How to talk to (and snag) a soccer guy

Heather Leiphart / AP
How can you grab the attention of soccer fans during World Cup season? It'll require a little insider knowledge.

When Jess Lander went to South Africa for the World Cup in 2010, she found herself in a sea of soccer fans, hoping to get them to direct their mysterious foreign accents toward her. Luckily Lander, a sports and relationships writer and longtime soccer player, had a few tricks up her sleeve. “If you can strike up an intelligent conversation with men about the teams, players, and game,” she says, “you'll suddenly be the only girl in the room.”

Soccer players are universally known to be the sexiest athletes, and their fans aren’t half-bad, either. As they stream out of the woodworks for the 2014 World Cup, admirers of those flat abs and strong calves emerge to grab a piece of the soccer pie. If you’re like Lander, you’ve got a leg up on getting noticed. But you don’t have to be an expert to engage the fan with the six-pack showing through his jersey in a little game-time banter. Here’s how to build rapport with the same effortless grace that helps Lionel Messi find the back of the net.

Dress the part
Watching a soccer game at a bar is not the time for short skirts and strappy sandals. Lander advises that you stick with fan gear. “Jerseys are the most authentic apparel. But if you're choosing a player, try not to choose the most popular, as it won't help you stand out from the other bandwagon fans.” Make sure you know a thing or two about the player whose name is emblazoned across your back. And steer clear of the girly gear. “The worst thing you can wear,” warns Lander, “is a pink jersey, or anything with rhinestones.”

ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP - Getty Images
Going for goal: Argentina's forward and captain Lionel Messi celebrates a score.

Know the greats
Knowing who David Beckham is says more about your ability to Google “sexiest athletes” than it does about your familiarity with the sport. Pete Burridge of soccer news website the18.com says a little research goes a long way. “Order a pint of Guinness and confidently enter into a debate about who is the best of the best.” Have the ammo to back up your claims, and maybe, suggests Burridge, a few obscure facts. An example? “How Lionel Messi has come a long way since his debut match as a pro, where he lasted only 44 seconds before being thrown out.”

Tuck away some trivia
Which goal was scored with the “hand of God?” Who’s responsible for the most famous head butt in soccer history? If you want to keep that conversation going, you need to know about more than Beckham’s left bicep tattoo. “Show your knowledge,” advises Burridge. The Brazuca soccer ball, for example, is so famous it even has its own Twitter account. “Chat up the person next to you about the new trend in boots,” he offers. (Black is out, and bright neon hues are in.) A little extra knowledge will also keep your new buddy’s soccer references from flying over your head like a misdirected shot on goal.

Water break! Your World Cup burning questions answered

Show some passion
To catch a soccer guy’s eye, you must partake in the passion of the game. Cheer as if your life depends on it, and unleash the fury when your team sinks a shot. Pax Tandon is a positive psychology expert who agrees that a little bit of passion can help you get inside his head: “Curse like a sailor, but do it in a foreign language.” It’ll no doubt “impress even the most die-hard player or fan that you’ve gone multi-lingual with your ardency for the game.” If you’re not yelling “goal!” with the best of them — as in, adding at least twenty-seven extra “O’s” to the word — you might as well not have shown up at all.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images
When it comes to a heated game, fans have their eyes on the TV.

Don’t try your moves ‘til the game is over
You may have some moves up your sleeve, but he’s not taking his eyes off the field until the last whistle blows. Leah Jantzen, a relationship expert who helps couples connect over sports, warns against making your move in the middle of a play. “Rule number one is do not try and talk to someone watching the World Cup while it is on. If they are a big fan, then they are very engrossed in the game and do not want to make small talk.” Interrupting a soccer guy mid-match is like asking a neurosurgeon whether he prefers the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, mid-surgery. Wait until the end of the game. If he’s reeling from a loss, find a way to put a smile on his tear-stained face. If he’s riding the euphoria of a win, redirect a smidgen of that elation in your direction. Whatever you do, keep your hands off that ball, and your eyes on the prize.

Video: Soccer coach’s ‘get out of work’ letter goes viral

  • Slideshow Photos

    Bongarts

    DEU: FIFA World Cup 1954

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    In honor of Throwback Thursday and in celebration of the World Cup, enjoy these historic photos from key soccer matches of yesteryear.

  • First World Cup

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Uruguay, 1930 -

    In honor of Throwback Thursday and in celebration of the World Cup, enjoy these historic photos from key soccer matches of yesteryear.

    Uruguayan captain Jose Nazassi, left, shakes hands with his Argentinian counterpart 'Nolo' Ferreira on July 30, 1930 before the final of the first World Cup competition in Montevideo, which Uruguay won. With them is referee John Langenus and linesmen Saucedo and Henry Christophe. Uruguay won 4-2.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • World Cup Equalizer

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Uruguayan keeper Enrique Ballestrero fails to save a shot from Argentina's Carlos Peucelle, leading to a tied 2-2 score in the final of the first World Cup competition in Montevideo, Uruguay on July 30, 1930. Uruguay eventually won 4-2.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • 1930 WORLD CUP FINAL

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Members of Uruguay's team celebrate during the 1930 World Cup Final.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • French defender Jacques Mairesse (L) blo

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Italy, 1934 -

    French defender Jacques Mairesse, left, blocks the shot of Austrian forward Anton Schall during the World Cup first round soccer match between Austria and France on May 27, 1934 in Turin. Austria defeated France 3-2 in extra time.

    AFP-Getty Images / AFP-Getty Images
  • Italian national soccer team players pos

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Italian national soccer team players pose for a group picture on June 10, 1934 in Rome before their World Cup final against Czechoslovakia. Italy won the title, beating Czechoslovakia 2-1 in extra time.

    AFP-Getty Images / AFP-Getty Images
  • Swiss forward Lauro Amado (C, dark jersey) tries t

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    France, 1938 -

    Swiss forward Lauro Amado, center, in dark jersey, tries to kick the ball past German goalkeeper Rudi Raftl as forward Andre "Trello" Abegglen, second from right, looks on during the World Cup second preliminary round soccer match between the two teams on June 9, 1938 at the Parc des Princes in Paris. After playing to a 1-1 tie on June 4 in Paris, Switzerland won the second match 4-2 as Abegglen scored the last two goals.

    AFP-Getty Images / AFP-Getty Images
  • The captains of the French and Italian n

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    The captains of the French and Italian national soccer teams, Etienne Mattler, right, and Giuseppe Meazza, watch the coin toss as Belgian referee Louis Baert stands in the middle on June 12, 1938 in the suburbs of Paris before the start of the World Cup quarterfinal match between the two nations.

    AFP-Getty Images / AFP-Getty Images
  • Joe Gaetjens

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Brazil, 1950 -

    U.S. center forward Joe Gaetjens is carried off by cheering fans after his team beat England 1-0 in the World Cup qualifier match at Belo Horizonte, Brazil on June 28, 1950. Gaetjens scored the winning goal in the tournament.

    AP / AP
  • SOCCER-WORLD CUP-1950-BRAZIL-SWEDEN

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Brazilian forward Ademir de Menezes, center, watches the ball go into the net as he scores his team's opening goal past Swedish goalkeeper Kalle Svensson during the World Cup final round match on July 9, 1950 at Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Ademir scored four goals as Brazil beat Sweden 7-1.

    AFP-Getty Images / AFP-Getty Images
  • Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Uruguay player Ghiggia scores during the World Cup final against Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 16, 1950. Uruguay defeated Brazil 2-1 to win the 1950 World Cup.

    AP / AP
  • Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Switzerland, 1954 -

    West Germany's international player Josef Röhrig falls to the ground. West Germany won the World Cup qualifier match 3-1 on March 28, 1954 and qualified for the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland.

    AP / AP
  • RAHN GROSICS

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    West Germany's Helmut Rahn, center with arms raised, celebrates after tying the score in the World Cup final against Hungary at Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, Switzerland on July 4, 1954. Hungarian players, including goalie Gyula Grosics, on ground at right, react to the goal. West Germany went on to defeat Hungary 3-2 to win the World Cup.

    AP / AP
  • DEU: FIFA World Cup 1954

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    The West German team celebrates after winning the World Cup 1954 final match between Hungary and Germany on July 4, 1954 in Bern, Switzerland.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Brazil Wins

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Sweden, 1958 -

    The Brazilian football team runs with the Swedish flag after beating Sweden 5-2 in the 1958 World Cup final in Stockholm.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Pele In The Air

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Brazilian football star Pele and Swedish goalkeeper Kalle Svensson jump for the ball during the 1958 World Cup Final in Sweden.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • The Flying Welshman

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Ivor Allchurch of Wales jumps for the ball against Hideraldo Bellini and Nilton De Sordi of Brazil during their World Cup quarter final match in Gothenburg on June 21, 1958.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Santos, left, and Pele of Brazil hug each other after Brazil won the World Cup Final, in Rasunde Stadium, Stockholm, on June 29,1958. Brazil defeated Sweden in the Final 5-2 and won the Jules Rimet Trophy.

    AP / AP
  • Mexican Score

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    England, 1966 -

    Mexican footballer Enrique Borja, no. 20, is embraced by teammates after scoring Mexico's goal against France during their Group A World Cup match at Wembley on July 13, July 1966. France later equalised and the game finished 1-1.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Football Fashion

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Football fan Elaine Humby from Streatham, London, wearing decorative World Cup earrings to the kick-off the match between England and Uruguay at Wembley on 1 July 11, 1966.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Missed Brazilian Chance

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    A Brazilian attack is diverted by the Hungarian goalkeeper Gerei in their Group C match at Goodison Park during the 1966 World Cup in England, on July 15, 1966. Hungary beat Brazil 3-1 to eliminate them from the quarter finals.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • World Cup Match

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Pedro Rocha scores for Uruguay in their Group A World Cup match against France at the White City satdium on July 15, 1966. Uruguay won the match 2-1.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Shoots And Scores

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Portugal's Eusebio, in the white shirt, hammers his penalty kick past Russia's Lev Yashin, to put his country in the lead during the World Cup third place play off game at Wembley Stadium on July 29, 1966.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Brazilian forward Ja?rzinho falls down after being

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Mexico, 1970 -

    Brazilian forward Janrzinho falls down after being pushed off by Italian defender Giacinto Facchetti on June 21, 1970 in Mexico City during the World Cup final between Brazil and Italy. Brazil beat Italy 4-1 with Janrzinho scoring the third goal.

    AFP-Getty Images / AFP-Getty Images
  • West German forward Gerd Mueller (C) scores on a h

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    West Germany, 1974 -

    West German forward Gerd Mueller, center, scores on a header past Australian goalkeeper Jack Reilly, left, and defenders Manfred Schaefer, 2nd from left, and Ray Richards, right, during the World Cup first round soccer match between West Germany and Australia June 18, 1974 in Hamburg. West Germany beat Australia 3-0.

    AFP-Getty Images / AFP-Getty Images
  • Argentina Celebrate

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Argentina, 1978 -

    Argentina players celebrate as they score a goal during the FIFA World Cup Finals match against Hungary played at the Estadio Monumental, in Buenos Aires, Argentina on June 2, 1978. Argentina won the match 2-1.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Brazilian midfielder Zico jubilates after scoring

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Spain, 1982 -

    Brazilian midfielder Zico jubilates after scoring the first goal for his team as Argentinan goalkeeper Ubaldo Fillol watches the ball in the net July 2, 1982 in Barcelona during the World Cup second round soccer match between Brazil and Argentina. Brazil beat Argentina 3-1.

    AFP-Getty Images / AFP-Getty Images
  • Bulgarian Alexander Markov (L) kicks the

    Throwback World Cup: Hustle and heart set these historic photos apart

    of

    Mexico, 1986 -

    Bulgarian Alexander Markov, left, kicks the ball away from Argentinian midfielder Sergio Daniel Batista as he was about to hit it during the World Cup first round soccer match between Argentina and Bulgaria June 10, 1986 in Mexico City. Argentina won 2-0.

    AFP-Getty Images / AFP-Getty Images


0:00
 
0:00
Your video begins in
0:00
TOP