False Nine


(False nine is a football/soccer deception tactic/strategy, where the main striker drops deep into midfield create confusions between opponent defenders whether to follow or mark him, thus creating opportunities for wingers or attacking midfielders to score. The name false nine derived as typically the No.9 awarded the position of main or centre forward but not actually playing this role in the field.

To keep it simple for football non-followers, it’s a ploy by the main striker to keep the opponent busy thinking he is the man to stop, but his team members grabbing that opportunity and score instead.)


Rehman was sitting in the dressing room, its half time now. His team is behind 1 goal. The scoreboard is showing 0-1 after the intense 45 minutes.

He has past his glory days. Now he is just a 33 years old ‘once upon a time’ famous striker for his club, he is nothing but a shadow of himself. This whole season he is yet to score. Being a member of his football club for last 8 years, he hasn’t face such draught of scoring goals. Age is catching up with him, making him sluggish and blunt. There was a time when he was called ‘The Eagle’, where ever he was on the field his target was always the opponent goal post.

The new coach is kind to him. While he is giving chances to all new and young talents, he never side-lined Rehman, yet. Even he did not change his position from the centre forward. May be that is also his tactics. Like most of the games even in this match also he is playing his lone striker role.


Coach: “Boys we need to buckle up now. We just need a draw to reach the semi finale. Good news is we are lagging behind only 1 goal, and the bad news is we are behind. No matter how, we have to score in this half and also defend our post by any means. We will go in as 4-3-2-1 formation but slowly we will change into 4-3-3.

Gautam and Rudy will attack from left and right. I want Rehman to slide down time to time and make sure the ball supply is not cut off by their defenders, and yes at any opportunity Rajiv will make a run at their goal post, let them mark Rehman, he will make dummy runs at times. Rajiv you have missed two easy opportunities, if you miss another one, I’ll have your head.”


Rajiv, the 23 years old attacking midfielder, is the blue eyed boy of the current coach. He is young, fast and strong like an ox. This season he had already 4 goals in his name. He made his mark as a top notch game maker and also a scorer. Gautam and Rudy are the left and right wingers and they too have few goals under their names. Coach decided to play the false nine tactics to make the opponent guessing and the false nine is Rehman, he has clear instruction to give Rajiv and gautam more spaces to go on attack where he has to come down and keep the ball supply on.

Rehman let out long sigh, it’s very well might be the last season here for this club.


About 5 minutes to go for the 2nd half, Rehman was drinking water from the tap when he heard the voices from the next room

1st voice: “I don’t want to see those legs scoring a single goal in this match. I have promised Mr. Shastri that his club will win and go to semis. If even by mistake you score. I will cut off those legs and auction them.”

2nd voice: “Please Mr. Dhandhania, I won’t do a thing against your wish. But give another 1 month to pay you back, please…..”


With a palpitating heart and without a minute sound Rehman peeped inside the room, it’s the land shark Dhandhania talking to someone inside. Dhandhania is quite well known in the local football circuits. As most of the football players come from poor backgrounds, these loan sharks and betting skulls takes all the advantages of these poor players. They provide them loans in high interest rates and then make them puppets of their hands.

Many footballers career has been spoilt by these money lenders. Rehman was wondering who the other person inside the room with Dhandhania as he can’t clearly see. Dhandhania walked out of the room, followed by the player inside, it was Rajiv!!

In a flash Rehman remembered how Rajiv missed two easy chances in the 1st half, he was this close to put the ball behind the net and then he kicked it off the goalpost.


The whistle for the 2nd half is called, two teams were again up against each other. Rehman was keeping a close eye on Rajiv. The game was 73 minutes old when it happened.

A superb pass was made by Rudy to Rajiv, Rehman saw Rajiv making his move against the opponent goal post, as he dribbled and ran towards the goalkeeper and two other defenders, then the audiences and viewers of the ground witnessed something they never saw or heard before.

Rehman pushed down Rajiv and snatched the ball from Rajiv, probably the first time in the history of the game people saw the player snatching ball from his own teammate. Rehman dodged the defender and the advancing goalkeeper, confused the other defender by a left side run and then shoot the ball to his right. GOAL!!!!!! The spectators roared and stood up, bowed to the old magician of the game.


As the match ended 1-1, Rehman’s club easily moved to Semi-finals being ahead of numbers of goals scored. In the dressing room it was only Rehman and the coach standing.

Coach: “What was that all about?”

Rehman: “I got greedy coach, 5 games and no goal yet, I couldn’t control myself.

Coach: “You probably have to explain it to the management, where I see, your football career is over. I didn’t expect it from you. It’s a case of sheer disobedience and foolishness, you don’t make fouls against your own player and steal the ball from him….


As the coach walked out, Rajiv walked in…..

Rajiv: “Why?”

Rehman: ”I heard you and Dhandhania, couldn’t let you make the same mistake I have done years back.”

Rajiv’s broke down.

Rajiv: “You don’t have to do this, you don’t have to throw your career for me. The disciplinary action should have taken against me, not you.”

Rehman replied with a smile, “I am the false nine, remember?”


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