Hard: The eye of a needle
Premier Vocabulary is a mini-podcast for you to learn football English one word at a time. We have three different levels for you: easy, medium and hard.
This episode is hard so we’re looking at more difficult football phrases and idioms.
Learn more football vocabulary with Premier Skills English. Each lesson in our Premier Vocabulary section looks at one football word or phrase. This lesson looks at the phrase the eye of a needle.
You can find more lessons on the side of this page.
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich and welcome to Premier Skills English - Premier Vocabulary.
Jack: Hi there! I’m Jack. We’re here to help you with your football English. Premier Vocabulary is a mini-podcast for you to learn football English one word at a time.
Rich: We have three different levels for you: easy, medium and hard.
Jack: This episode is hard so we’re looking at more difficult football phrases and idioms.
Rich: The phrase we are looking at in this episode is: eye of a needle.
Jack: The phrase is very old and translations of the phrase can be found in Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts.
Rich: The phrase is used as a metaphor - a metaphor is a figure of speech that can help explain an idea or make a comparison.
Jack: The eye of a needle is a metaphor used to describe a very narrow opening.
Rich: A needle is what we use for sewing - for sewing clothes. It’s a small piece of metal with a sharp point at one end and a tiny little hole at the other to put the thread.
Jack: This tiny little hole is called the eye. The eye of the needle.
Rich: I tried sewing once but after an hour of trying to put the thread through the eye of the needle I gave up and I asked my mum for some help.
Jack: Yes, it a very small gap. A very narrow opening and something that can be very difficult or for some impossible.
Rich: Both the Quran and the Bible use the phrase in a similar way. They talk about a camel going through the eye of a needle.
Jack: Well, that would be impossible!
Rich: Yes, exactly and that’s why the phrase is used. Let’s have a look at how the phrase is used in football.
Jack: We’ve talked about the eye of a needle being a very narrow opening and something that is very difficult or impossible to pass through.
Rich: The phrase is usually used in football to describe a pass that is very difficult to make successfully especially when there are a lot of opposition defenders around.
Jack: Creative players like David Silva and Juan Mata are often able to put the ball through the eye of a needle.
Rich: They are able to find little spaces to pass the ball to a teammate and create chances to score when there are lots of defenders and little space available.
Jack: Going back to the sewing metaphor we often hear the verb thread when we hear this phrase - the thread is the thin string of cotton we use when sewing and the verb is what we do when we pass something long and thin through a narrow gap or hole.
Rich: A good player can thread the ball through the eye of a needle.
Jack: Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton once famously said this about the French player, Michel Platini. Charlton said that Platini could thread the ball through the eye of a needle.
Rich: But that’s impossible!
Jack: Not for some players.
Rich: There is the final whistle!
Jack: We’ll be back soon with more Premier Vocabulary from Premier Skills English.
Rich: Bye for now and enjoy your football.
Who can thread a pass through the eye of a needle?