’t help smiling, although I was on the train again when I heard it and to the people around me I must have looked a little bit like an idiot somehow. But then I immediately got addicted to hearing you read out my comments, so here’s another one …
1. Which team do you think will win? 
Basically I don’t dare to say it out loud, but as it’s, strictly speaking, not me who is actually saying it, I may be able to write it only once and as quiet as I can: us (Germany).
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far?
 I’d still vote for Guillermo Ochoa, the Mexican keeper at this point, but I totally agree with you: Rais M’Bolhi, the Algerian keeper, was brilliant, yesterday. Really impressive. The German media all idolised Maunel Neuer [pronounced “noyer”] for saving our neck yesterday, but in my opinion he played way too dangerously and had had more than just a little bit of dumb-luck that the Algerians weren’t able to take advantage of the empty goal at least once. (I’m afraid I need a little bit of language coaching here, is that right? Two “hads” and all that? And even more important: does it still sound natural that way? I wrote it intuitively and now I have no idea where to look up such a complicated sentence.)
Here’s a corrected version: he played way too dangerously and had more than just a little bit of dumb-luck in that the Algerians weren’t able to take advantage of the empty goal at least once.
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition? 
Spain, England, Italy. And Joachim Löw (or as i like to call him: J-LÖ), when he selected Shkodran Mustafi for our team. Mustafi plays for Sampdoria Genua and hardly anyone in Germany knows him.
4. What are some of the best moments so far?
 The Interview Per Mertesacker gave to the German media yesterday right after the Match was simply brilliant. He got really annoyed by the stupid questions the reporter was asking and he didn’t try to hide it. (You can read it here:
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion?
 As you mentioned earlier, it’s the fact that the money spent on the event is desperately needed everywhere else in Brazil. And even worse, everybody knows that FIFA are sucking out the last drop of whatever they can get from a country that’s hosting the world cup, and nobody is actually leaning up against it. Once the first game is kicked off, we all (and that includes myself as well) get hypnotised by the goings-on on the pitch and we keep losing track of what’s going on as a whole. Then FIFA pack up, literally leaving scorched earth, and take our attention with them wherever they head for and nobody cares about the social conditions in Brazil anymore after the world cup has moved elsewhere. I really hope, that the cycle can be broken someday. (Can I say it like that? I’ve looked up “Teufelskreis” – literally it would be translated to “devil’s circle” – and I found “catch-22″, “doom loop”, “vicious circle”, “break the cycle” and a few other things, but i still wonder which one might be a common expression. What’s “catch-22″ anyway?).
 ,A vicious circle – that’s the best one.
. Any other comments? 
Oh yes. I almost forgot: You’ve talked a little bit about donations. And I’ve got something to say to all the LEPpers out there: I can recommend to all of you, who can afford a little donation: donate to Luke’s English Podcast! You will enjoy listening to Luke even more!
July 2, 2014 at 4:45 am #6911

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Klinger Wilkson
1. Which team do you think will win?
Brazil !!!!!!!!!!!
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition?
the tournament is definitely full of surprises, teams that we were not expecting to be strong enough are now proving us wrong, and playing in the same level as the strongest teams, I reckon
6. Any other comments? 
I would just like to thank you, because I never had a chance before. Your podcast has been my main resource of english and has helped me a lot. when i started listening to it i was just able to understand a few words , and now I still face difficulties but I can understand most of it, and it’s a big achievement for me. I owe it to you. 
Thank you very much

July 2, 2014 at 7:53 pm #6916

Hi Dear teacher Luke,
Brazil was about to lose the penalties against chile. I’m not their fan but 
I am happy that they are still in competition. Can you imagine a world cup 
without England, Italy , spain and Brazil?
 I believe that a final match between Brazil and Netherlands can be 
the most exciting final.
Who is The star? and what is the best moment so far? 
I never forget what luis suarez did and 
the scene when Chiellini (italian player) tried to show his shoulder to the
 What would you do if someone bit you while playing!!?? 
It’s interesting that I heard he is going to play in Barcelona after 4 months!! It’s funny.
 And I want to say that I am writing From Iran. I’m sure that you have never been to Iran. 
I personaly have listened to all of your podcasts. We like you and respect you a lot.
Best Wishes
July 3, 2014 at 7:50 am #6921

Hi Luke, I’m Vaibhav from India. You are right we are pretty bad at playing football, but we compensate that by winning the cricket world cup 2011.
1. Which team do you think will win?
 I think we will see Germany vs. Netherland in final.
2. Who is the star of this world cup so far?
 James Rodriguez from Colombia. He is at the top of the table for the Golden Boot Award.
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition? 
When underdog teams like Costa Rica, Colombia & Belgium qualified for the quater final. I would love to see atleast one of them in semi finals.
4. What are some of the best moments so far? 
Best moment will be if Luke presents the trophy to the winning team in Brazil. That will be great.
5. What are the worst things about this world cup in your opinion? 
Three worst things are:
 time wasting, fake injuries and putting too much pressure on players by their local media.
6. Any other comments
How is your brother James? Is he fully recovered from his shoulder injury? & Is he enjoying world cup or just stop watching it after England…
Thanx Luke
July 6, 2014 at 1:22 pm #6981


Which team do you think will win?
Well I’m not so sure now, but I think Netherlands team will win.
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far? 
Lionel Messi
What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion?
 I don’t know really but I think in 2010 I was so excited for the world cup and this year it’s still not exciting. Maybe because it’s a predictable competition.
6. Any other comments?
Thank you for reading out my previous comment but I’m a girl you said “He” last episode Jilmani is my surname and my name’s JAWZA it means ‘Gemini‘ in English.
July 8, 2014 at 8:35 am #7017

Luke Thompson
Sorry Jilmani! I’ll get it right next time
July 7, 2014 at 3:20 am #6991

Hello Luke, I am originally Russian-Ukrainian from Argentina, so basically I´ve been rooting for Argentina from the start.
1. Which team do you think will win? 
I´ll be happy with either Argentina, since I live here, or Germany, cuz they are amazing and I love the way they conduct and play on the pitch not to mention the fact I love this country and their language so badly. They both have the potential to win.
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far? 
James Rodriguez
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition? 
The way Belgium performed (cool guys)
4. What are some of the best moments so far? 
Both surprised and amused – the elimination of Spain, Italy and Portugal. Surprised because they are kinda super famous football teams, and even though I do not have anything against those countries, I was pleased to see those primadonas being out, they’re not as cool as they think they are.
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion?
 The amount of money being spent on it, the football is amazing, but not that important to be valued more than the people´s primary needs.
6. Any other comments? 
Earlier this month I went to Ecuador, and an amazing thing was I noticed that the day Ecuador was playing half the country virtually didn´t work, and the day they won, it was an unofficial day off for everybody.
July 8, 2014 at 11:10 pm #7022

At this point, Germany defeated Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final.
Luke Thompson
Words that come to mind:

The game turned so quickly. 5 goals in about 30 minutes. Brazil collapsed after the first goal. They seemed to completely lose themselves. Mentally, they were defeated after 3 goals. Germany were excellent, and their teamwork shone brilliantly as they dismantled Brazil on the counter attack. I thought that Germany was going to keep scoring. For a moment I was concerned that there was going to be a dangerous reaction from angry supporters. In fact, so far the fans are just upset and hurt rather than enraged.
This result was a combination of a Brazilian collapse and a stunning display of teamwork by the Germans.

This is the biggest humiliation in international football that Brazil has ever experienced. I look at images of the audience in tears; kids crying, people in floods of tears and it’s actually very moving. I can’t help feeling sorry for everyone. I realise that Brazil actually did very well to get to the semi-finals (much better than England for example) but this massive defeat, in this manner, at home – it must be terribly painful. I can’t say for sure how it feels for the Brazilians, I’m just speculating really but it seems to have been a pretty powerful blow. I’ve always admired Brazil for it’s passionate footballing spirit. It’s clear that it’s a very emotional thing for the Brazilians, so I feel the pain. This game is going to haunt Brazil for years. They’re still getting over losing the 1950 World Cup final at home. This is worse than that I think. The players may never live it down. I feel sorry for them. It’s a lot of pressure to carry on your shoulders. Thank goodness Brazil didn’t lose to a neighbouring country because that would have made it more humiliating.
What happened to the team?
 First of all, it was not the strongest Brazilian team we’ve seen. Neymar is brilliant, but you need more strength in the team as a whole. After all, it is a team game. When Neymar was injured and was unable to play I think that must have been like a punch in the stomach for the other players. Then their captain Tiago Silva was not allowed to play due to receiving 2 yellow cards in the previous two games. To an extent he let the side down. The team badly missed the leadership of their captain, and the mental security of having these two key players on the pitch. This meant that they were not quite mentally prepared for the pressure of this game. 
So, lesson learned: Don’t rely of individuals. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This is an example of how Germany has developed a great team, and a great footballing infrastructure. What a great example of team work. They were amazing on the counter attack. Without wishing to perpetuate stereotypes, this is a perfect example of German efficiency and pragmatism. It shows that football is a team sport. The team is bigger than any individual stars. I think this team is now a formidable force, and this is modern football at its best. 
The Germans in Brazil must have felt almost embarrassed or sheepish, especially the players on the pitch. The final whistle must have been a relief, in a way, because they must have felt a bit embarrassed about humiliating Brazil at home like that, although they must have been delighted too – of course. Still, they deserve the victory. They were brilliant.

On balance – Brazil, please don’t feel too bad. You’ve still won 5 World Cups. Some countries have never won, and some countries hardly ever get into the cup in the first place. 
All in all, I feel sorry for the Brazilian team. Sure, they were responsible for their defeat, but I hope the country gives them a chance and doesn’t treat them too harshly. All they wanted was to bring joy to the hearts of their people, and in the end they just caused them emotional pain. Scolari will probably take responsibility for this.

On Facebook I’ve been saying “Welcome to the club” for every team that gets knocked out. “Welcome to the club” is a phrase you can use to say “me too”, especially if more than one person is involved. For example, I’ve just been told that I have to wait here for another hour before seeing the doctor – “yeah, welcome to the club. We’ve been here for an hour and a half”. In this case, it was a club of teams that had been knocked out, starting with Spain, Portugal and England. Some of the original members of this esteemed club, which grew and grew during the competition. Sorry if my comments seem flippant (which means making light of serious things, perhaps when you shouldn’t). I’m just kidding, but really – if your team has been knocked out, you are in a club of friendly people who know how you feel.


Has Brazil’s great history has perhaps caused the Brazilians to get complacent? Has the Brazilian football bubble burst?
 Who is going to win this World Cup? Can the Netherlands or Argentina stop Germany? Don’t forget about Messi!
 If Argentina win this World Cup, will this make things even worse for Brazil?

July 9, 2014 at 9:41 am #7029


Now the best moment for me is defenitally the game of Germany against Brazil, 7 goals in just a semi-finall!!! That´s impressve!!! Germany, ole, ole!!!!

July 8, 2014 at 11:47 pm #7023

Wow! I’m over the moon! What a game!
 I expected that the Germans would beat the Brazilians in the semifinal, but 5-0 at half time and 7-1 at full time… I didn’t see that coming. In addition, Klose manage to beat “Fat” Rolando’s record by scoring his 16th goal in any world cup.
 I mentioned before that the Germans play as a team and not based on one or two stars… so, in this game it was clear to see. Players without an ego, a team that shares the ball and wins as a team. Well done.
 So, let’s get down to business… my answers to your questions:
1. Which team do you think will win? 
Germany, I hope that they mange to win the final against whomever it will be. I think they deserve it.
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far?
 The Germans as a team! 
I think that football should be more about teams and less about individuals. After all, football is not tennis.
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition?
 Although that there were a lot of surprising things in this world cup, I think that the most surprising thing is the fact that Spain didn’t manage to pass the group stage.
4. What are some of the best moments so far? 
The first half of the Germany-Brazil semifinal match… watching a team score 5 goals in 30 minutes! It was priceless! As a fan of Germany’s national team, it was delightful!
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion? 
You talked a lot about the money spending… I agree that this subject is a bit controversial. There are lots of issues, in Brazil but all around the world as well. As a middle-east citizen, I think that there are major problems that the world needs to deal with without getting too much into politics… I don’t think that Luke’s English podcast should be the place to debate about it, at least not in this episode. [I hope the world can focus on fixing problems with similar amounts of interest and intensity as we focus on the World Cup]
6. Any other comments?
 I have a question about the phrase “at the time”. In world cup thread number one, I wrote “at the time” and you corrected it to “at one time”. Generally speaking I use this phrase when I would like to refer to action that had been made in the past (more or less like “once upon a time” that used in fairy tale) 
Do I use it wrongly? Is “at the time” is a phrase at all? If yes, how should I use it correctly? 
Anyhow, as usual I would like to thank you a lot for teaching us English. I really appreciate the fact you do it.
Yaron (Israel).
“At the time” – use this phrase when referring to a time you have already mentioned. Use “at one time” when you haven’t mentioned the past period at all – no context has been given, and there’s nothing to refer back to. “At the time” – here you’re using ‘the’ and this refers to something that’s already been stated. E.g. “Did I ever tell you about when I met David Beckham? I was living in Japan at the time.” (Here we’ve already established a past event, and ‘the’ is referring back to that)
“At one time I didn’t know anything about grammar at all, but now I know quite a lot.” (Here we use ‘one’ because it’s the first time you’re referring to a past moment, and so it’s just one of many. It’s a bit like the difference between using “a/an” and “the”)

July 9, 2014 at 12:05 am #7024

Mohammed K.
 – Unbelievable !
 What happened to Brazil??
 I think Germany won not because they are very strong , but because Brazil were very weak, especially the defence line .
I was about to cry !!
It’s a shock for brazil lovers around the world !
July 9, 2014 at 9:22 am #7028

Haya? Well. Despite being so passionate about Brazilian football I have to admit that the Germans taught us a great lesson yesterday. In addition they were relentless, organized, more focused and they definitely deserved to go through. Well done Germans! As for Brazil, the fat lady has sung, sorry.

 [It’s not over until the fat lady sings]'t_over_till_the_fat_lady_sings This refers to stereotyped images of operas (perhaps German ones) which often culminate with a final aria by a fat female character. The opera isn’t finished until the fat lady sings. We use it in football to say “There’s still time for this game to change, so don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
July 9, 2014 at 5:17 pm #7032

Justice, Luke, justice. I think Germany deserve to win the World Cup, why? Because they have won because of their skills and football not because of the referees help. Anyway I’m from Mexico and we still can’t get over it, it wasn’t a penalty.

 [Referring to the Robben dive & penalty against Mexico]
July 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm #7033

Hi again,
That match between Brazil and Germany last night was a massacre. That HURT! Well, the Brazil team was weakened without Neymar and Silva, but the result SEVEN! : 1 was beyond my expectations. I couldn’t help not to start laughing after the third goal and the rest of the game seemed like “not suitable for children under 14″.
 I must admit I feel sorry for all Brazilian fans. It looked like a living nightmare for them and sadly, so many hearts were broken last night. Also being a host and competing must have been a heavy burden to carry. I’d just say it’s football. It happens to the best, if that helps. Sorry Brazilians! 
Whoever gets to play against Germany – watch out! 
Luke, did you notice how their players reacted after they received that one goal, despite the result of 7:1? Like: “What?! who’s fault was it? How could we allow that? Grrrrr…”
 That’s the winning mentality that many footballers lacked so far. Respect and salute! Also a lesson to other coaches about how they should prepare their teams before any game.
 You wrote: “The team is bigger than any individual stars.” I was saying that before ’cause I totally agree. 
I think I’ll watch the remaining games just for entertainment and good sport. And I hope nobody gets a heart attack or anything.
 May the best team win. 
P.S. I also thought Jilmani is HE and not SHE. Hahahaha… Hello Jilmani! Glad there are more girls on this topic!
July 9, 2014 at 8:26 pm #7034

More questions.. more answers: 
Has Brazil’s great history perhaps caused the Brazilians to get complacent? 
I don’t think it is about getting complacent, it is the about the absence of leadership. After the first goal, The Brazilians got a punch in their stomach, but they still functioned more or less, but after the second goal they totally collapsed. In my opinion, it was mainly because Neymar and/or Da Silva weren’t on the pitch. I think that absence of the talent of these players was not as important as the leadership of these players. No one in the Brazil team had faith that they could win at this point, and they were missing a leadership player that could encourage the team members (by saying stuff like that it still possible, that there still a chance to win). 
Has the Brazilian football bubble burst? 
No, I think that Brazil was and will be one of the top-ten teams. They have a lot of talent and a lot of passion to the game. In my opinion, if someday someone teaches them the meaning of synergy, than they will have it all (Talent, passion & team play) 
Who is going to win this World Cup? Can the Netherlands or Argentina stop 
Germany? Don’t forget about Messi!
For sure, whoever will play against Germany in the final will be the underdog, but after all it is football, you can never know… all the options are still open. Whatever will happen, I really hope that it will be a fair game.
 If Argentina win this World Cup, will this make things even worse for Brazil?
 I think that the Brazilians hit rock bottom yesterday, and it can’t be worse than that. So my answer is no.
 I would say at this point that I really feel sorry for the Brazilians and it really was uncomfortable watching Brazil supporters broken up as well as watching the Brazilian players cry at the end of the game. 
By the way: what’s the story with all these rainy men?… football players are men, aren’t they?… is football is about diving and crying? Shouldn’t it be a tough game? Just kidding… it’s just me writing nonsense… :) 
Ok, in about an half hour the next semifinal will kick off. Whatever will happen in it and whatever will happen in the finals, I remind to all of us (winner and loser): Always look at the bright side of life  
Thanks again and bye bye bye bye 
July 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm #7036

In response to the utterance that Brazil got weakened without Neymar, that’s, I think, a good wake up call for them – not to put all your expectation on just one player, this is a team sport, there should be a strong team, not just one person.
By the way, I wonder why your country, Luke, is represented by just England, not the UK, not the Great Britain?
July 10, 2014 at 4:46 pm #7037
[The UK is actually a union of four countries and in most sports the players represent one of those 4 countries, except in the Olympics]

Hello teacher Luke, I’m Luciana from Brasil = )
1. Which team do you think will win? I hope Argentina. Nothing can be worse to Brasil than what happened in the semi-final. Having said that, I hope that Argentina can honour Latin America.
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far? 
Costa Rica’s team. ahahahah
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion?
 1- That it is happening here in Brasil (for the well known reasons) 
2- Ronaldo as commentator (someone said that with two more remarks he will equal Pelé’s stupidity record)
 3- Costa Rica’s elimination
 4- Brasil fans booing the team when it’s losing. 
6. Any other comments? 
What I really came here to tell you is this: Do you know who is to blame for that disastrous Germany 7×1 Brasil? Mick Jagger.
 Brasil losing the match is not his fault, but since I’ve seen the promotional video about Monty Phyton’s reunion, and noticed that Mick Jagger was watching a football match narrated by one of the most known (and most disliked) brasilian football narrators, Galvão Bueno, I sensed disaster…
ps. Just so you know, it’s a well known fact here in Brazil that everytime Mick declares his support for Brasil, the team loses the match. He is what we call “pé-frio” (cold feet in a direct translation, someone who gives bad luck to others).
July 13, 2014 at 4:12 am #7039

jhon vidal 

hi, Luke Fluke! I remember in one of your old podcasts you mention that. Haha, 
I´m just kidding!! I’d like to congratulate you on your great podcast because I’ve listened to it for 1 year and a half and it has helped me a lot. Thanks!!
 Sorry for all my typing errors.
 By the way I am Jhon from mexico!
1. Which team do you think will win?
 obviously Germany.
2. Who is the star of the World Cup so far?
 I think Mullen from Germany
3. What has surprised you the most in this competition?
Big teams have not passed next round such as a Spain, Portugal, England, Italy and
 many South American teams qualified such as Costa Rica and the most recent disappointment of Brazil. Nobody expected this final result 7-1.
4. What are some of the best moments so far? Well, the most recent has been the good game of Germany because the game Holland vs Argentina for me was a little boring.
5. What are the worst things about this World Cup in your opinion?
 Let me see… I think the bite of Luis Suarez, the acting or performances by Robben and the refereeing in some games.
6. Any other comments? 
I hope Germany win because this is the team that I support after eliminated Mexico. It 
would be nice if you did a podcast on schools in Uk because I´m interested in studying in a school in the Uk. 
Also it would be good to upload videos on youtube as you did in the interviews in london.
 By the way you’ve got a good sense of humor I laugh a lot with your sarcasm – hilarious!! haha 
thanks for all Luke!!

July 13, 2014 at 1:17 pm #7041

Hello Luke
Unfortunately , it is time to say goodbye to World Cup 2014 , which was amazingly eventful and entertaining. Today’s final match is going to be fascinating , because in my opinion even if everybody bets on the German team, I think there is no favourite in such an important game , both teams have equal chance to win . Before the first Argentina match I was worried about their defence but now it turned out that they have probably the best defence , led by Javier “Rambo” Mascherano I can’t wait to see Leo Messi with the World Cup ! My prediction : Argentina will win in a penalty shootout. 
PS . Don’t worry Brazil ! It could be worse…. actually…no it couldn’t
July 15, 2014 at 11:00 am #7043

Luke Thompson
Hello, this thread is now closed and I plan to upload a podcast with your comments in the next day or two.
Thanks for commenting!
If you have other comments to make, you can write in other forum threads.

196. Cycling from Coast to Coast

Almost exactly one year ago, Ben Fisher was on the podcast telling us about his cycling trip from London to Paris. Now he’s back to tell us about his latest cycling adventure. Last time he cycled a total of 484.7km. This time he more than doubled that distance cycling 1223.42km from the north coast of France all the way down to the south coast. It was a much longer and more difficult trip and he’s here on the podcast to tell us all about it! Right-click here to download this episode.

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Click here to revisit 136. Cycling from London to Paris. (Have I really uploaded 60 episodes in the last 12 months? Wow.)

Click here to visit Ben’s blog where you can read all about this cycling trip, look at photos and read all the stats about his journey.

Follow Ben on Twitter @DrainBamms:

Click here to visit That’s the website for cyclists who would like to share accommodation with each other.

If you’d like to contribute a transcript for this, click here to access a google doc for 196 Cycling from Coast to Coast.

Picture (c) Kate Fisher (Ben’s sister) – Check out her great illustrations at

194. World Cup 2014 (Part 5: More Forum Comments)

Luke reads out more comments from listeners about Brazil 2014 from the World Cup Comments Thread #2 on the discussion forum. These are all comments which have been sent in by listeners from around the world.

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World Cup 14 is still in full swing, with plenty of surprises, knockouts and some biting as well. All the comments that I’m going to read out in this episode were posted by LEPsters on the discussion forum. I’ve corrected them, and you can read all these corrected versions on the webpage for this episode. I’m now going to read out the comments that you sent in, as a way of giving everybody a voice and an opportunity to contribute thoughts, feelings and opinions to another global episode of LEP.

Let’s get started.

BTW, if you’re not a football fan – don’t worry, normal podcasting still continues. In fact, this is a very fruitful time for LEP as I’ve managed to record quite a lot of episodes recently. You’ll notice I’ve uploaded a series on culture shock, and I’ve got some more episodes up my sleeve. So it’s not just football football football!

Comments from the World Cup 2014 Forum Thread #2
This thread begun on 20 June and closed on 30 June. These things happened in that period: England had already been knocked out, Italy were beaten by Costa Rica and Uruguay and were knocked out, Luis Suarez became the most talked about player of the tournament after biting Italian player Giorgio Chiellini, France stuffed Switzerland 5-2 but both went through to the second round, Algeria beat the Korean Republic 4-2 – and all the Algerians in Paris went mental. All these teams were knocked out in the group stages: England, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Cameroon, Australia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Ecuador, Honduras, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iran, Ghana, Russia, Korea Republic. In the second round we’ve said goodbye to: Chile, Uruguay, Nigeria & Algeria, Mexico and Greece. That leaves us with these teams left: France vs Germany, Brazil vs Colombia on one side, and Netherlands vs Costa Rica, Argentina/Switzerland & Belgium/USA on the other side.
As I have said before, things move pretty quickly in the world cup and when you listen to this, the situation might be completely different. Nevertheless, there’s a bit of context for you.

Here’s the post I left at the beginning of the thread, inviting people to take part:

Hi everyone,
I’ve already recorded an episode in which I read out your comments about The World Cup from this forum. I’d like to record another one later in the competition (perhaps next week at the end of the group stage, or just before the quarter finals).
So please leave more comments that you would like me to read out on the podcast.
Here are some questions for you to consider:
At this stage:
1. Which teams do you think will be in the final?
2. Which team do you think will win?
3. What is your favourite moment of the World Cup so far, in your opinion?
4. Who is the star player of this World Cup, in your opinion?
5. Which country are you from/supporting? How’s their performance so far?
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014?
As before, I will correct your comments before reading them out on the podcast.
 You don’t have to give your name, you can leave anonymous comments if you prefer, but do tell me where you come from.
I reserve the right to not read out any comments, for any reason.
So, get writing! Let’s make another episode of LEP together!

Mohammed K
Germany, The Netherlands, Italy. 
One of these three teams will be in the final match, I guess.
Which team do I support ? I like Arg. , Braz. & Urg. 
I like the Latin American playing style, and I also like the English playing style (the long ball style) .
(I feel sad they lost last night. And I hope they go to the next stage)..
The star player? I think it’s Naymar (Brazil).
Thank you teacher Luke,,,
Mohammed , from Saudi Arabia
Hope to see you in Saudi Arabia one day.

Hi Luke,
To be honest I don’t like football at all, but how can you avoid it during the World Cup ? There is no way. I decided to be interested in football at least during the World Cup because that’s important to know some news if you want to make small talk with people around you.
Here are my answers to your questions:
1. Which teams do you think will be in the final?
 I would say Switzerland and England.. What? England has left ? Don’t worry Switzerland will follow them very soon. Honestly I don’t know who can be in the final.
2. Which team do you think will win?
 Luke’s English Podcast will win!
3. What is your favourite moment of the World Cup so far, in your opinion?
 My favorite moments are when everybody spent a good time watching a game, wherever they come from.
 By the way is it favorite or favourite? What’s the right spelling?
4. Who is the star player of this World Cup, in your opinion? 
Luke Thompson because he’s doing an amazing job for his listeners.
5. Which country are you from/supporting? How’s their performance so far?
 I’m from Switzerland and we will know this evening if they can continue in the competition or not but now when you are listening to this episode you already know the result and that’s amazing!
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014?
 This is the first time that I’m interested in football because Switzerland is playing and because of YOU Luke Thompson ;)
As long as I can learn something in English with you that’s fine, even about football. So thank you so much Luke, well done, you won!

I’m sorry but England got the same plane ticket with Spain.

Hi Luke.
I just want to say, I’m so sorry about England’s fate against Uruguay, but well, that’s the way football/soccer is.
1st question: I think Germany, Argentina, Colombia or Nederlands could be fighting for the champion’s title.
3rd question: probably 2 great moments, first one when Geoffroy Serey Die /juffwaar serey deeyay/ from Cote d’ Ivore cried while singing his country’s anthem. And personally I really love the community spirit at competitions, by sharing with people from all over the world.
5th question: I’m from Colombia, and I’m cheering and shouting for my team from Miami, Florida. I think they’re going to write a new chapter in South America soccer’s history.
6th question: Just awesome. Even though there’s some social business to deal with. I love brasilian people.
Thank you so much Luke! Cheers!
Ps: don’t forget that “getting inhebriated experiment while recording” haha.

Hi. How you doing? Does it still hurt? )))
 I always thought that Roy Hodgson is the worst England team manager ever. He broke everything at Liverpool FC before he became coach of the three lions.
Don’t even try to understand why and how. It’s ridiculous and illogical, but I am a Ukrainian guy who has been living in Denmark for 3 years, a Liverpool FC fan and a fan of Holland/Netherlands. It’s complicated, of course if Holland play with Ukraine I will be on my native country’s side… The 
Ukrainian team, as you know, was in the same group as England (draws 1-1 and 0-0) and finished in 2nd place. We lost in a play-off agaist France, won the first game 2-0, lost the second to France 0-3. Unfortunately our players underestimated the contender and they thought that they were already in Brasil after first game.
Who is the star player of this World Cup, in your opinion?
 Luis Suares maybe…I don’t know. Actually it could be anyone… Costa-Rica’s players have shown us, that everything is possible, even nobody expected that result in the group of death.
C’mon Holland !!! I have been supporting you from my childhood. Holland has one huge problem as England with penalties. – They smash all contenders in the group stage, but then become tired and lose in knockout stages. I hope they don’t , but if they lose I’ll support any European team (except Portugal – I hate divers) and Russia coz it’s obvious I’m from Europe.
Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014?
I feel the Brazilian financial pain, because we had Euro2012 in Ukraine and it seems that only UEFA and the corrupt government won …I understand that it’s an allegation, but anyway… The same shit, in my opinion, was in the winter olympic games 2014 in Russia. The Russian government spent about 51 billion dollars compared to about 3 billion in Vancuver 2010 in the previous games. Were those games 17 times better??? I don’t know…
Thanks for your attention. 
Oleksandr from Ukraine/Denmark

Hi Luke! First of all, I am sorry about England… Honestly I think you deserve better results. You have an interesting young team for the next years though…
1. Which teams do you think will be in the final?
According what we have seen so far, Germany, Holland, France, Argentina, Brasil…should be at least in the semis. Then sometimes it’s a bit of luck. Let´s say Germany and Argentina! A revenge of the Italy 90 would be great!
2. Which team do you think will win?
If I had to bet money I would say Germany. I want Argentina to win though.
3. What is your favourite moment of the World Cup so far, in your opinion?
It’s hard to say in just one moment. I would say it’s been a really interesnting championship, with loads of goals, great matches, new teams coming out and going through to the next round like Costa Rica or Colombia.
4. Who is the star player of this World Cup, in your opinion?
Before Argentina and Germany play their second matches I think Benzema is stunning so far.
5. Which country are you from/supporting? How’s their performance so far?
I am Spanish, supporting Argentina. The first match was not as good as we expected, but with Messi there everything is possible!
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014?
It’s my first World Cup abroad (I’m living in London) and it’s been a good experience! I’ve got free time in the evenings to watch them every day either at home or having good ales in the pub so that’s great! The World Cup always reminds me of my childhood somehow so I’m enjoying it a lot.
BYE BYe Bye bye…
PS: Can I correct a little mistake you made saying my name in the last podcast?? (Well, and in some others…haha) In my name the “I” comes before the “T”. So it’s Aritz instead Artiz! But nevermind!!

Hi! My Name is Nicolás, from Argentina. I support my national team, of course, but I think the finalists will be between Germany and the Netherlands, and the Germans will win their fourth cup.
The best player in the competition so far is Luis Suárez, from Uruguay (sorry Luke!)
As I said before, I support Argentina, as I’m from that country. How’s our performance so far? Well… at least we won. Messi is amazing, but I’m a little worried about the rest of the team.
For me, this World Cup is spectacular. I’m particularly happy because, in general, Latin American teams are doing great in this competition. I’m talking about Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Costa Rica… I love to watch how Latin American football is becoming more and more competitive.
By the way, you can pronounce my name as “Nicholas”. The proper pronunciation in Spanish is “nick-all-ass”, but, as you can imagine, probably it’s not a good idea to pronounce it the Spanish way because of the last syllable.

Hi Luke, I’ve been listening to your podcasts for 3 months because I’m going to take a test called “Bulats” (Business Language Testing Service). Anyway thank you for doing this, let’s talk about the World Cup. I’m Mexican and obviously I support my country of course. I feel sorry for England. I know how it feels. Luke, do you think the weather affects the European countries in this competition? I think it is probably according to the results of the European players, and it seems the South American players are taking advantage of the situation. We all can see that, right? I can’t wait to see Netherlands play against a South American country. In summary I think the weather is one of the main factors in this World Cup. Thank for reading this and Viva Mexico! (Sorry for my English )
Ps my name can be pronounced 
like this: an-hell tread-bee-no

Hi Luke and thanks a lot for your website: I found it some weeks ago, browsing on the internet, and now I’m completely addicted. There are a lot of similar websites offering podcasts in English but the problem is that most of them are in American English and, generally, they treat learners like babies: I mean, they speak with a completely unnatural voice, the same kind of voice we have when we talk with our babies. You sound very natural (like a real friend) and that’s why I think you are unique! 
About football, I’m italian so I support Italy, of course. You know, after Brazil (5 times world champion) we are the most awarded team in the world (we won the world championship 4 times). However, this time, I think we should apologize. In fact, because of us, England was damaged twice: the first, because of our victory (even though in that circumstance you played well and, probably, you did not deserve the defeat; the second because of our pathetic defeat in the match against Costa Rica that had, as direct consequence, your elimination from the world cup. Now, we’re waiting for the next match next Tuesday Italy vs. Uruguay). It’s enough a draw to go ahead and kick back home Uruguay. Can’t wait!! Bye and…FORZA ITALIA!!!!!

1. Which teams do you think will be in the final?
 Brazil and Argentina. If I had to bet real money on that, maybe I would go for Germany… but so far this world cup has not been the most logical one.
2. Which team do you think will win?
 Brazil, I hope!
3. What is your favourite moment of the World Cup so far, in your opinion?
 The second Suárez goal against England. Sorry Luke, but that was beautiful.
4. Who is the star player of this World Cup, in your opinion?
 If Brazil manage to win, probably Neymar.
5. Which country are you from/supporting? How’s their performance so far?
 Brazil: Not as good as it could be, but fair enough. No big mistakes, good defence… the attack has been a bit disappointing so far.
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014? 
We overspend on those huge arenas… we could be hosting a world cup as good as it’s been so far without building new stadiums but just renovating our existing ones. I wonder how Fifa can be so influential over national decisions like that. Most of our mobility infrastructure plans are delayed or will not be made at all.
Apart from that, as long as Football and atmosphere are the more important things, this is probably one of the best world cups ever (so far).

Hi Luke, I’m Vaibhav from India.
1. Which teams do you think will be in the final? 
Germany, Netherlands, Brazil & France.
2. Which team do you think will win?
 I think Netherlands has fair chance to win WC 2014.
3. What is your favourite moment of the World Cup so far, in your opinion? 
I think when Costa Rica qualified for 1/16 Round. Because before the world cup some football experts were saying that Costa Rica didn’t deserve to qualify for the World Cup,
 but they proved that they deserved to be in the World Cup by knocking out Italy & Uruguay.
4. Who is the star player of this World Cup, in your opinion?
 I think Thomas Mullar because he is the first player to score a hat trick in World Cup 2014.
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014?
 It’s great fun to watch the World Cup in my Summer holidays after my university exams.
Thanx Luke for recording this World Cup 2014 Podcast series.
P.S : You are great Luke and you are in my mind.

Hi again Luke, and everybody here!
I just want to share this article about the essence of football. It’s brilliant!
New Yorker Article

Hi Luke! I can’t say for sure who is going to win the World Cup. Because who knew that Spain would crash out after only two games?(personally I thought they would win) It’s getting more and more unpredictable, and I really like it.
I’m from Russia and I’m already happy that our team is participating in the World Cup after a 12-year absence.

Hi Luke,
I don’t have any news regarding your questions since the last episode. I still support Germany and I still think/hope that the Germans will win the tournament.
Firstly, I’m sorry that England’s team is out. I think as you said, although England lost, the English played pretty well, even better than the Uruguayans. In Fact, this is one of the annoying things about football. A lot of time the statistic is “lying”. Like in this game, if you check the statistics of England vs. Uruguay than you found that England had better numbers (More total shots, more shots on target, less fouls and better possession), however, at the end of the day, England lost. But, on the other hand, there’s some magic in football, isn’t there?
Secondly, I would like to ask you Luke (if I may), does the fact that England didn’t pass the group stage make you be less interested in the world cup? Do you support another team? Do you have any favor to France because you currently live in France? (By the way, the French had a great match vs. Switzerland)
Last thing, I would like to answer your last question (Question number 6):
The world cup until now is far beyond my expectation. Most of the matches are very interesting. 
In terms of my personal view: The second half of Germany-Ghana was very exciting. At some points, I thought that the Ghanaians were going to win, but, at the end of the day, Klose manged to score his fifteenth(!) goal in the world cup so far, and tie the game at 2-2. In addition, I think that this particular match was a good example of the difficulties that European teams have in a warm climate, since the Germans looked 50% of what they are actually capable of, in my opinion.
 In addition, up to now, in the German’s group, everything is still open, and I’m really concerned that Germany might end up like Spain and England, since, theoretically it still might happen. If Spain didn’t pass the group stage (with due the respect to England ) than no team is safe…
That’s it (I planned to write a short comment, however it turned into to a longer one)
Thank you for reading out our comments
Yaron (from Israel)

…following my previous comment….
It seems that I am always complaining in my comments, but that’s the way it is.)
I would like to tell you about 3 things that really, really annoy me in this World Cup and in football in general.
1. ‘Referees’. 
Unskilled, blindness, law violation, bribery… whatever you will call that.
It seems in some games that guys are able to sell rifles, heroin, human organs on the football pitch!!! )))
 We have to punish them somehow, if they deserve it, of course. Cut their fingers or at least pay them a lower salary. I mean punish the mistakes somehow, because sometimes referees cause fans’ broken hearts.
for example 
(another ‘hand of God’- Thierry Henry, France-Ireland)
2.’Wasting time, Adding time’ .
 Just make a ‘clear time’ like in basketball/handball. If the ball is out – time stopps. It’s easy to do technically, I think, and there’ll be fewer cheaters (fake injuries or something)on the football pitch.
3. ‘Divers’ , ‘Ballet dancers’ 
You probably get what I mean. Special HI to Cristina Ronaldy from me!!!))) 
For obvious simulation (faking, diving) I suggest a direct red card!!! In the future, players will think twice about diving or not.
I remember how Oleg Luzhny (Dinamo Kiev capitan in late 90s and player of Arsenal London in early 2000s, a kind of Ukrainian Chuck Norris) played a second half with broken toe in the champions league, because there weren’t any more substitutions. Nowadays, unfortunately we have fewer and fewer players like him, I mean real men, and football has become more girly, (That guys are kind of role model for young – Edgar Davids, Paolo Maldini, Steven Gerrard, Javier Janetti, Zinedine Zidane) I hope you get it).
P.S. I had luck to see Stewart Pearce on the football pitch LIVE in the season 97/98 in Kiev (Dinamo Kiev-Newcastle United). Actually, a team from Ukraine got first place in a group with Barcelona, Newcastle United and PSV Eindhoven. He was an incredible player.
I wish you the best personally Luke and all of your listeners in the world.
 Thank you for you attention #2 =)))
Oleksander from Ukraine/Denmark.

1. Which teams do you think will be in the final?
Brazil, France and Netherlands
2. Which team do you think will win?
3. What is your favourite moment of the World Cup so far, in your opinion?
Nothing yet
4. Who is the star player of this World Cup, in your opinion?
5. Which country are you from/supporting? How’s their performance so far?
 I’m from Kuwait and I support Algeria of course.
I think most Arabs support Algeria as well.
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014?
I’m not so excited about it. I don’t know why.

Hi luke,
this is Pan from China. I started to listen to your podcast since your swear word episode which was amazing and my favorite episode.
Anyway let’s back to those questions:
Which teams do you think will be in the final?
 I think Germany and Brazil.
Which team do you think will win?
 It is hard to say since both Germany and Brazil are top teams.
What is your favourite moment of the World Cup so far, in your opinion? 
As an Asian I would say Algeria‘s sudden kill of Korea in 2 minutes with 2 goals is the best and the worst since that I would like to see. (You’d like to see Korea go through?)
Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014? 
It is sad but common that China does not go to World cup. We just watch for fun and women watch for handsome players. Men watch for the matches. So far I think the Brazil World cup is good and it is normal every time there is a dark horse and unexpected knockouts.
Thank you Luke for reading my writing! Cheers

In my opinion for sure Brazil will be in the final match, but which
 team they will play against is the mystery.
 I’m really disappointed by the referees this year. Their mistakes have
 changed the results of different games and it’s not fair at all. There are some teams that have performed better than expectations. They have played
 wonderfully. Also African teams are great and they have agile and powerful players.
 One positive point about this championship is the number of goals. Right now I’m waiting for the Italy and Uruguay match that will start in 15 min
utes. It could be a wonderful match.
have fun

Hi Luke,
as so many of the others, I also want to tell you that I’m really, really sorry that England couldn’t at least make it to the quarter finals. I really would have loved to see a match between England and Germany.
I’m from Germany, and nobody likes us much anyway, but when it comes to football, it’s getting even worse, isn’t it. Well, someday you simply learn to live with it.
1. Which teams do you think will be in the final? 
In 1974 I was 10 years old and I still remember the world cup as overwhelmingly exciting. And I’d like to see a final between Germany and the Netherlands again.
2. Which team do you think will win? 
I’m afraid, this time it’s the Netherlands, though I’d like to see the Germans win, of course. In the end I could live with any winner, as long as it’s not the USA. They don’t even know the right name of the game we are playing here.
3. What is your favourite moment of the World Cup so far, in your opinion? 
I always like it when Cristiano Ronaldo cries. But my real favourite moment, if you can call that a moment, was the second half of the match between Ghana and Germany. It was the first time in years that I saw the Germans play so passionately.
4. Who is the star player of this World Cup, in your opinion? 
The Mexican goal keeper Guillermo Ochoa.
5. Which country are you from/supporting? How’s their performance so far?
 I obviously support Germany, but I like England, Japan and the Netherlands as well. And this year I’m quite impressed by Costa Rica’s performance.
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014?
To be honest, it doesn’t get me as much as it did in the previous years, so far. Maybe it’s because I’m not able to watch as many matches as I like, maybe it’s because this time the groups are strange, somehow. I don’t know.

Sabine (again)
Hi luke,
it’s me again (of course). Yesterday i wasn’t able to finish my post for some reason. I wanted to write some kind of uplifting last sentence but I couldn’t edit my post anymore. When it comes to terms used on the internet, by the way, I’m always afraid of falling for false friends. “Post”, for instance. Do I use it correctly or is it “posting” or is one of those just some stupid German word that tries to sound technical?
However, in the meantime I found out that it seems that I was totally wrong about everybody out there hating us when it comes to football. I listened to episode 189 of your podcast on the train this morning and I was really surprised to hear how many supporters we seem to have all over the world.
I’m wearing flag socks today. And I’m kind of optimistic about the match, but there still is a chance that everything goes wrong and our boys will shamefully sit on a plane home after tonight’s dinner.
I really hope you are not completely fed up with the world cup now. Thank you very much for explaining the world of football to all of us. I simply love the way you manage to put the light aspects and the serious aspects of a topic together in one sentence, so we all can see that each thing in life has got more than one side.
Chin up!
ps: for three or four days now i’m singing “three lions” to myself all the time (one of the older versions, I think it’s the second one I know the lyrics of) …

I would say GOOOOOAAAAALLLL !!!!!!
Hop Swiss !!

*At this point, Luis Suarez bit an Italian player during the Uruguay vs Italy game, which Uruguay won. This is a big controversy as it is more than just an illegal foul, but an assault beyond the normal physical roughness of a game. The British press covered the story a lot, calling for Suarez to be punished. Some papers in Uruguay said it was a conspiracy by the English press, and that Suarez is not guilty. Suarez has since admitted that he did it. This is the third time he’s done this and Suarez now faces a four month ban from professional football, which is going to cause him all kinds of problems, and his club Liverpool must now be thinking of selling him.*

…although I have been supporting Liverpool FC since 1996, I have to admit that Luis Suarez needs professional psychiatric help…
Three times in three different competitions… first it was in Ajax, then in Liverpool, now in the national team. It’s becoming a habit…
Something’s definitely wrong in his head… :-?

Wow! The Suarez bite saga
. I heard some arguments in his favor, for instance, arguments like that his bites are not worse than a hard intention tackle. I totally disagree with those arguments. Tackles are part of the game, while bites are so not related to football. So even if a hard tackle might be more dangerous, in my opinion, it is still in the gray area, while bites are totally forbidden! There is no excuse for such behavior.
 Yaron (from Israel)

Hi everyone, thanks for your comments. This thread is now closed because I think I have enough comments for an episode.
You can expect the next World Cup podcast this week some time.
I’m now going to open “World Cup Comments Thread #3″, so you can leave any other comments you have there.

190. World Cup 2014 (Part 4: Dad’s Memories of 1966)

In this episode I was planning to give you my ‘brief History of the World Cup’ but I abandoned that idea because I decided it was too boring! Instead I’ve decided to just play you a recorded conversation I had with my Dad about his experience at the 1966 World Cup in London. He saw the semi-final between England and Portugal, and lived in London during the swinging 60s. I asked him to tell me what it was like. I hope you find it interesting. Right-click here to download the episode.

You can still read the script to my history of the World Cup as it is written below.

Don’t forget to add your comments to the World Cup thread in my forum. Just click in the Discussion Forums link in the menu above.

Bye for now ;)


    Original ‘script’ below

Luke’s Brief History of the World Cup
We continue with part 4 of this series of World Cup podcasts by looking at a brief history of The World Cup. You may be fed up with the World Cup at this stage, and I completely understand. Some of you simply might not be into football, and you can’t escape from it at the moment, and you might be thinking – not you too Luke! You’ve been bitten by the World Cup zombies! Well, for those of you who feel that way, don’t worry, this is just a phase and it will pass very soon, I promise! Who knows, perhaps I can actually get you into football, just for a while. In any case, normal podcasting will resume soon, but for now I’m sticking to the World Cup.

World Cup Fever is still gripping Luke’s English Podcast, even though England are out after losing our first 2 games. It hurts, but never mind. I’m getting over it, and anyway there are plenty of nations who didn’t even get to the finals so I’m not going to complain about it too much. So, as I said, this episode is all about the highlights of World Cup history. You can read a transcript for pretty much everything that I am saying on my website. Just find the page for episode 190.

When I was 14 my Dad bought me a Panini sticker album for World Cup 90. I got all the stickers and all the additional pages. I read all of it again and again during the tournament and I loved reading about the history of international football. It was much more engaging than my history lessons at school, and it gave me a taste of life and culture in other countries. Now, as World Cup history is being made again every day, let’s look back at some of the highlights of the World Cup over the last 84 years. This is my World Cup history. It’s written using a combination of extracts from Wikipedia, my knowledge and memory (I attended The World Cup in Japan in 2002), and some contributions from my Dad, Rick Thompson, who I sometimes call Rickipedia (he attended the World Cup in England in 1966).

A Brief World Cup History (Written by Luke from Luke’s English Podcast, with help from Rickipedia and Wikipedia)

The first World Cup took place in 1930 and was hosted by Uruguay. The first goal in World Cup history was scored by Lucien Laurent of France against Mexico. Four days later, the first World Cup hat-trick was achieved by Bert Patenaude of the USA in the Americans’ 3–0 win against Paraguay. Are you surprised that the USA took part in the original compeition? In the final, Uruguay defeated Argentina 4–2 in front of a crowd of 93,000 people in Montevideo, and became the first nation to win a World Cup.

The 1934 World Cup was hosted by Italy, which caused some political disagreement. Uruguay, the titleholders from 1930 boycotted the 1934 World Cup because they were upset that so many European teams hadn’t attended their original world cup in 1930. Italy won the tournament, beating Czechoslovakia to become the first European team to win the tournament.

The 1938 World Cup competition was also held in Europe, much to the consternation of many South Americans, with Uruguay and Argentina both boycotting. France hosted, but for the first time the hosts did not win the competition, as Italy retained their title, beating Hungary in the final by four goals to two.

Up until about 1950 the World Cup was beset by political disagreements and boycotts. During the 40s The World Cup was overshadowed by a larger, much more serious and massively more aggressive contest. Yes, that’s right, World War 2 kicked off in 1939, which kind of interrupted things slightly. It’s hard to organise an international football tournament when the nations of the world are busy using all their time, money and resources on blowing each other up. So, the 1942 and 1946 games were cancelled.

Competition resumed with the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, which was the first to include British participants. Yey! However, in characteristic fashion the English failed to qualify for the final group round in a campaign that included a 1–0 loss to the United States. Very humiliating! Eastern European countries (such as Hungary, the Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia) did not enter the tournament. Title-holder Italy did take part, despite the Superga air disaster of 1949 in which the entire Grande Torino team (many who were national team players) were killed. Uruguay were surprise victors over hosts Brazil (in a match which would later be known as Maracanazo) and became champions for the second time. Well done Uruguay. Perhaps you can do it again this year, although you shouldn’t get too pleased with yourself after beating England. Everyone seems to be able to do that nowadays (and one of those goals shouldn’t have been allowed because Suarez was offside, but never mind that now!)

The 1954 World Cup, held in Switzerland, was the first to be televised. The Soviet Union did not participate because of their dismal performance at the 1952 Summer Olympics. It’s not clear why they didn’t join in. Were they just embarrassed? Scotland made their first appearance in the tournament, but were unable to register a win, going out after the group stage. West Germany were the tournament winners, defeating Olympic champions Hungary 3–2 in the final, coming back from being 2-0 down to Hungary. The match is known as the Miracle of Bern in Germany.

Brazil won the 1958 World Cup, held in Sweden, and became the first team to win a World Cup outside their home continent. Only 3 teams have done this to date – Brazil in 1958 (Sweden), 1970 (Mexico), 1994 (USA) and 2002 (JPN/Korea), Argentina in 1986 (Mexico), and Spain in 2010 (South Africa). The Soviet Union participated this time, most likely due to their win at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. For the first (and so far only) time, all four British teams qualified for the second round. The tournament also saw the emergence of Pelé, who scored two goals in the final. French striker Just Fontaine became the top scorer of the tournament with a still standing record of 13 goals.

Chile hosted the 1962 World Cup. Before play began, an earthquake struck, the largest ever recorded at 9.5 magnitude, prompting officials to rebuild stadiums due to major damage to infrastructure. When the competition began, two of the best players were in poor form as Pelé was injured in Brazil’s second group match vs Czechoslovakia, and USSR saw their goalkeeper Lev Yashin show poor form including a 2–1 loss to hosts Chile as that team, inspired by team spirit captured third place. The competition was also marred by overly defensive and often violent tactics. This poisonous atmosphere culminated in what was known as the Battle of Santiago first round match between Italy and Chile in which Chile won 2–0. Prior to the match, two Italian journalists had written critical articles about the host country. In the match, players on both sides made deliberate attempts to harm (injure) opponents though only two players from Italy were sent off. In the end, the Italian team needed police protection to leave the field in safety. When the final whistle blew, Brazil beat Czechoslovakia for the second World Cup in a row by a final score of 3–1 led by Garrincha and Amarildo, in Pelé’s absence, and retained the Jules Rimet trophy. In this tournament, Colombia’s Marcos Coll made World Cup history when he scored a goal direct from a corner kick (called an Olympic Goal in Latin America) the only one ever made in a World Cup. Not only that, it was also against the legendary goal keeper Lev Yashin, from the Soviet Union.

The 1966 World Cup, hosted by England (UK), was the first to embrace marketing, featuring a mascot and official logo for the first time. The trophy was stolen in the run-up to the tournament but was found a week later by a dog named “Pickles”. North Korea, became the first Asian team to reach the quarter-finals, eliminating Italy in the process. England won the tournament, and Geoff Hurst became the first and to this day the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final. Eusébio, whose team Portugal were taking part in their first World Cup, was the tournament top-scorer, with 9 goals to his name. *Controversial goal. *Did the ball cross the line (no) *Joy for England in a pretty special year/decade for the country. *Interview with Rick Thompson.

In 1970, The finals were held in Mexico. The group stage clash between defending champions England and Brazil lived up to its billing, and is still remembered for England goalkeeper Gordon Banks’ save from a Pelé header on the six-yard line, arguably the best save ever. Gordon Banks is considered the 2nd best goalkeeper in the world, after Lev Yashin of Soviet Union and before Dino Zoff of Italy. What happened was, England were playing Brazil, with their legendary 1970 team including Pele. Jairzinho crossed the ball from just inside the penalty box, the ball sailed over to the far post where Pele leapt high into the air, beating his defender to head the ball down towards what looked like an open goal. Gordon Banks had been covering the near post and the ball had gone over his head. Pele headed the ball hard and fast downwards towards the open space near the far post. It looked like a definite goal, but somehow Gordon Banks managed to leap over and turn the ball around the post. What made it particularly impressive was that the ball had bounced and was moving upwards from the ground and into the goal. Banks was diving and falling and the ball was bouncing upwards. When he stopped it, the ball was at about chest height. It was a perfectly timed and very athletic save, and is considered by many to be the best save ever.

The tournament is also remembered for the semi-final match between Italy and West Germany, in which 5 goals were scored in extra time, and Franz Beckenbauer played with a broken arm, since Germany had used up all their allowed substitutions. Italy were the eventual 4–3 winners, but were defeated 1–4 in the final by Brazil, who became the first nation to win three World Cups, and were awarded the Jules Rimet trophy permanently for their achievement. This was a legendary Brazilian squad, including players like Pele, captain Carlos Alberto Torres, Jairzinho, Tostão, Gérson and Rivelino. For me this was when the World Cup entered a new era, with superstar players, in colour, with television in many people’s homes.

A new trophy was created for the 1974 World Cup, held in West Germany. Some people make jokes about its appearance. I’ll let you imagine what those jokes are.
The West German hosts won the competition by beating the Netherlands 2–1 in the final, but it was also the revolutionary Total Football system of the Dutch that captured the footballing world’s imagination. Johan Cruyff was one of the stars of this competition, showing off close ball control and dribbling skills, including the legendary “Cruyff Turn”. This is a kind of ‘dummy’ which he used to great effect on the wing. He’d make it look like he was going to kick the ball but then at the last moment he’d use his foot to drag the ball between his legs, then turn and beat his defender before running towards the goal line and crossing at close range. In football, it’s important to “get round the back” which means get around the defensive line by dribbling or passing the ball around the side, and then passing it into the penalty area from a ‘deep’ position. The Cruyff turn was quite a revolution in terms of close ball control. Nowadays it’s really common to use a variety of tricks in order to beat defenders and get through a team’s defensive line. The very well-playing Poland finished third, after defeating Brazil 1–0 (and after defeating Argentina 3–2 and eliminating Italy 2–1 in the initial group play). They ultimately lost 0-1 in terrible rain in the semifinals to West Germany.

The 1978 World Cup was held in Argentina, causing controversy as a military coup had taken place in the country two years earlier. Tunisia won their first match against Mexico 3–1 and became the first African team to ever win a world cup game. There was some on-field controversy as well. During the second round Argentina had an advantage in their match against Peru since the kick off was several hours after Brazil’s match with Poland. Brazil won their match 3–1, so Argentina knew that they had to beat Peru by four goals to advance to the final. Trailing 2–0 at half-time, Peru simply collapsed in the second half, and Argentina eventually won 6–0. Rumors suggested that Peru might have been bribed into allowing Argentina to win the match by such a large margin. Argentina went on to win the final 3–1, Mario Kempes scoring twice, with the Dutch being runners-up for the second time running. Obviously it was a great result for Argentina. The Netherlands still haven’t won the World Cup, despite being one of the great footballing nations of our time.

I was a one-year old baby during this competition, and I wasn’t really developed enough to appreciate either the complexities of dutch footballing strategy or the finer aspects of the socio-political context of World Cup 78. I was more interested in throwing food on the floor and falling asleep. I still am quite interested in those things to be honest, but never mind that now.

Spain hosted an expanded 1982 World Cup which featured 24 teams. The group match between Kuwait and France was stage of a farcical incident. As the French were leading 3–1, the Kuwaiti team stopped playing after hearing a whistle from the stands which they thought had come from the referee, and French defender Maxime Bossis scored while the Kuwaiti team were not playing. As the Kuwaiti team were protesting the goal, Sheikh Fahid Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, president of the Kuwaiti Football Association, rushed onto the pitch and gave the referee a piece of his mind, who proceeded to disallow the goal. Despite this diplomatic intervention by the Kuwaiti football president, France scored another valid goal a few minutes later and France ultimately won the game 4–1. Also during the group stages Hungary beat El Salvador 10–1, which has been the only occasion to this day that a team has scored 10 goals in a World Cup match. The final was won by Italy (against West Germany), making Italian captain Dino Zoff the oldest player to win the World Cup at 40 years old. You might be thinking, well if Italy win this, will Andrea Pirlo beat that record. Well, no he won’t, because he just looks older than 40. He is in fact, just 35. Italian striker Paolo Rossi, who was making his comeback after a match-fixing scandal and the ensuing ban, was the tournament top-scorer with six goals including a classic hat-trick against Brazil.

Mexico hosted it again. José Batista of Uruguay set a World Cup record after being sent off after just 56 seconds into the game against Scotland. The quarter final match between England and Argentina is remembered for two remarkable Diego Maradona goals, later regarded as player of the tournament. The first was the controversial handball goal, and the second was considered to be the Goal of the Century, in which he dribbled half the length of the field past five English players before casually tapping the ball into the back of the net. It was incredibly cheeky and skilful, as if to say, “I may have scored the previous goal with my hand, but you can’t deny that that one was the probably the best goal you’ve ever seen”. In the final, Argentina beat West Germany 3–2, inspired by Diego Maradona, who was their captain. I watched the quarter final on TV with my family. I was 9 years old.

The 1990 World Cup was held in Italy. Cameroon participating in their second World Cup, made it to the quarter finals after beating Argentina in the opening game. Roger Milla was quite a big personality in the Cameroon team, and they developed a funny dance which they did every time they scored (which was quite a lot). They ran to the corner flag and did a kind of sexy dance. That’s the first time I remember seeing celebrational dancing after scoring a goal. No African country had ever reached the quarter finals before. An unpleasant episode marred the South American qualifying games: during the match between Brazil and Chile, a firework landed close to the Chilean goalkeeper Rojas, who then pretended to be injured. In fact he had cut his own face with a razor blade which he had hidden in his glove. The plan was to have the game cancelled, or to have Brazil eliminated from the tournament as the flare had come from the Brazilian stands. His team refused to continue the match (as they were down a goal at the time). The plot was discovered and resulted in a 12-year suspension for Rojas and Chile were banned from the World Cup in 1994. The final featured the same teams as in 1986. After finishing runners-up in the two previous tournaments, West Germany beat Argentina 1–0 in the final to record their third title. It was a pretty special result for the Germans, with the context of the fall of the Berlin wall a year before. The Republic of Ireland also made their first appearance in the tournament, reaching the quarter-finals without winning a single game (4 draws, with a penalty shoot-out win over Romania in the second round). This is the furthest a team has ever advanced in the World Cup without winning a game. The luck of the Irish?
During this World Cup I was 13/14 years old and obsessed by football. I watched the tournament on TV and I had the fully completed Panini sticker album which my Dad bought for me. I loved that England team, and we nearly got to the final! We got knocked out by Germany in a nail-biting semi-final which we ultimately lost on penalties (the first of our terrible run of penalty-based defeats). I remember the excitement of when Linaker scored our goal against the Germans. The whole family jumped out of our seats screaming. The cat was terrified and ran out of the room. That’s the closest we’ve got to the World Cup final for a long time.

The 1994 World Cup, held in the USA, saw the first World Cup final to be decided on penalties, with Brazil edging out Italy and Roberto Baggio famously failing to score his penalty. Unfortunately Yugoslavia was excluded due to UN sanctions in connection with the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Russia (taking the place of USSR which had disintegrated over 1990 and 1991) played their first World Cup competition as a new country, with Greece, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia as the other first-timers. Along with disgrace – Diego Maradona being banned mid-tournament after testing positive for recreational drugs (cocaine). It’s not clear if he was actually on cocaine during the games, but he certainly looked like he was off his head! Without him, Argentina were eliminated in the last 16 by Romania — the tournament also saw tragedy when Colombian defender Andrés Escobar was murdered 10 days after his own-goal against the hosts in their first round match that eliminated Colombia. Apparently, gangsters had threatened the players before the game. So, not only did Escobar have the shame of scoring an own goal, but he may also have known at that point that he would pay the ultimate price for it. Oleg Salenko of Russia became the first player to score five goals in a single World Cup game in his country’s 6–1 win over Cameroon. In the same match, 42-year old Roger Milla scored the only goal for Cameroon, becoming the oldest player ever to score in a World Cup match. England didn’t qualify for this competition, but I watched a lot of the games anyway, although I was less interested in football than I had been 4 years earlier . My interests were more focused on music and girls and that sort of thing. I was 17 and one of my friends had a free house during the final week of the tournament. We all hung out there in a big gang and watched a lot of games together. Fun times.

The 1998 World Cup was held in France. Iran beat the Maldives in qualification by the widest margin in World Cup history: 17–0. Hosts France won the tournament by beating Brazil 3–0 in the final. What a great moment for the French! There was a lot of hype around the Brazilian squad going into the competition, especially around the star player Ronaldo. As the scorer of four goals in the tournament, Ronaldo appeared to be less than a hundred percent in the match, and was unable to make any impact. Some say that he shouldn’t have started the game as he wasn’t fit or healthy enough. I’ve heard suggestions that as team sponsors, Nike put pressure on the team to play Ronaldo, as he was so important for their brand image. Certainly there was a sense that the World Cup had become way too commercialised and more about money making than the true values of the World Cup. Debutants Croatia finished a commendable third. I watched many of the key games at home, on my own :( This is when I was on summer holiday from university, living at my parents house, in the middle of nowhere. We lived in the countryside and I didn’t have a car, so I had to try and persuade my mates to come and collect me so I could watch games with them. A lot of the time I was just stranded on my own, shouting at the TV. I was 21. England were knocked out by Argentina in the 2nd round. Yes, on penalties.

The 2002 World Cup was the first to be held in Asia, and was hosted jointly by South Korea and Japan. Australia defeated American Samoa 31–0 in a preliminary match – a new record for the margin of victory, and the highest-scoring match ever in World Cup history. 31-0??? Australia should have saved some of those goals. The could have used them last week. The tournament was a successful one for teams traditionally regarded as minnows (small fish), with South Korea, Senegal and USA all reaching the last eight. Brazil beat Germany 2–0 in the final for their fifth title. I was in Japan during this competition. I was 25 years old. England were knocked out by Brazil in the 2nd round, not on penalties, but it still hurt. I watched one of the games in Saitama stadium. It was England vs Norway. Most of the crowd were England fans. Japanese England fans. The Japanese loved England, but I think that was mainly because of David Beckham.

The 2006 World Cup was held in Germany. Brazil and England were initially the English bookmakers’ favourites. A strong performance by Germany brought them as far as the semifinals. However, the final match-up was between Italy and France, in which French captain Zinedine Zidane was sent off in the last 10 minutes of extra time for a headbutt to the chest of Italian central defender Marco Materazzi. Apparently Materazzi was whispering some insults into Zidane’s ear, and Zidane just lost it. The headbutt was pretty shocking, but it was also one of the most impressive moments in the game! POW! A headbutt direct to the chest and Materazzi hit the deck! Really, it’s a pity that this happened, because Zidane is one of the best players we’ve had in the world, and this really tainted his image. He’s be celebrated more if it wasn’t for that. Italy went on to win 5–3 in a penalty shootout, the score having been 1–1 after 90 minutes and extra time. I watched this game in my flat in London, joined at half time by a Polish friend called Marek who brought beer, and who might be listening to this. Hello Marek. I was 29 years old.

The 2010 World Cup was held in South Africa. It was the first cup hosted in African, and the cup was won by Spain. The tournament was noted for its highly defensive opening matches, controversies surrounding goal-line technology, and the introduction of vuvuzelas, which some people believe destroyed the atmosphere at many of the games. The noise was pretty annoying. [Play vuvuzela sound] It sounds like a swarm of angry bees or something. The main problem was that it was just a constant droning sound. There was no difference between a goal and normal play. Just a constant AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA sound. Though considered as one of the tournament favourites, the Spaniards won the cup despite scoring only 8 goals in 7 games and losing their opening match to Switzerland. In a final which saw a record number of yellow cards distributed and what some considered violent play from the Dutch side, the 10-man Netherlands squad were defeated 1–0 in the 116th minute of extra time by an Andrés Iniesta goal. Maybe the Dutch defeat of Spain last week was a bit of revenge. I watched a lot of this in London with my girlfriend. I was 33. England were pretty rubbish. We seemed to have no team spirit at all. The players didn’t gel, and Rooney was a disappointment. We got smashed by an amazing German team 5-1. Frank Lampard had a goal disallowed by the referee, although it did cross the line. Perhaps this was justice for the non-goal which was allowed back in the 1966 final when England beat West Germany. England were knocked out of the tournament. But I’m still with my girlfriend!

That brings us up to the current world cup, which is of course being held in Brazil. The next one is due to be held in Russia in 2018, and then in Qatar in 2022. Hopefully, I will still be recording Luke’s English Podcast, and I will still be with my girlfriend, who at that point will have become my wife!

So that’s the end of my World Cup History. As usual, leave me your comments. I’ve opened another comments thread in the discussion forum. Write comments there and I will read them out on the podcast when I get the chance.

Bye for now,

189. World Cup 2014 (Part 3: Your Comments)

In this episode I’m going to read out comments you’ve added so far on my forum. Click here to visit the forum. The thread is now closed, but I’ll add a new one called “World Cup Comments Thread #2” where you can add other comments. Next week I’ll aim to record another episode with your comments. Right-click here to download this episode.

Small Donate Button
I’ve corrected or ‘upgraded’ comments I’m reading out. You can read the corrected versions below.

Let’s get started.

Hi everyone, I’m really enjoying The World Cup, I’m going to record an episode (or 2) about it very soon, and I need your help!

The World Cup is a truly global event so it will be great to hear the comments of people from around the world on this subject. So, please write your thoughts and comments on this year’s World Cup in this forum thread. I will read out your comments on the podcast. I think it would make a great episode of LEP!

So, please answer one (or more) of the questions below. I will read out your comments in an episode which I plan to record on Thursday afternoon (19 June).

Questions (Answer one or more)
1. Which teams do you think will reach the final, and why?
2. Which team do you think will win this year, and why?
3. Which team are you supporting this year, and why?
4. What are your team’s chances of success this year?
5. Who is the star of World Cup 2014 in your opinion?
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014 so far?
In all comments, please tell me which country you come from. ;)

Any comments written here by Thursday afternoon (my time) will be read out on the podcast (probably*). So, get writing!

p.s. I will correct errors (not publicly) in the comments before I read them out ;)


*I do reserve the right not to read out comments for any reason.

Hi Luke!!
Do you think the ball crossed the line in the World Cup final you (England) won in 1966??
Cheers…and good luck for England! You will need it!
I forgot to say I am from Spain!
…but I support Argentina. I think the best player ever (Messi) deserves the championship!
Luke: How can you support Argentina if you’re from Spain!?
mmm It’s hard to explain…I love football and I am a loyal supporter of Osasuna in the Spanish league (this year relegated!) so I don’t have a strong feeling with the national teams although I enjoy so much watching all these matches…Also in my region (Pamplona is my hometown) there is not a big national feeling… Am I making it clearer? Or even worse? haha

4. What are your team’s chances of success this year?
Germany I guess. But to be honest I’m not really into football or soccer or whatever the name is. I much prefer Le Tour de France, which is a French bicycle race for those of you who don’t know. Anyway thank you very much indeed for taking the time to read out this brief comment. Best of luck for the World Cup! Roman from France.

Hi Luke! I hope England win but I don’t think they will. If they don’t, I would like Spain or any South American country to win. PS. What do you think about the banner Argentina posed with before their friendly match with Slovenia?

Bruno Correa
São Paulo, Brazil.
Hello, Luke!
I think Brazil and England will absolutely reach the final.
I’m sorry, Luke but I’ve got to say Brazil will win it!
Well, actually I don’t care that much about that. I’m more worried about more important issues here in Brazil.
The World Cup is a really good event, you know, people in this country are sort of obsessed with football. I know it’s a great party and we all love that.
I’m not so sure though that is what my country really needs, at least not now.
Too much money (at least 30 billion dollars) has been spent on this.
We undoubtebly do not need more stadiums, but we do need better education, security and welfare.
Thank you.

Stan Chatov
I think that the finalists will be the Netherlands or Germany.

Hi luke, I am Diego from Argentina.
Though I think Germany is the toughest team to beat, I believe we are going to make it to the final.
On the other side of the draw is Brazil, five times champion, with a great history and present. Brazil and Argentina are going to see their faces at the Maracana in the last battle of this World cup.
If Uruguay made it in the 50s why can’t Argentina with Messi dream of it too?

Nadia Dosova
Hi everybody, I work as a support teacher in a primary school in London and we did a sweepstake with the kids the other day for the World Cup, so everyone drew a country to support. I got Australia so if they win I might get a prize:-))) (of course I won’t, it’s just for fun). Generally I think Spain or Brazil have the chance:-)

Hi Luke
I’m really into football so the World Cup is a great thing for me. In my opinion, the world cup is already a huge success because there have not been as many riots as expected and people over there seem to be happy about it.
I’m a big Bayern Munich supporter so it’s quite logical that I have a soft spot for Germany. I think they will win in the end against Brasil because they have the star of the World Cup, Thomas Müller, in their team. Unfortunately Switzerland won’t succeed. They might reach the quarter-finals but that’s all.
Regards from Switzerland
Yannick Wohlhauser

Hey Luke,
I hope you are ok, this podcast is a great idea.
Let me answer your questions:
1. Which teams do you think will reach the final, and why?
Argentina. I think Brazil won’t make it because they won’t handle the pressure of being the host country and Argentina will take advantage. Messi can be the worst player on the pitch like in the first game but he is still capable of miracles. My dark horse is Belgium but I think they will be beaten in the semis. Germany seems to be strong too, but they will also lose in the semi-final.
2. Which team do you think will win this year, and why?
Holand will win it. As much as I hate Roben for being an arrogant player and a diver, and Van Persie as a traitor who left Arsenal for Man U because of money, I have to admit that they seem to have a very strong team and the way they hammered Spain was just impressive.
3. Which team are you supporting this year, and why?
It is an easy call for me. England because it’s this country and its language that I fell for. And of course because of Luke. And naturally Jack Wilshere who plays for the Gunners. And also Frank Lampard for whom I have lot of respect. (I can’t support the US because they call it soccer which is shameful and despite beating Ghana, they still have kind of no clue how to play this game)
4. What are your team’s chances of success this year?
Zero. They are not there. I wish we were but we messed it up in the qualificaion group stages. I am enjoying waching this tournament big time but if the Czech Republic team were actually in it, I would obviously enjoy it a hundred times more. That’s just the nature of supporting I guess. A bitter pill to swallow but it’s just the way it is I am afraid.
5. Who is the star of World Cup 2014 in your opinion?
I hope it is gonna be someone from the England team. Now it is too early to predict. But I would like to see some new faces, too. Perhaps some players from Africa like Bony Wilfried from Ivory Coast for example. I hope Ballotelli, Neymar or Robben won’t win the golden boot because I don’t like them.
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014 so far?
The goal-line technology is awesome. Neverthless I miss Luke’s English podcast banners in the stands. So far some matches have been boring, some good but generally the atmosphere has been electric and buzzing. I can’t wait when it comes down to the wire and hopefully when push comes to shove, I am gonna get some goosebumps, too.
Come on England!

Hello Luke,
Firstly, you have the greatest podcast I have ever heard.
Since I started listening to your podcast, my english has improved a lot.
Many many many thanks from me :)
So now let’s get down to business, my answers to your questions are:
1. Which teams do you think will reach the final, and why?
In my opinion, it will be Brazil and Germany. The former becuase it is the host team which has the “home” advantage, and the latter because it is the best team in the world
2. Which team do you think will win this year, and why?
Germany. Maybe it’s wishful thinking…
But, if I am serious, I think so mainly because the Germans plays as a team and not based on a few stars.
3. Which team are you supporting this year, and why?
Isn’t it obvious? Germany of course
The reason? Well, At one time, you said that people usually support teams based on their roots… well, I have Germans roots. Add to it the fact that I cannot support my home country (Israel). The last time Israel reached the world cup was before I was born (in 1970).
4. What are your team’s chances of success this year?
Objectively, I think Germany has a good chance to win this year.
5. Who is the star of World Cup 2014 in your opinion?
So far, it is Robben from the Netherlands. The game of Netherlands vs. Spain was amazing.
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014 so far?
I think it is great. Indeed it is a global celebration.
In all comments, please tell me which country you come from.
My name is Yaron and I’m from Israel and it is an great honor for me that you will read out and correct my English!

The Brazilian supporters swearing at the President and FIFA before the first match has been the best thing from the world cup so far.
Luke: Are you referring to this?

Hi from Spain. I would love a final between Brasil and Argentina. A sort of OK Corral duel for Messi and Neymar. And I hope the winner is… the refree. I am a Real Madrid fan and don’t feel too much love for these two guys.
Although I support Spain, I am afraid our boys will come back home soon. They really deserve a golden retirement after six years winning all the competitions. We have been proud of them but we need a change of the guard.
And I would like England to be in the semi finals at least.
One question for you: Americans say “soccer” instead of football. Do you know where the word soccer comes from?

English people invented the most fabulous sport: Football. But, the Brazilians changed that sport into art. Go Brazil, get your sixth trophy! Chupa Argentina! (means “suck it Argentina!”)

Yaron (again)
Following my earlier post, in my opinion, Luke and the whole England nation shouldn’t complain about the English football team. As you can see it could be worse, like in my case that my country hasn’t reached the world cup at all.
Yaron from Israel.

Stefano Pierini
Hi luke. While I’m enjoying the world cup and really hoping Italy will surprise me (still too early to choose the best player but Pirlo is in the top 5) I actually wanna suggest that you comment on the 2022 venue for the world cup ‘Qatar’ which apparently won the bid unfairly.
Greetings from Philly.
Thanks Luke

I’m supporting Brazil of course because i’m brazilian lol
the other question I’d like to answer is ” 6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014 so far?”
I think it is a great event, and good for society in general even though the huge amount of money spent on this event is being questioned mainly by us brazilians, but i think it’s good because it unites a lot of nations, and brings us together in peace for a moment.
hopefully :)

Diogo Kurbrusly DeFreitas
Hello Luke!
Greetings from Rio de Janeiro – As a Brazlian, I’ve been hearing about the 2014 FIFA World Cup and its legacy for years and years.
It goes without saying that Brazil is in the spotlight at the moment. From our worldwide known footballers to our modest airports and worrying protests, everything is being covered. Furthermore, it seems to me that the international press has got some mixed feelings concerning the World Cup here in Brazil.
On the one hand we clearly see a lot of criticism when it comes to how the event was planned, organized and managed. Regarding this matter we shall take the example of the official opening ceremony, which could be described as nothing but a fiasco. It was a source of jokes and ridiculousness – not only here in Brazil but all around the world as well. Harsh were the comments on the BBC and The Guardian websites regarding it. Although the international judgements were severe, I must agree with them entirely.
Despite starting on the wrong foot, I truly believe there’s still some hope for making things right. As the World Cup unfolds itself, I can notice some positivity in the air. There’s a great deal of excitment all around the matches and the competition itself. Believe it or not, is already referring to Brazil’s World Cup as the best one of all time.
Having said all of this, Luke… I’d like to know your views on this World Cup. How are things going so far? How well is Brazil performing its role as the host of such a tremendous event? Last but not least: who is going to win this Cup?
Btw, it’s a poor thing The Three Lions haven’t had a good start in the competition but I’m pretty sure they will overcome it.
PS: Sorry for not keeping my message short. As it is said brevity is a virtue, and it seems that I still need to work on it.

Ji Hyun
Germany and Netherlands will probably meet in the final.
They seem so strong, they got huge scores in their first matches, and I think Germany will win the world cup this year. They always seem stronger in the world cup than any other football games.
But I’m supporting my country Korea, it’s a great honour to attend 8 times in a row, and I hope Korea will go through to the last 16 :)

Dang Le Trung Nguyen
Hi Luke,
For this World Cup I completely support England primarily and Japan secondarily, just because I’m learning English and Japanese. This habit, which was planted inside of me when I was a child, is that as I study some foreign language, I study things from that country where that language is spoken as the first language, like culture, customs, civil tastes and so on. I have been a fan of England for a long time, a 12-year period to be exact. I was disappointed with the first round results of those two teams – they were both defeated by the same 2-1 score. I hope they will both pocket 6 points from the remaining matches and qualify for the 1/16 round. I predict that possibly, England will reach the quarter-finals and then sadly, be kicked out on the penalty spot. England always fail on the spot, it’s an English uncureable infection. Japan will lose the 1/16 round.
In this FIFA World Cup, I’m really satisfied with Goal-Line Technology being brought into use and it’s worked. It has gone through many demanding technical tests and it helped in the match between France and Honduras. More specifically, it helped the referee make a right decision by allowing France’s 2nd goal. You remember Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany 4 years ago, don’t you? If it had been given, the result might have altered. What a pity!
I’m also drawn by the spray used by the referee to restrict the wall when there’s a free-kick. It’s quite strange and in some sense, it looks funny. But I wonder what that substance is when witnessing it disappears rather quickly after. You know what I mean?
This World Cup, there have been plenty of incorrect referee decisions. It’s probably in our mind that one Japanese referee Nishimura’s bad whistle allowed a penalty for Brazil while a Crotia’s man’s touch was clearly not hard enough to bring down Brazil’s Fred. It’s still being criticized. And two Dos Santos goals scored properly were disallowed due to bad referee offside calls. Fortunately, the Mexican men won the game in the end. If not, it would have become more severely controversial. The referee is always an issue in every tournament.
I think Brazil will win the World Cup. The Netherlands will be the runner-up. Germany is likely to stand in 3rd and for the 4th place, I bet on Italy. Most of this prediction is based on my intuition rather than my sense (the factual results we’ll all known after observing each team’s performance). OK, to sum up, it can possibly be:
Champion: Brazil
Runner-up: The Netherlands
3rd place: Germany
4th place: Italy
The top-scorer: Robbin van Persie (the Netherlands)

Tiago Felipe (in response to Dang)
Hi Dang Le Trung Nguyen
That Spray referees use was first used in Brazil and now it’s spreading around the world. It’s a kind of lather. That’s why it disappears very quickly.
We also use this kind of lather in carnival, it’s very fun. But it’s very dangerous if it gets into the eyes.

Hi, I just wanted to share this article to everyone. Maybe some of you already know, but I just was so proud of it as a Japanese person.

3. Which team are you supporting this year, and why?
This year’s World Cup is historical for my country because it is the first time Bosnia and Herzegovina’s team is represented in such an important global sporting event. Just the fact that we qualified and managed to play there among all the best football teams is success and of course it means so much to me. It makes me proud of our boys Pjanić, Misimović, Bešić, Begović, Džeko…
Hearing our National anthem in the famous Maracana for the first time ever was overwhelming. Plus knowing that millions of people around the world were watching our team there in the match against the great Argentina was pretty intense. Can’t imagine the pressure and stress in the field at the very beginning of W.C. ’14, but when Bosnians scored in the second half (Ibišević) felt like some National holiday here – everyone dressed up for the occasion, wearing silly hats, waving our flags, singing and having a great time… So the result 2:1, although they won, was very very good. I mean, it’s Argentina we played against!!!
And I think Gauchos played worse than usual because our Dragons were surprisingly good and showed they were up to the task. Now I’m sort of glad that game is over and behind us – we waited for it so impatiently and it was nerve-racking all day and for the whole 90 minutes. The hardest match I’ve ever watched. And certainly something to tell our kids and grand children about. The next two matches should be easier to play, and to watch too, and I, of course, expect Bosnians to win both games. Just remember the first time your country’s team played in the World Cup and you’ll know what I mean!
My second favorite is England and thank God we’re NOT in the same group. :-) Why England? There are many reasons; personal and professioanal. And they’re a good team as well. I Hope to see them in the finals. Along with Brasil – man, they live football 24/7! I also support Croatia – “Love your neighbor!” – so best of luck, people! You’re great!
Btw, what is that whipped cream thing that referees use? Ha ha… :-)
– Amra
Greetings from Bosnia!

The World Cup – such a great topic ! I’m really looking forward to listening to the podcast about IT :) I’ve always been a big fan of football (although I’m a girl) , so it’s a great time for me :D I’m sitting on my couch, watching a match between Australia and the Netherlands . I must say that this world championship is on a very high level , matches are unpredictable and fascinating ! I’m really disappointed that I can’t support my national team – Poland ( We played against England in the preliminary stage and we lost of course ) . Instead , I cheer on Argentina (although their defence worries me a little bit :/ ) I’d love to see Argentina – Brazil in the final match ! Sorry , but I have to say that England doesn’t have a real striker , so it is going to be hard to achieve something :/ On the question of the best footballer so far , I’d choose Arjen Robben – incredible left leg :) Greetings from Poland!

Hi Luke, I’m Tiago and I come from Brazil.
I’m really excited to take part in this episode.
I’m expecting Brazil vs Argentina in the final game, you know we are not so friendly with each other and that would make a classic match. Both teams are making a good campaign. But of course I think and hope Brazil will win this year, since 2002 we haven’t won a World Cup, the brazilians deserve it, we are hosting the game and the victory will be amazing for all of us. You know that Brazil is known as the country of Football around the globe, but not everyone likes it here. The only problem we are having is about the amount of money that the government spent in order to host the World cup, some people are protesting about it. In part I belive they could have done a better job if they had used that money on Educacion and Health areas.
I have a question, Aren’t you supporting Brazil too?

Hi Luke,
First of all,I appreciate very much what you do,I enjoy your genuine British humour and I’m amazed how it’s possible to do so much nonstop talking. Man, you’re just a genius.
Now, let’s talk about football shall we? No doubt it’s a great game and of course I watch the world cup as much as I can. But here in Estonia our most popular sport by a long shot is basketball. What do you like the most Luke -basketball or football? Ha-ha, stupid question to ask, I know :)
So, the world cup….
1. Which teams do you think will reach the final, and why?
I think the finals will be reached by Brazil and Germany and the world champs will be Germany. They are playing very beautiful and smart football.
2. Which team do you think will win this year, and why?
As I said before-the winner this time will be’ll see.
3. Which team are you supporting this year, and why?
I’m not supporting any team actually but my favourites are the Netherlands and Germany.
4. What are your team’s chances of success this year?
Sorry to say that but my country will never ever reach to world cup because we are so bad at playing football. By the way-Estonia will play against England on 12th of October this year…so watch out :)
5. Who is the star of World Cup 2014 in your opinion?
I think the star of World Cup 2014 will be Robin Van Persie.I don’t like his personality though but the way this guy is playing (plays?) is impressive.
6. Generally, what do you think of World Cup 2014 so far?
It’s been a pretty amazing WC so far I think. We have seen attractive football with many beautiful goals and that’s what football is all about right? I’m really enjoying it.
Sorry about my english grammar,I’m a bit rusty I know.

Diogo Kubrusly de Freitas
Hello again Luke!
At the beginning of the first part on your series about the FIFA World Cup you invited listeners from Brazil to say how they were feeling about hosting the 2014 most famous football tournament on earth. So here I am to add my contribution and to present you a brief introduction to our current social-political scenario.
It’s a tricky business to say how Brazil as a whole is feeling about the World Cup… but I can speak for myself, and to be a 100% honest I’m not a happy bunny.
Everyone knows that millions and millions of dollars were spent so that Brazil could meet FIFA’s standards for this competition and therefore host the World Cup. The funny thing is that Brazil’s government constantly say our revenue is not enough in order to meet the country’s needs. Brazil has no money for neither building up new schools nor fully equipping its hospitals. Nevertheless the country can afford the billionaire costs of gigantic stadiums. What a contradiction!!!
Oh it almost slipped from my mind to tell you about inflation levels in Brazil. If you fancy coming here be ready to be ripped off. Every single day a number of services and goods are geting more and more exorbitant.
Another point to be taken into account is how the local media deals with our problems. As far as I’m concerned certain TV networks and influential personalities from Brazil tend to turn a blind eye to our social issues. To illustrate what I’m saying, I shall quote what a well-known football player said some months ago about the World Cup dilemma: ‘We do not make a World Cup with schools but with stadiums’. The genius behind this masterpiece is Ronaldo – the fat one.
Another guy once said that instead of protesting against corruption, Brazilans should support the national squad. Who said that? Not surprising it was another rich and famous Brazilian footballer: Pelé!
I understand the fact Ronaldo and Pelé are fighting for the World Cup in Brazil but I hold the opinion that such statements are disgraceful and revolting – they offend people’s real needs.
I don’t want to be seen as a misery guts but financially speaking it was not the right moment for having a World Cup here in Brazil. Brazilians do have other urgent priorities. It is concerning to think that much more money will continue to go down the drain even when the 2014 World Cup is past. I say this based on the fact that the next Olympic Games will take place here in Rio de Janeiro.
So, I’d say we’ll have to wait and see what will come to be of Brazil in the next couple of years. Fingers crossed things will take a better path…

Jan Kloucek
Hi Luke,
it’s an amazing idea to make a podcast about the World Cup. I’ve said to myself that I have to listen to your episode about the English Premier League these days again because there is a lot of vocab and expressions connected with football and I really need refresh them all.
I’ve got just one question and I don’t know if it’s about the World Cup enough :) but I’ll try it. Nowadays I’ve been living in southern England (Bournemouth) for a few months which means I’m watching the World Cup in Englad’s typical pubs and I’m struggling a bit with people’s behaviour. :) Before the World Cup started I’d been looking forward to watching matches in England a lot because of the atmosphere etc. but now I’m not able to get used to it. Everybody’s drunk and extremely noisy everywhere is overcrowded, there’s no possibility to make a reservation for a table for example and take a seat. I don’t know if it’s understandable :) I don’t have something against cheering and shouting etc. but there is almost no chance to watch a match because of other people…
I’m used to watching football and all other sports events in a pub in the Czech Republic as well but we’re siting during them, drinking beers, debating… Do you know what I mean?
And my questions are: Is it a normal state in the UK or is there is a chance to find quieter places as well and have I just had a bad luck? And what’s your opinion about this? Do you prefer loud atmospheres to quieter one? Is this a taste of football for you (I mean for the English)? And what about the atmosphere in Paris’s pubs?
Fingers crossed for tonight!

Here’s a taste of the atmosphere in a sports bar in the centre of London. This is how some English fans (not everyone) behaves in a busy pub when there’s an England game on.

188. World Cup 2014 (Part 2: England & The Dark Side of the World Cup)

In this second World Cup episode we focus on England, and then the dark side of The World Cup including the allegations of corruption and the civil unrest in Brazil. Right-click here to download this episode.

1. What does the World Cup mean to me? (Dealt with in part 1)
2. What’s the situation at this time? Who looks strong? What’s going on? The Basic Guide to World Cup 2014. (Dealt with in part 1)
3. Focus on England
4. Changes to the rules
5. The dark side of the World Cup
6. A brief History of The World Cup (In part 3)

3. England: What are their chances?
World Cup history – penalties. The curse of the penalty shootout.
Stuart Pearce Penalty video 1996 (Feel the passion!)

Why haven’t England won the cup even though the premiership is the top league in the world?
– Foreign players
– Clubs come first
– Finding the right coach
– Egos and personalities vs teamwork
– Pressure & Expectation from the media & the public (it’s assumed that England will win, “football’s coming home” and this doesn’t help)
– Finding the right squad
– Penalties (it’s all in the mind)
England: Letting the rest of the world shine since 1966 ;)

4. Changes to the rules, etc
Goal line technology.
The vanishing spray.
Player conduct – diving, cheating & time-wasting.
The Falklands/Malvinas Situation. Click here to read arguments for and against British occupation of The Falkland Islands. Click here to read an article about the Argentinian players’ protest.

5. The other side of the World Cup. The ‘dark side’ of The World Cup.
Controversy, corruption and civil unrest.
Riots in Brazil.
FIFA’s 2022 corruption scandal.
The Falklands issue – Argentina vs England
John Oliver’s report

His main points:
The sausage principle: If you love something, don’t find out how it was made.
He’s excited about the World Cup, but he’s also conflicted about it because of the alleged corruption of FIFA.
Some Brazilians are unhappy about the World Cup because the money spent on hosting the games is not going to the people who need it.
FIFA persuaded the Brazilian government to overturn safety laws in football stadiums. The law used to state that beer could not be sold in stadiums. FIFA refused to negotiate and pushed very hard for this safety law to be overturned. John Oliver believes it’s irresponsible of FIFA to prioritise their sponsors over public safety.
FIFA’s boardroom looks dark and evil.
In Qatar, workers’ rights are so poor that it’s almost like slave labour. Also, health and safety standards are so low that it’s expected that thousands of workers will die during constructions of the stadiums. Downer :(

Stay tuned for part 3 coming soon!

3 Lions ’98 (Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds) “Football’s Coming Home” Lyrics
Three Lions 98 Version

We still believe, we still believe
we still believe

Its coming home,
Its coming home, its coming
Footballs coming home

Tears for heroes dressed in grey
No plans for final day
Stay in bed, drift away
It could have been all
Songs in the street
It was nearly complete
It was nearly so sweet
And now Im singing

Three lions on the shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
No more years of hurt
No more need for dreaming

Talk about football coming home
And then one night in Rome
We were strong, we had grown
And now I see Ince ready for war
Gazza good as before
Shearer ready to score
And Psycho screaming

Three lions on the shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
No more years of hurt
No more need for dreaming

We can dance Nobbys dance
We could dance it in France

Its coming home, its coming home,
Footballs coming home….


Please leave your comments below.

187. World Cup 2014 (Part 1: The Basic Guide)

Lots of people want me to talk about the World Cup, so here we go! This is the first in a series of episodes about World Cup 2014. We start with a general look at the tournament, the groups and the teams. Consider this to be your basic guide to World Cup 2014. Right-click here to download this episode.

I have been preparing podcasts on other things lately but that must stop because nothing else can happen at this moment – why? Because it’s the World Cup. You may have noticed. I think there is a law going round that 75% of anything must be about the world cup. That’s conversations, television, radio, newspaper articles, commercials, food, pets, weather, geography, elephants, whatever. It has to be connected to the World Cup in some way. It’s just an unwritten global law. If I talk about anything else on the podcast at this time, there’s a danger it will go in one ear and out of the other, there is only The World Cup! So, it has to be dealt with. So LET’S DO THIS. Let’s talk about THE WORLD CUP!

Don’t think that I’m reluctant to talk about it. I’m not. I love football. I really love the World Cup – well, most of it. There are some things that I don’t like about it, and we’ll come to that stuff later. I’m not reluctant to talk about it by any means, it’s just that it’s a pretty massive topic and I’ve been wondering how to cover it properly. I’ve decided that I’ll just ramble on about it and do my best to make it accurate and well-informed. Please be aware that I’m an English-teacher-podcaster-comedian-musician but not necessarily an expert on the world of international football, but I will do my best to talk about football with the level of knowledge and expertise that you might expect from most ordinary people in the UK. I have a normal level of knowledge of this subject. So, it’s a bit like talking to a guy in a pub about it, or chatting to a guy who you know at work or school, just like the sort of conversation you’re likely to have in the real world. It’s pretty rare that you get to talk to a football journalist isn’t it? Yes it is, unless you’re married to one or something.

Other World Cup podcasts you could listen to:
The Guardian Football Weekly Podcast (Very in-depth and well-made, but not produced with learners of English in mind.) Lots of stuff about learning English via football here, including some podcasts. Have a look.
British Council Premier Skills English. Loads of resources to learn English associated with football.
Luke’s English Podcast – English Premier League Football.
Future episodes of LEP. I expect I’ll be talking more about the World Cup in the next couple of weeks, and this episode might be separated into several parts. Also, I’ll make a podcast with your comments too.

If you’re not a football fan, well, in this episode you’ll have to just enjoy the words that are coming out of my mouth, without getting too carried away by the general subject matter. I will be looking at both sides in this podcast, and there will be some general criticism of football and the World Cup later on in this episode (or in part 2 if it’s necessary to divide it into two).

It’s one week into the competition. I’m going to talk about how it’s going so far. It’s hard to make any big statements at this moment, because it could all change. By the time you listen to it, everything could be different. I realise that. Anyway, let’s talk football.

Here’s what I’m going to deal with in this episode. I’m planning another one very soon in which I will respond to comments which some of you have left in my forum. You can read that forum thread by clicking here: Luke’s World Cup Comments Forum Thread.

1. What does the World Cup mean to me?
2. What’s the situation at this time? Who looks strong? What’s going on? The Basic Guide to World Cup 2014.
3. Focus on England
4. Changes to the rules
5. The dark side of the World Cup
6. A brief History of The World Cup

1. What does the World Cup mean to me?
It’s an international celebration. It’s great fun to get caught up in the excitement. It brings people together. It’s a time when we forget our differences and let problems get settled on the football pitch. It’s also nice to see all the hot girls from around the world on TV sometimes. On the more serious side, the World Cup is becoming more and more controversial, basically because of FIFA and the allegations of corruption, and the civil unrest in Brazil around their hosting of the competition. More on that later. Right now, let’s focus on the football, and leave the politics until later.
My world cup story.
Meeting Rai de Oliveira. (Name dropping)

2. Who looks like they could win at this stage?
Let’s look at the groups. To help me here, I am quoting from a very useful article on called “How to Fake Your Way Through the Tournament Like a Champ”, which is a kind of dummy’s guide to The World Cup 2014. If you don’t know a lot about the World Cup, this might help you. Since the article was written, some things have changed, and are still changing now as games are being played every day, but it will give you a good idea of the context at this stage.

Now listen to part 2 of this World Cup episode!