Definition of 12th man

When 2 teams of 11 players are challenging each other in a closely fought match of football, one of them needs an extra buff. If only they had an extra player that would boost them to score that winning goal. To many players, the support of the fans around the stadium is that extra player. That is why, over time, the fans who occupy the stadium (often home fans, but can be away fans as well) become the "12th man".

The meaning of the term 12th Man is explained.  What is it?Quite a large number of European clubs actually devote or retire the number 12 in honour of the fans, treating them as though they are a physical player. These include huge clubs in various countries like Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Lazio S.S., Rangers, PSV, Feyenoord, Sporting CP and Fenerbahce S.K. Players are not allowed to wear the number 12 at these clubs on account of it being dedicated to the fans.

Fans can actually make up quite a difference in these games, as can be seen in the COVID pandemic. In the 2020/21 English Premier League season, at the time of writing, there are currently more away wins than there are wins at home. Many are attributing this to the lack of fans at the home grounds, which might normally intimidate visitors into defending more or inspiring the home team.

While the end results are yet to be seen, so far, there is clearly a difference in how teams play and perform without their "12th man". One can only hope that these "players" return sooner rather than later, so that they can make themselves heard once more.