Best nicknames of famous football players
We are used to giving each other nicknames that describe a special personality, or a bold appearance feature like how someone behaves. Footballers' nicknames also follow this rule.
In the football area, some players are known for their particular nickname. Do you know why Messi is called flea? Why "the butcher of Bilbao" is Andoni Goikoetxea's nickname?
Some of the greatest footballers ever to grace a pitch have had their unique nicknames, such as El Ilusionista (Andres Iniesta), Zizou (Zinedine Zidane), Der Bomber (Gerd Muller) or O Fenomeno (Ronaldo Nazario) - so it is no surprise that even some of the lesser-known football players have well-known nicknames.
In football, sometimes the names on the back of the players’ jersey might have nothing to do with their real name. However, before a nickname goes on the back of the jersey, there is always a backstory. So, we are going to review the best nicknames of famous soccer players to find out the story behind them. So keep tight!
The football world has been home to the most creative nicknames down the years, here are some of the stories behind the best of those names.
Top best nicknames of soccer players
Let’s find out the origin of these famous soccer players’ nicknames and their conception.
Alex Morgan – Baby Horse
Alexandra Patricia Morgan was born on July 2, 1989, in San Dimas, California, USA. Ѕhе wаѕ the daughter of Раmеlа Ѕ., and Місhаеl Т. Моrgаn.
Megan Rapinoe explained Morgan's nickname and commented that Morgan received the nickname "Baby Horse" as soon as she joined the team. As the youngest player on the US women's national team, she was naturally called "baby." The "horse" part pays tribute to her long legs, youth, and speed.
Her teammates believe that Morgan looked like she's galloping as she races up and down the field.
Many might argue that Morgan is more of a stallion now, Alex was deemed the nickname because of her long legs and the way she ran and galloped around the pitch.
She was the youngest member of the U.S. team in the finals of the 2011 Women’s World Cup when she got deemed the nickname, so that’s where the “baby” part comes from.
Papa Bouba Diop - The Wardrobe
Papa Bouba Diop, born 28 January 1978, is a Senegalese former professional footballer.
The big Papa Bouba Diop with 1.95 cm height and 94 kg weight is definitely BIG! He is a huge aggressive defense player who would also like to play as center back. When he was playing for London Monarchs, William Perry - American football player - was known as "the fridge" because of his massive body.
Papa Bouba Diop too got his nickname for that reason.
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Ronaldo de Assis Moreira – Ronaldinho
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira started playing soccer at 7, and as a young soccer player, he originally got his nickname “Ronaldinho,” the small type of his original name, Ronaldo.
Ronaldinho was given the nickname because he was often the youngest and smallest player in his youth club matches.
The story behind Ronaldinho’s nickname was that Ronaldinho was one of Ronaldo’s biggest fans, and his name meant “Little Ronaldo.”
He was also given the nickname Gaûcho because his face was always gleeful, meaning “happy.”
Dinho, Ronnie El Brujo de Porto Alegre, and Ronaldinho Gaúcho are some other nicknames of the Brazilian.
Edinson Cavani - El Matador
Edinson Roberto Cavani Gómez, born 14 February 1987, is a Uruguayan professional footballer who plays as a striker for the Uruguay national team and is currently a free agent
The best scorer of all time in Paris Saint-Germain, Uruguyan striker, Edinson Cavani has a wonderful nickname. When he got his 350th goal career score, Spanish people started calling him "El Matador". The word means "Bullfighter".
Cavani's nickname means a professional lead striker who can hit the bull,s eye in the field at any situation. It really suits him.
Roberto Baggio - The Divine Ponytail
Roberto Baggio, born 18 February 1967, is an Italian former professional footballer who mainly played as a second striker, or as an attacking midfielder, although he was capable of playing in several offensive positions.
Like other footballers' nicknames, Baggio’s nickname has a story. His ponytail is so famous that people started calling him "The Divine Ponytail".
Roberto Baggio is known world-wide, first for that missed penalty in the 1994 World Cup and, his fantastic haircut.
The divine ponytail is an Italian former football player who would play as an attacking midfielder, he could also play as offensive roles.
Dion Dublin - The Shower Clearer
Dion Dublin, born 22 April 1969, is an English television presenter and a former professional footballer.
"Big? It isn't big. It's magnificent! I've seen some whoppers in my time, but Dion's is something else," his verdict on Dion Dublin's lunchbox, according to the then Coventry City chairman Bryan Richardson, in 1994.
You ask why? Fergusen once said:
The television presenter, the former English football player is also identified by "The Shower Clearer"
Andoni Goikoetxea - The Butcher of Bilbao
Andoni Goikoetxea Olaskoaga, born 23 May 1956, Goiko for short, is a Spanish football manager and former player, who played as a center back.
You might know the challenge that happened between Antonio Goikoetxea and Argentinian famous soccer player, Maradona. His nickname comes from 1983 when he broke Maradona's ankle.
Fitz Hall - One Size
Fitz Benjamin Hall, born 20 December 1980, is an English former professional footballer and current football agent. He played as a defender in his professional career, and as a striker in amateur football.
Obviously, one size fits Hall!
He is also a big one like Papa Bouba Diop "The Wardrobe" with 1.92 cm height and 98 kg weight. Hall is an English former footballer who played as a professional defender and, an amateur striker.
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Luis Suarez - El Pistolero
The popular soccer player, Luis Suarez, has a legendary nickname, actually 2 nicknames.
Many say Suarez got his more popular nickname, El Pistolero, for his reputation of biting.
One of Luis Suarez's nicknames is "El Pistolero", which means "The Gunfighter" and the other is "El Conejo" - "The Rabbit", for his cute teeth shape.
Some other nicknames of the Uruguayan soccer star, Luis Suarez, include:
· The Hungry Hungry Hippo
· Great Bitten
· Caught Masticating
· Chomp and Circumstance
· Hannibal the Cannibal
· Fang Chung
· Gladys Bite and the Pips
· Baron Von Munchausen
· Chewy Lewis and the News
Sergio Aguero – Kun
Sergio Leonel Agüero del Castillo, born 2 June 1988, colloquially known as Kun Agüero, is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a striker for Premier League club Manchester City and the Argentine national team.
You might want to know that his grandparents gave him this cute nickname.
The Manchester City player, our beloved Sergio Aguero - or maybe we should call him "Kun Agüero"- is popular for this nickname after a Japanese cartoon character.
Givanildo Vieira De Souza – Hulk
Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, born 25 July 1986, known as Hulk, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Shanghai SIPG as a forward, though he can also operate as a winger.
We all know Hulk could destroy buildings, but this one damages your defensive wall.
A former Brazil coach had a simple answer when asked about what striker Hulk adds to the squad: "Strength."
Eric Cantona – The King
Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona, born 24 May 1966, is a French actor, director, producer, and former professional footballer.
Cantona played for Auxerre, Martigues, Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nîmes, and Leeds United before ending his career at Manchester United, where he won four Premier League titles in five years and two League and FA Cup Doubles.
Man United fans gave Cantona this nickname because let’s face it; the guy was the king on the pitch. He remains one of Man United’s greatest players ever.
Fernando Torres – El Nino
Fernando José Torres Sanz, born 20 March 1984, is a Spanish former professional footballer who played as a striker.
Torres started playing football as a 16-year-old teenager in Atletico Madrid. So everybody knew him a kid and they started calling him "El Nino" - "The Kid". Juan Mata once said that they would call him El Nino because we didn't know his name.
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David Beckham – Golden Balls, Spice Boy, Becks
David Robert Joseph Beckham OBE, born 2 May 1975, is an English former professional footballer, the current president & co-owner of Inter Miami CF and co-owner of Salford City.
Given the spotlight that Beckham has had as a player, and being married to Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham, make Beckham’s nicknames quite reasonable.
Zinedine Yazid Zidane, born 23 June 1972, popularly known as Zizou, is a French former professional football player who played as an attacking midfielder. He is the current manager of La Liga club Real Madrid and is one of the most successful managers in the world.
He played as an attacking midfielder for the France national team, Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus, and Real Madrid.
His former coach at Bordeaux, Rolland Courbis, revealed the origin of his popular nickname.
Zidane joined Bordeaux from AS Cannes in the early 90s, and the then coach of Bordeaux was Rolland Courbis.
Courbis was eager to get an affectionate nickname for Zidane.
“We signed Zizou, who was at that time Known as Zinedine Zidane, with the surname of Yazid. I found every syllable of his name disturbing to the ears. In the first training sessions I was calling him Ziz.
And then in an exchange of passes, I heard Jean-François Daniel call him Zizou. Paf, that sounded perfect to my ears! I told myself that’s his nickname. I found that more affectionate than Yazid or Zinedine (…) I think everyone must have realized that it was nice for us to nickname him Zizou.
Again he loved it himself. I did not know that the nickname will stick with him,” Rolland Courbis told RMC.”
Diego Maradona – El Pibe de Oro (The Golden Boy), Hand of God
Diego Armando Maradona, born 30 October 1960, is an Argentine football manager and retired professional footballer. He is currently the coach of Argentine Primera División club Gimnasia de La Plata.
Maradona earned this nickname because of his brilliant wizardry on the field, and the impact he made for Argentina.
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Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greats of modern football and is lovingly given many nicknames by his fans. As he played in England (Manchester United), Spain (Real Madrid), and now Italy (Juventus), he got nicknames in all the languages. Some of Ronaldo’s nicknames are given below.
· Rocket Ronaldo
· El Comandante (after he became the captain of his country - Portugal)
· O Robo (The Robot because he plays so stiffly.)
CR7 is one of the most recognizable footballer's nickname in the world of sport, but where does it come from and what does it mean?
The Juventus attacker has been known as CR7 since his breakthrough at Manchester United and he has crafted an entire global brand around the nickname.
The nickname CR7 is a simple combination of Ronaldo's initials and his favored number: Cristiano Ronaldo plus the number 7.
Having worn the number 28 during his time at Sporting Lisbon, Ronaldo was handed the famous number 7 shirt when he arrived at Manchester United, with Alex Ferguson convincing his new protege to tread in the footsteps of stars such as David Beckham, George Best, and Eric Cantona.
He later inherited the number 7 at the international level too, swapping the number 17 for the shirt that had traditionally been worn by Luis Figo, and since then, he has worn the number at every club he has been to.
However, Ronaldo was forced to wear the number 9 jersey when he first arrived at Real Madrid in 2009, owing to the fact that club legend Raul was still the team's number 7.
As mentioned, CR7 is not just a nickname of Cristiano Ronaldo, it has become the defining image of his global empire, which includes a variety of products spanning different industries.
Ronaldo has launched a fragrance range called 'CR7 Cristiano Ronaldo' and he has also branched out into fashion, opening clothes boutiques. The CR7 underwear range has been particularly popular.
In 2013, a museum was opened in his hometown of Funchal in Madeira and it is called Museu CR7.
Amazingly, too, the CR7 brand literally has an out-of-this-world appeal following the decision to name a galaxy after the player in 2015.
The galaxy known as Cosmos Redshift 7 or Galaxy CR7 was inspired directly by Ronaldo.
Former Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has been known in Spain as ‘El Bicho’ since Spanish journalist Manolo Lama coined the term during a radio commentary early in his time in La Liga.
Lama himself has explained that Ronaldo “frightened and devoured” opposition defenders on his way to gobbling up 311 La Liga goals during nine years at the Santiago Bernabeu.
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Lionel Messi – La Pulga
Everyone knows Lionel Messi, but do you know why one of the most talented soccer players’ nickname is "La Pulga"?
In Argentina's native language, it means "The atomic Flea" as his small figure would take the ball at a glance and change the whole game.
Messi is little and harasses defenders so easily. He never goes away and gets under your skin. So, Messi’s nickname fits!
Messi’s growth problems when he was younger are well known; Barcelona provided the treatment when he moved from Argentina to join the La Liga club at the age of just 13.
Those issues earned him the nickname ‘La Pulga’ from a very early age, but that hasn’t stopped the current Blaugrana captain from leaping an all-time record of 704 career goals.
At the age of eleven, Messi was diagnosed with a serious growth-hormone problem. He needed expensive hospital treatment which his family simply couldn’t afford.
His condition meant he was far smaller than anyone else his age, and even today he is still only 1.69 meters (5′7″) tall. But being smaller he is also more agile. He learned to play with the ball on the ground, as that’s where it feels most comfortable.
Messi is without a doubt the best dribbler in the game. He is short which means a lower center of mass which he uses to his own advantages. As a result he is able to dribble past number of defenders at the same time.
Therefore, the nickname of Messi was because of his playing style and built. Messi is small, fast and looks like he’s bouncing off his opponents just like a flea. When he is taking on a group of defenders, it looks like he’s going to lose possession of the ball but he always finds a solution with a burst of speed or a pass, even in the smallest of places.
An Argentinian journalist gave Messi’s nickname in 2005, after he scored a series of goals for FC Barcelona in LaLiga.
But the Argentinian journalist didn’t actually invent it. Whether the journalist knew it or not, he was using a nickname Messi’s family already had for him. From a young age, Messi was always the smallest player in his team. He was only 3 foot 6 when he was 9.
At 11, he had the height of a 9 year old child. This height deficit earned him the nickname El Nano or the dwarf in English. Small in size but big in talent.
The more little Leo grew, the explosive his style became. So, his two older brothers gave him the nickname Pulguita or little flea in English. It’s a nickname the Argentinian star can’t shake.
As his goal count piled up, his nickname has changed from little flea to flea. The Spanish press tried to find an alternative in 2017.
After a superb performance against Eibar, Messi was nicknamed Herculeo, a word combing his name and the demi God from the Greek Mythology. But this nickname of Messi didn’t stick like La Pulga.
At FC Barcelona, he is celebrated like no one else. In the city, in the stadium, on the papers, Messi is a superstar.
Even after the departure of Guardiola, Xavi, and Iniesta, he has transformed his game and the Catalan giants simultaneously. Assists, strategy, free kicks, goals, name it and he does it all.
It was rumored that CR7 has a rude nickname for Messi: ‘motherf----r’, and some Real Madrid players confirmed this.
A long-running feud between the pair seemed to have reached its height when Ronaldo referred to Messi as ‘motherf----r’ and after that the Argentinian called him ‘CR Poo-Brains.’
A professor ironically stated, "It is a privilege to watch these two geniuses push one another to ever-greater heights of profanity, and an example to the next generation of what you can achieve with creativity and hard work.”
The article was a review of the footballers' nicknames to delve into the story behind them.