The Worst Accents in Football: Speaking Foreign

  • Global media coverage of football has encouraged more stars within the game to become multilingual.
  • Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger is fluent in 6 different languages including Japanese, Spanish and Italian.
  • For some footballing professionals, the linguistic challenge is a step too far.


Trying to communicate in a foreign country, we’ve all been there. Hopeless in the native tongue, you go through the desperate process to communicate with the smiling (yet bewildered local) staring back at you.

First you try the hand gestures; praying all those charades and mime skills you worked on at Christmas don’t let you down!



No success? They probably couldn’t quite hear exactly what you were saying!

Speak very slowly, and loudly too (this part is crucial), there’s nothing quite as frustrating as trying to comprehend a mumbler…


Should these classic techniques fail you, esteemed members of the footballing community have developed some ingenious new methods of communicating with foreign media and supporters – seamlessly blending into their environment:


Joey Barton: The ‘Franglish’ Technique

Born near Liverpool, Barton is part of a distinguished group of British players who have played professionally overseas. After completing a loan move to Marseille in the summer of 2012, the former QPR man struggled to adapt to the style of French football.

Criticised for his aggressive and physical play, Barton responded to the French media in this bizarre press conference:



For reference, here’s Barton speaking with Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight that same year…



Louis Van Gaal: The Slur Technique

Self-professed tactical genius, Van Gaal has become a dividing figure for Manchester United fans; many of whom do not share his enthusiasm for dull football. There have been highs and lows during the Dutchman’s reign at Old Trafford, best remembered on the internet for his rendition of his own personal chant.

Utilising a ‘blurring’ pronunciation technique, Van Gaal uniquely blends all the phonetics of the song – uniting with the passionate Manchurians of the Stretford End:


This amazing clip spawned one of the best Family Guy vines on the web…



David Moyes: The Enthusiastic Technique

Van Gaal’s predecessor, David Moyes next managerial post was for the Spanish club Real Sociedad. Eager to show a willingness to master native dialect, the Scotsman sought to incorporate his beginner’s language classes wherever possible.

Dora the Explorer says: ‘Let’s count to 4!’:

Enunciation is critical when adopting a new language, watch here as David Moyes passionately announces Sociedad Midfielder Asier Illarramendi (IL-EE-ARA-MENDI) and rivals Athletic Bilbao.



God loves a trier David!



Steve McLaren: The ‘Keywords’ Technique

Grammar’s a bitch, who needs it!? Well the Dutch clearly don’t according to Steve Mclaren… sorry that’s pronounced Shteeve Mclaren. Ahead of a Champions League clash with Arsenal, former England Manager McClaren summarises the ambitions of his FC Twente side.



“I thought maybe one of them we would draw”. Even for a Yorkshireman, that’s some pretty phenomenal word order.