The humble nutmeg is the last move a player wants to be used against them on the football pitch.
While it’s undeniably embarrassing to be nutmegged, fans love to rally behind players and applaud their team for doing the deed. However, people are only realising why the classic trick is called ‘a nutmeg.’
And who could forget the banners emblazoned with ‘Luis Suarez could nutmeg a Mermaid’ back when he played for Liverpool?
Other players who have made the move their own include Eden Hazard, Ronaldinho and Tobin Heath.
Performing a nutmeg looks easy enough, right? All a player has to do is kick the ball through the legs of their opponents.
However, this trick takes serious skill. And while lots of football fans are familiar with the nutmeg, some are only starting to realise why the timeless move shares its name with ground spice.
According to The Guardian, one of the original claims made is that the skill gets its name from 1940s Cockney rhyming slang.
It’s thought that nutmegs means ‘legs’. However, the author of ‘Football Talk — The Language And Folklore Of The World’s Greatest Game’, Peter Seddon, doesn’t agree.
In his 2004 book, he explains that the origins of ‘nutmegging’ directly relate to the transportation and trade of nutmeg in the 1800s.
“Nutmegs were such a valuable commodity that unscrupulous exporters were to pull a fast one by mixing a helping of wooden replicas into the sacks being shipped to England,” Seddon writes.
“Being nutmegged soon came to imply stupidity on the part of the duped victim and cleverness on the part of the trickster.”
Seddon also discusses ‘nutmegged’ being listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. There, the meaning reads, “Arising in the 1870s which in Victorian slang came to mean ‘to be tricked or deceived, especially in a manner which makes the victim look foolish’.”
While the direct origin is still unknown, it hasn’t stopped the nutmeg from becoming a fan-favourite move. However, not everyone enjoys a nutmeg — especially players.
“I remember in training once we're doing one-on-ones he [Cole] nutmegged me and obviously all the boys took the p*** out of me. The next minute I smashed him and that was it.”
“He just had to take that,” Dicks continued. “He was a young lad, I was the captain and I just said to him, ‘Don’t ever do that again… Luckily enough back then you could kick [players] so if I got the chance I’d let them have it. Most wingers if you kicked them properly, they didn’t come back. But if you didn’t get them, I’d be struggling for the rest of the game.”