There are several theories about the origin of the term “nutmeg”. Wikipedia says it comes from “tunnel,” (like a tunnel through the legs) and offers several words used for the trick in foreign languages, including
It certainly sounds more convincing than Jimmy Hill's claim that nutmeg was coined during the 1940s to describe the skill of placing the ball between an opponent's legs before retrieving it the ...
Etymology. An early use of the term is in the novel A bad lot by Brian Glanville (1977). According to Alex Leith's book Over the Moon, Brian - The Language of Football, "nuts refers to the testicles of the player through whose legs the ball has been passed and nutmeg is just a development from this".
Why is it called a nutmeg in soccer? There have been several explanations as to where the term nutmeg came from in soccer. However, the most reliable comes from Victorian slang, as listed in the Oxford English dictionary that explains that the nutmeg means ‘to be tricked or deceived’ or an act that makes someone ‘look foolish.'
The use of the word nutmeg to mean leg, as in Cockney rhyming slang, has also been put forward as an explanation. Another theory is put forward by Peter Seddon in his book, Football Talk - The Language And Folklore Of The World's Greatest Game.
The first version says that the term nutmeg in soccer comes from Cockney rhyming slang. According to this origin theory, as well as The Guardian, nutmeg is cockney rhyming slang for the leg. During the 1940s, when English players would play the ball between an opposing team players’ legs, the crowd shouted Nutmegs.
Tim Turner, London, UK. It's rhyming slang. Nutmegs = Legs. Tim, London UK. I doubt the rhyming slang answer. It's 'a nutmeg', not 'nutmegs', and you can't push the ball through an opponent's leg.
Examples Of How Nutmeg Is Used In Commentary. 1. Jameson is famous for his ability to nutmeg defenders when they least expect it. 2. As soon as she nutmegged her opponent, the crowd went wild. Sports The Term Is Used. 1. Soccer