A clean sheet
is a football
term, meaning a game in which the team referred to have not conceded any goals. The main purpose of goalkeepers
is to keep a clean sheet.
Example: Team A beats Team B 3-0, so Team A are said to have "kept a clean sheet," as they have not conceded any goals.
The equivalent term in American English is shutout; however the standard term used for international and club competitions around the world when no goals are conceded is a clean sheet.
Origin of Term
The term first appeared in the 1930s and derived from sports reporting in which the reporter would use separate pieces of paper to record different events of the game. If one team did not let in a goal, then that team's "details of goals conceded" column would be left blank, hence resulting in a 'clean sheet'.
Alternatively the term may post back to Willy "Fatty" Foulke during his Bradford City days. While playing against Accrington Stanley in February 1907, it is said that Foulke's jersey clashed with the red of Stanley and no-one could find a jersey large enough to fit him, so he played wrapped in a sheet, procured from a nearby house. Bradford won the game 1–0 and Foulke didn't dive during the match, so he kept a 'clean sheet'.
In Fantasy Football
defenders and goalkeepers get awarded points for keeping a clean sheet.