Definition of total football in English:

total football


mass nounSoccer
  • An attacking style of play in which every outfield player is able to play in any position as required during the course of a game.

    • ‘His performance was as close to total football as one will see at this level.’
    • ‘The man who gave us the "total football" style of play remains an icon.’
    • ‘The orange-shirted side played total football to silence their many critics and post out a warning to all that there's life in the 'old dogs' yet.’
    • ‘To transform a so-called boring team into a complete total football team, he must be some sort of genius.’
    • ‘The players underestimated the qualities of their opponents, whose 2-1 extra-time victory ushered in the era of total football.’
    • ‘Although the four Brazilians had agreed to play total football, he felt that his teammates had abandoned him on the right side of the field.’
    • ‘Brought up on the total football ethic sweeping through Holland, he was born and bred on exciting fluid football.’
    • ‘The tournament was set alight by a brilliant Dutch team playing Total Football.’
    • ‘I'm hoping that he dishes out some similar lessons in total football.’
    • ‘They played a version of the total football that the Dutch were famous for.’


1970s: translation of Dutch totaalvoetbal. The style was originally associated with Ajax FC of Amsterdam and the Dutch national team.