Brace in football meaning: Why are 2 goals called a brace?


It is common, when somebody scores two goals in football, to refer to them having scored a brace.


Although the term is often used in hunting when somebody brings home two pheasants for the cooking pot, it is commonly referred to as a brace; its origin goes back much further than that.


In Greek, for example, the word βραχίων means arm, and the plural of which refers to two arms. That, in turn, lends itself to the Latin brachium, again referring to the arm, and the old French brace, meaning a pair of arms.

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More familiar to people might be the verb to embrace – literally to put something in one’s arms. This has become a more generic term for a pair of something.



The term brace was first used in connection with football back in the 19th century, when the expression scoring a brace of goals became increasingly popular, but, over time and usage, it has been shortened to just “brace.”


There is no requirement for goals to be scored consecutively in a match to qualify as a brace – all it needs is for the same player to find the net twice in the course of a game to qualify for the description.

In theory, should a player score four goals in a match, it might be termed a double brace, although there is no official term to describe such a goalscoring feat.

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No prize or trophy goes with scoring a brace – unlike a hat-trick where tradition dictates that the scorer gets to take home the match ball.


Nor is there any account taken of the quality of opposition – while two goals against minnows in a domestic cup tie can be a lot easier to achieve than bagging two against Real Madrid in the Champions League, as far as the record books are concerned, they all count the same.


Nevertheless, in professional football, where players are often incentivized by goal bonuses, scoring twice in a match can often be rewarding for an individual player, to say nothing of the positive effect it can have on the final result for the team.

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A brace is often used in other sports to describe a pair of scores – in rugby, field hockey, and cricket, for example.

In terms of braces scored, the record for the Champions League is the 38 scored by Cristiano Ronaldo in 183 games played, although, as he has now moved to play his football in Saudi Arabia, it is highly unlikely he will add to that tally.


Almost inevitably, his closest challenger is his old rival Lionel Messi, who, in 156 games played in the Champions League, has managed a total of 34 braces.

Messi, though, does hold the lead in braces since the turn of the century in all competitions – he has 205 to his name for club and country.


From there, it is a significant drop to Robert Lewandowski, now in Barcelona colours, but who managed 20 while playing for Bayern Munich.