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Football Positions UK Guide 2021

Football can be both a simple and a complex game. There are four basic positions on the field: goalkeeper, defence, midfield, and attack. However, within those brackets are more specific positions and roles that players fit into.

Soccer Positions UK Explained

The following article will go through some of these more specific football positions, explaining the roles players are likely to be asked to fulfil and simplifying the football lexicon.


As far as positions go, this is a straightforward one. A goalkeeper’s main job is to stop the ball from going in the back of the net. A good goalkeeper needs to be agile, quick, brave, and preferably tall.

Sweeper keepers are more aggressive goalkeepers who take up an advanced starting position and look to ‘sweep up’ any loose balls in and around the area. Manuel Neuer is perhaps the best example of this type of goalkeeper.

football goalkeeper position


Teams will usually line up with two or three centre-backs in their defence. As the name suggests, these are defenders who play in central areas and are often the last line of defence in terms of outfield players.

Centre-backs need to be strong, have good positioning and communication, and benefit from being good in the air.


Full-back is the collective term for a left-back and a right-back. These are the players positioned closest to the touchline either side of the centre-backs. The role of a full-back can vary from team to team but generally, full-backs are expected to provide width in attack and drop back when not in possession.

Full-backs need to have good stamina, strong tackling, and preferably precise crossing in their arsenal.

football full back position


There are a lot of similarities between wing-backs and full-backs. The main distinction between the two is that wing-backs occupy a more advanced starting position and only feature in sides with three centre-backs.

Wing-backs need to have all the same attributes as a full-back but will likely be more adept in attack and may need to be more positionally aware given the lack of wide cover they often have.

Defensive Midfielders

Moving on to the midfield, defensive midfield is, as the name suggests, the most defensive of the midfield positions. These players can have a variety of different roles from ball-winners to deep-lying playmakers.

Whatever the case, defensive midfielders have to be positionally disciplined, strong passers, and skilled in all defensive aspects of the game.

Central Midfielders

Slightly more advanced than a defensive mid, central midfielders can perform similar roles. However, centre mids can also be expected to take up box-to-box roles where they cover large areas of the pitch, or more advanced playmaking roles.

The attributes needed for a central midfielder are very role dependent, but in general, it’s useful to be an all-rounder.

football central midfielder position

Attacking Midfielders

Moving even further up the field, attacking midfielders are often the chief creator in a team. Not all sides will play with an attacking midfielder, but those that do will likely rely on this play to create chances.

Naturally, attacking midfielders need to have good vision, excellent passing, and also benefit from long-range shooting.


Blurring the line between midfield and attack, wingers are the most advanced wide players in a team. They will sit in front of full-backs/wing-backs and are expected to contribute heavily in attack.

Wingers often have a preference to go on the outside and cross the ball, or cut inside perhaps on to their stronger foot and go for goal. Those attributes that make for a good winger are pace, dribbling, and crossing/shooting.

football winger position

Inside Forwards

A team will either play with wingers or inside forwards but not both. Inside forwards take up a similar position to wingers but are usually a bigger goal threat and don’t tend to hug the touchline as often.

For some teams, like Liverpool, inside forwards are the main goal threats in a side and as such must be excellent finishers. As with wingers, pace, and dribbling are also vital to being a successful inside forward.


Along with central midfielders, strikers (sometimes known as centre forwards) probably have the largest array of roles associated with them. Strikers can come in all shapes and sizes but generally speaking, they are expected to score goals.

Advanced forwards, pressing forwards, and goal poachers are less involved in build-up play and tend to occupy very attacking positions, getting into the box when possible. Target men usually play with a strike partner and are tasked with winning aerial battles. Lastly, deep-lying forwards like Roberto Firmino, drop deep aiming to pull defenders away from their position and create space for others to run into.

football striker position

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FAQs About Football Positions UK:

What are the positions in football in the UK?

The four main positions are goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, and attacker. For more in-depth positions have a read of the above article.

What are the 11 positions in soccer?

A team’s positions will depend on their formation. In general, a team will field one goalkeeper, three to five defenders, two to five midfielders, and one to three attacks.

What are the playing positions in football?

Football is constantly evolving and new positions and roles emerge as times change. For more information on the most common positions in today’s game, read above.

Which position is best in football?

This is entirely down to personal preference and your skillset.

What is the easiest position in football?

There are no easy positions. You may, however, be more suited to specific positions than others.

What is the hardest position in football?

Again, no position is easier/harder than another. It entirely depends on what you’re good at.

What football position should I play in height and weight?

Height and weight can certainly influence which positions you’re most suited to but they do not define you. There are examples of short centre-backs who have mastered their position for example.

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