What does "pull the trigger" mean in football (soccer)?

11' Donald Love almost opened the scoring with a cracker! Pulled the trigger as he raced down the right flank and his effort sailed narrowly over the top! Moments later Gooch tries his luck but his ball flashed across the face of goal and wide.


To shoot the ball in soccer means to kick the ball. To shoot a gun is to pull the trigger. So this is just another way of saying: to kick the ball.

Football commentators can use colorful language. This is just one example of it. It is not a football "term" per se.

  • I immediately picked up on the Christmas cracker / firecracker allusions with OP's example, but I can honestly say that in all my years I've never been consciously aware of the shoot / gun connection in relation to shots at goal. It's true we might also say He fired the ball into the back of the net, but directly-related booted and indirectly-related hammered are both probably more likely in that exact context. – FumbleFingers Apr 2 '18 at 19:27
  • cracker, rather than an allusion to Christmas cracker, is from the sense of "crack"="the best" (eg a crack shot), from earlier verbal sense "crack" meant "do with quickness". – James K Apr 2 '18 at 19:52
  • @James K: I did provide that definition (with a link) in my own answer. Obviously we don't necessarily expect deliberate allusions to broader contexts like that in a sports commentary (as opposed to carefully-constructed literary / poetic text), but that hardly "invalidates" my perception of the broader context. Post-modernism ("The text is all") established that principle long ago - it's what you read that counts, not what the author wrote. – FumbleFingers Apr 3 '18 at 12:28
  • @FumbleFingers Do you ever listen to Ray Hudson? He builds all sorts of metaphors into his commentary. The same goes for commentators in Spanish. Read this and then take a listen to the podcast: si.com/soccer/2018/01/11/… – Lambie Apr 3 '18 at 13:35
  • There is no conscious connection. There is merely a twitter feed that uses the expression: pull the trigger. There is no gun. I am just explaining what pull the trigger means in English. Here is shoot: sportsessionplanner.com/s/yGlQ/… – Lambie Apr 3 '18 at 13:41

It's not a football-related idiom at all. It's effectively just a "one-off" usage.

Actually, to me it comes across as something of a bungled "mixed metaphor", because I understand cracker as alluding to Christmas cracker and firecracker (as well as the idiomatic slang usage cracker = thing that is very good). But Christmas crackers don't have triggers (two people pull them apart, one from each end, to "detonate" them), and firecrackers have fuses, not triggers.

Perhaps I'm a bit harsh. But all the writer means is the player started the play / attempt to score. Metaphorically, he suddenly / unexpectedly started to unleash his "offensive / attacking" power (his playing skills), the way one might pull the trigger / open fire with an actual offensive weapon (gun).

  • Yes, I believe I said it was not a football term . It is just colorful language. Donald Love attempted to score a goal. – Lambie Apr 3 '18 at 13:43
  • @Lambie: Indeed. We were obviously comnposing our answers at the same time. If yours had already been there with It is not a football "term" per se I wouldn't have started writing. But since we both make slightly different additional observations, I decided to let mine stand after I saw yours. – FumbleFingers Apr 3 '18 at 14:04

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