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Great Soccer Nicknames

Every soccer star has had or has a nickname.  It's a way of bestowing honor, respect, and love on to a player - a way to make the player part of the collective fan family in a sense.  How do you reach a player or connect to them?  Giving a player a nickname is a way to do that.  To show how much you care about the player or a way to have fun with a player - it's almost like the more nicknames a player has the more popular the player is.

A good nickname can show the reverence fans or the media have for the athlete, and it can demonstrate a wicked sense of humour, but always, it should demonstrate that sport, at its essence, should maintain a sense of fun.

Messi a houselhold name in his native country, but he is not bothered with his new nickname of the Atomic Flea or La Pulga Atómica.

Fernando Jose Torres Sanz ('El Nino' - the kid), is the former Atletico Madrid star forward and now doing the same star turn for Liverpool.  He's a player who will probably always look young.

Two famous goal scorers: Edson Arantes do Nascimento and Manuel Francisco dos Santos, are better known as Pele and Garrincha.

Below is a lit of nicknames for past and current soccer stars.

  • Francesco Totti - Er Pupone (The Big Baby)
  • Lionel Messi - Atomic Flea
  • Iker Casillas - El Gato (The Cat)
  • Fernando Torres - El Nino (the kid)
  • Carlos Valderrama - El Pibe
  • Zinedine Zidane - Zizou
  • Paul Scholes - Ginger Ninja
  • Enzo Francescoli - El Principe (The Prince)
  • Michael Owen - Wonder Boy
  • Claudio Lopez - “El Piojo” (The Louse)
  • Dennis Bergkamp - "The Menace"
  • Javier Zanetti - The Tractor
  • Javier Hernandez - Chicharito or "Little Pea"
  • Eidur Gudjohnsen - Ice Man
  • Gennaro Gattuso - The Pit Bull
  • Pablo Aimar - El Payaso (the clown)
  • David Beckham - Golden Balls, Spice Boy, or Becks
  • Guillermo Barros Schelotto - El Mellizo ("the twin")
  • Wayne Rooney - The White Pele
  • Diego Milito - El Principe
  • Nicolas Anelka - Le Sulk
  • Roberto Baggio - The Divine Ponytail
  • Shevchenko - Sheva
  • Ole Gunner Solskjaer - Baby faced assassin
  • Dwight Yorke - The Smiling Assassin
  • Esteban Granero - The Pirate
  • Franz Beckenbauer - The Kaiser
  • Ferenc Puskas - The Galloping Major
  • Eusebio - The ' Black Panther'
  • Paul Ince - The ' Guv' nor'
  • Kevin Keegan - Mighty Mouse
  • Darren Anderton - Shaggy
  • Paul Gascoigne - Gazza
  • Jack Charlton - The Giraffe
  • Marco Van Basten - The Swan of Utrecht
  • Ruud Gullit - Il Tulipo Nero
  • Stuart Pearce - Psycho
  • Roy Keane - Keano
  • Thierry Henry - Titi
  • Julio Baptista - The Beast
  • Steven Gerrard - Captain Courageous, Huyton Hammer
  • Dennis Bergkamp - non-Flying Dutchman, a variation on The Flying Dutchman (he's afraid to fly)
  • Carlos Valderrama - 'El Pibe' means 'the kid' as well
  • Gabriel Batistuta – Batigol
  • Alfredo di Stefano – La Saeta Rubia (the Blond Arrow)
  • Diego Maradona – Pelusa (Dishevelled one)
  • Ronaldinho - means little Ronaldo
  • Ronaldo – Ronnie
  • Hristo Stoichkov – the Dagger
  • Peter Schmeichel – the Great Dane
  • Eric Cantona – The King
  • Michael Essien – the Bison
  • Samuel Eto'o – Pantera negra (the Black Panther)
  • Frank Lampard – Fat Frank, Super Frank
  • John Terry – JT (And, don't be his best friend if you have a pretty girlfriend)
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Ibra
  • Carles Puyol – Tarzan

Related to nicknames, Slate also has a great article on Brazil and how seventeen of the 23 players on Brazil's current World Cup roster go by a single name.

"Some scholars speculate that the use of single names could have its roots in the slave system. (Slavery was abolished in Brazil in the late 19th century.) When they were documented, slaves would be referred to either by their first name only—say, Joao—or by their first name and country of origin—say, Joao Congo.

When the English introduced soccer to Brazil in the 1800s, Brazilians referred to players in the English manner, by their surnames. But as the sport grew in popularity, nicknaming took over. When the Brazilian national team played its first match in 1914, the squad featured a forward called Formiga, which means "ant" in Portuguese."

Sources:  Guy Sports

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