False nine: football tactics explained

Carlos Tevez in action for Manchester City against former club Manchester United in 2013.
Carlos Tevez one of the best false nines in recent history (Image credit: Getty Images)

Pinpointing where the false nine originated is a tricky task. Some trace it back to as early as the 1890s, others believe the tactic was used by the Hungary’s Golden Team team of the 1950s.

Most started to hear it more often after Pep Guardiola deployed Lionel Messi in the role, when the Argentine was at the peak of his powers. It is also one of the most misused football tactical terms of the 21st century.

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Jack Lacey-Hatton
Freelance writer

Jack has worked as a sports reporter full-time since 2021. He previously worked as the Chief Women’s Football Writer at the Mirror, covering the England Women’s national team and the Women’s Super League. Jack has covered a number of major sporting events in recent years including the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on the ground in Australia.