Footballers have had nicknames since the game began and have come from the dressing room, the fans even commentators in a moment of adulation. The standard of nicknames certainly range as well, from your obvious “Scholesy” and “Giggsy” to animal names “The flea” (Claudio Lopez),”Black Spider” Lev Yashin to downright obscure “The Gardener” Julio Cruz and “The sound of Thunder” Luigi Riva! This week I’ve listed my top ten, points for originality and general hilarity…
10. Dan Petrescu – Agent Mulder
The right-back is best known for dying his hair blond with the rest of the Romanian team for the Euro 2000 campaign. He is also well-known for bombing up and down the right flank for Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday. He is less known for partnering Gillian Anderson and solving paranormal criminal cases…probably because he never has. But he does totally look like David Duchovny!
9. Aljoša Asanović – Vatreni Lakat (The Fiery Elbow)
The Croatian midfielder had a habit of running with his arms out and occasionally his opponents had a habit of bouncing off his elbows hence the nickname. You can see what I mean here, arms flailing in the box before scoring.
8. Stephen Elliot – Sleeves
The Hearts striker got his moniker from his teammates while at Sunderland. It comes from his habit to enter the dressing room before a game and declare “Come on lads let’s roll our sleeves up”. Since then it’s stuck, and you can often find Stephen Elliot still wearing long sleeves in May (possibly just so he can roll them up).
7. Fitz Hall – One Size
One Size Fitz Hall. Simple, original and laugh out loud funny. The nickname started during his time at Oldham – credit to that man (or woman) at Boundary Park who concocted the pun.
6. Kiki Musampa – Chris
Keeping along the lines of “One Size” this one is slightly more subtle which gives it the slightly higher ranking. “Chris” Musampa didn’t gift the supporters much but they presented him with this memorable moniker (both puns intended there).
5. Diego Maradona – Barrilete Cósmico (Cosmic Kite)
Of course Diego Maradona was adorned with nicknames during his illustrious career, but the most original is “Barrilete Cósmico” in English, Cosmic Kite. The name was given to him by legendary Uruguayan radio commentator Victor Hugo Morales and was first heard by the Argentine public in 1986, just after he scored that goal against England. “Cosmic Kite. What planet have you come from?” he screamed. Years later the commentator said he had believed Maradona’s dribbling was so unpredictable that for opponents it must have been like chasing a kite in the wind.
4. Saeed Al-Owairan – Desert Maradona
Moving on from the real thing to an imitation. In USA ’94 Saeed Al-Owairan picked up the ball in his own half against Belgium, then did this. Inevitable comparisons to Maradona followed and the Saudi Arabian became known as “Maradona of the Arabs” or more commonly “Desert Maradona”. Maybe the name went to his head because after the World Cup he was banned for a year for drinking alcohol (prohibited by Saudi law).
3. Duncan Ferguson – Disorderly
It’s funny because it’s true, goes the oft used phrase. Duncan “Disorderly” Ferguson was (still is?) a loose cannon and has racked up four charges of assault. Three of the four involved drinking (two were at taxi-ranks after a night out, one resulted from a fight with a fisherman in a pub) and the other occurred on the pitch, this infamous headbutt. As far as I know he remains the only professional footballer to be imprisoned for their actions on the field. He is certainly the only player to do this to Paul Ince!
2. Ferenc Puskás – The Galloping Major and Cañoncito Pum Pum (The booming cannon)
They don’t make nicknames like this anymore. It is just so grandiose, and for some reason makes me snigger when I say it out loud. Puskás did actually hold the rank of major as well. His second nickname is in there because it says “Pum Pum” which makes me giggle like a naughty schoolgirl!
1. Claude Makélélé – El Trípode (The Tripod)
Not one our younger readers might understand – he was always known for his big tackles on the pitch, it seems that extends into off-field activities as well…
Oh my! Enough of these nicknames! Any personal favourites, note them down below. There were hundreds to choose from. Friday we will head into more serious territory; the Copa Sudamericana is reaching its halfway stage I’ll mark out the Top Ten teams left in the tournament (gamblers pens at the ready!).