Footballers’ Nicknames: 15 of the Weirdest & Most Wonderful Monikers in the Beautiful Game

Football is famous for its nicknames. Cristiano Ronaldo is CR7, Adriano is L’imperatore, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira will forever be Ronaldinho. And even then we have some more inventive names, such as Givanildo Vieira de Souza, simply known as Hulk.

Some nicknames can be self-appointed, or the can be bestowed upon a player by their siblings, managers or supporters. A lot of footballers probably hate them. And the problem with nicknames is, that whether you like them or not, they stick. 

Here’s a look at some of the weird and wonderful nicknames from throughout football history.


Matt Doherty – Doherto Carlos

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The ?Wolves full-back won the hearts of Fantasy Premier League managers up and down the country last season, with some stellar performances for the newly-promoted side. His marauding runs and attacking prowess from the full-back position have led to him earning a nickname to be proud of. 

Matt Doherty

Doherto Carlos. Following in the footsteps of Real Madrid and Brazil defender Robert Carlos, who was known for his attacking ability rather than his defensive stability. Doherty admitted in an interview that he used to practice free-kicks in the fashion for which his namesake became renowned, and now he goes into his second Premier League season carrying the same title. 

Bravo Doherto.


Fitz Hall – One Size 

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One size Fitz Hall. The former Watford and Crystal Palace defender didn’t earn his nickname through his impressive defensive skills, however as far as nicknames go, it’s certainly an impressive one. 

Anthony Modeste,Fitz Hall

In the world of football, it’s probably one of the wittier nicknames, and it has written Fitz into the Hall of Fame for football’s funniest names. 


Roberto Baggio – The Divine Ponytail

The Italian’s seem to give their stars creative and majestic nicknames, when compared to ?Wayne ‘Wazza’ Rooney or ?Harry ‘Slabhead’ Maguire. Baggio was the jewel in the Italian side’s crown in their 1994 World Cup campaign, as Gli Azzurri lost on penalties to Brazil in the final. 

Roberto Baggio,Andoni Zubizarreta

Baggio was iconic for his playing style and also his appearance, his ponytail bouncing and dancing around bamboozled defenders. The Italian will be remembered as one of the best footballers in history, and his ponytail will go down in history bouncing behind him. 


Duncan Ferguson – Duncan Disorderly 

For those who aren’t aware, Duncan Ferguson is a very scary man. The big Scotsman terrorised Premier League defences for 12 years and planted as many black eyes as he did goals during his time in England.

Duncan Ferguson and Trond Anderson

Whilst playing in Scotland, the striker headbutted an opponent and was subsequently jailed, and his constant brushes with the law on and off the field led to his nickname ‘Duncan Disorderly’.

A solid name, for a solid bloke. 


Antonio Cassano – Peter Pan

Another of football’s more controversial characters, Antonio Cassano was as talented as he was troubled. The charismatic striker’s career was filled with off-field scandals, but he possessed a child-like zest for life which earned him the nickname Peter Pan. Well, plus and the fact that he could never accept his own retirement, and constantly attempted short-lived comebacks but without much success. 

'Partita Del Cuore' Charity Match

Although Cassano never wanted to grow up, his lavish lifestyle caught up with him, and the hot-headed Italian never lived up to the promise he had shown in his early years in Italy. 


Massimo Taibi – The Blind Venetian 

Massimo Taibi arrived at Old Trafford with great expectations, but his dream ?Manchester United debut victory over ?Liverpool was quickly forgotten, and his Premier League career soon became a nightmare. 

Massimo Taibi

After a string of errors over the coming matches, he was comically labelled ‘The Blind Venetian’ by one newspaper. Taibi completed four games for Ferguson’s side, before he returned to Italy to play out the rest of his career, away from the British press.


Andoni Goikoetxea – The Butcher of Bilbao

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Andoni Goikoetxea was just about as tough as they come in football. The bruising centre-back spent the majority of his playing career at Athletic Bilbao, and he earned himself his gruesome nickname following one of the most infamous tackles in football history. 


The excruciating assault came in a league match against ?Barcelona, in which he delivered a crunching tackle from behind on footballing icon Diego Maradona, breaking the Argentine’s ankle in the process. To add insult to injury, he incited a mass brawl during the 1984 Spanish Cup final against the Blaugrana and received an initial 18 game ban for kicking Maradona in the chest. 

Do not mess with The Butcher. 


Papa Bouba Diop – The Wardrobe 

The man-mountain was a Premier League regular for ?Fulham and Portsmouth, and it was at the Cottage that he was christened ‘The Wardrobe’. The Senegalese midfielder dominated proceedings in the middle of the park and it was his enormous physique which landed him this nickname. 

Fulham's English midfielder Danny Murphy

Diop was a solid midfielder and a dominant presence in the changing rooms, and the Wardrobe had no fears in giving his teammates a severe dressing-down. 


Chris Smalling – Mike 

Whilst Louis Van Gaal was unable to light up Old Trafford with his own sexy style of football, he did provide some great moments off the field. His press conferences were always a must-watch, and whether he was bursting into song, calling out journalists or shouting ‘Louis van Gaal’s army!’ over and over again, there was always something worth turning into a GIF waiting around the corner. 


During a pre-season tour, Van Gaal accidentally referred to Chris Smalling as Mike, and it didn’t take long for Twitter and the rest of the world to jump on this mishap. Whilst something so minor can happen daily in the real world, it rarely gets forgotten in the football bubble. Sorry Chris, but you’re going to be Mike Smalling for the rest of your life. 


German Burgos – Mono (Ape) 

Another footballer who took no prisoners was Argentine German Burgos. The goalkeeper is better known as ‘Mono’ due to his ape-like appearance.

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The now-?Atletico Madrid assistant manager is a classic football hard-man, and during his time in Spain he was banned for 11 matches following an on-field assault of an opposition player. Simeone’s sidekick is as tough as the Atleti boss, currently forming the hardest managerial partnership in world football. 


Vincenzo Montella – L’Aeroplanino (The Little Aeroplane) 

Trademark celebrations are an important part of football nowadays. ?Ronaldo has his jumpy-swirly-shouty celebration, ?Bale has his love-heart gesture and we all remember Shefki Kuqi’s belly-flop which just looked painful. 


Vincenzo Montella was a diminutive Italian winger who ?nailed a celebration early in his career, out-stretching his arms and running around miming an aeroplane. It may not seem too cool, but he pulled it off pretty well and, l’Aeroplanino regularly took flight during Roma’s title-winning campaign in 2001. 


Nicolas Anelka – Le Sulk

Nicolas Anelka was one of the most talented strikers of his generation, but the fact he played for 12 different professional clubs suggests that the Frenchman came with some baggage. He suffered a difficult time at ?Arsenal, and the fans quickly turned against him as a result of a perceived lack of effort and enthusiasm for the club. 

Boro v Arsenal Nicolas Anelka

Le Sulk duly lived up to his new-found name and demanded to leave the Gunners, and bagged himself a move to ?Real Madrid, which wouldn’t last long either. A fitting nickname for a wonderful but troubled striker. 


Dion Dublin – The Shower Clearer

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Dublin made a name for himself as a lethal weapon in front of goal, but it was another weapon which impressed boss Sir Alex Ferguson. The striker’s manhood was a hot topic for the Man Utd manager, and it astonished him to apparently utter the iconic words…

Dion Dublin of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the equalising goal with team-mate Olof Mellberg

“Big? It isn’t big. It’s magnificent! I’ve seen some whoppers in my time, but Dion’s is something else.”  

A honourary mention also goes to Claude Makelele, who had the nickname ‘The Tripod’, thrust upon him. 


Ferenc Puskas – The Galloping Major

Puskas was one of football’s very first icons, as he and his Hungary side wrote themselves into the sport’s history with some incredible displays, most notably a 7-1 thrashing of a talented England side in 1954. Puskas was a superb player, but he didn’t gain his nickname ‘The Galloping Major’ ?through his sporting exploits. 

Puskas’ side Kispest was taken over by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, and all players were given military names. 


Borja Iglesias – The Panda 

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New Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias is known as ‘The Panda’, but it’s not because of his ability to bamboo-zle defenders. 

Borja is a big fan of hip-hop music, and he discovered the song ‘Panda’ by Desiigner, which he fell in love with. His former Celta Vigo side became known as ‘The Panda Team’, and some of the players even decided to have pandas tattooed on themselves. 

Facundo Ferreyra,Borja Iglesias

Iglesias embodies that team spirit and he has carried the nickname ‘The Panda’ for the rest of his career. Whenever he scores goals, he creates absolute panda-monium in the stands. 

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Mauro Icardi Holding Out for Juventus Despite Roma & Monaco Interest

Inter striker Mauro Icardi reportedly only has eyes for Juventus, despite receiving interest from both Roma and Monaco.

The outcast Argentine striker has been shopped around all summer by the Nerazzurri, with the club hoping he could be used as a makeweight in the deal for Romelu Lukaku. Ultimately, Antonio Conte and co relented, stumping up the €80m fee outright, and handing the Belgian Icardi’s number nine shirt. 

Mauro Emanuel Icardi

If it wasn’t clear already, it is now – Inter don’t want Icardi at the club. The good news is that, according to various reports from including Gianluca Di Marzio, both Roma and Monaco are interested in taking him off their hands before Italy’s 23 August transfer deadline. 

La Lupa have been chasing Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain throughout this window, but his rejections have been forthright, and they have thus turned their attention to the beleaguered Argentine.

It is understood they have now overtaken Napoli in the running for Icardi, after spending all of Monday in negotiations, with a swap deal involving Edin Dzeko on the table, as well as an €8m-a-year pay package in the capital. With Inter still holding out for between €55m and €60m, even with Dzeko in the deal, the Romans would still likely have to cough up something close to €40m.


As for Monaco, they have similarly made a formal approach for the forward, despite the ‘imminent’ signing of Wissam Ben Yedder from Sevilla. Meanwhile, Napoli’s efforts have been curtailed by their pursuit of Hirving Lozano, and they would likely need to get rid of Arkadiusz Milik before swooping for ?Icardi.

The bad news for Inter is that, according to Sportitalia, the erstwhile number nine only has eyes for Juve as it stands, making all that interest futile. Clearly, though, there is more to come in this saga.

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Ivan Perisic Joins Bayern Munich on Loan With Option to Buy

Bayern Munich have confirmed the signing of Inter winger Ivan Perisic on loan, with an option to sign him permanently next summer.

The Bundesliga giants had been on the lookout for new wingers following the departures of both Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, and have pursued a number of potential signings this summer.

?Perisic recently became an option for ?Bayern, and the club took to their ?official website to confirm they have signed the 30-year-old on a one-year loan deal.

?On his move, Perisic said: “I’m very glad to be back in Germany. FC Bayern are one of the biggest clubs in Europe. We want to go on the attack, not only in the ?Bundesliga and the DFB Cup, but also in the ?Champions League.”

Earlier in his career, Perisic spent several seasons with both Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg, and his knowledge of the Bundesliga was thought to be key to Bayern’s decision to sign him.

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic added: “Ivan will help us from the start with his extensive experience at a top international level. He has good technique and he’s flexible in attack. I’m sure Ivan will settle in quickly as he knows both the Bundesliga and our coach Niko Kovac well.” 

The Croatian lost his place at ?Inter following the arrival of Antonio Conte, who tried to play Perisic as a striker during pre-season. However, with ?Romelu Lukaku heading to San Siro this summer, it soon became clear that there was no longer a place for Perisic at Inter.

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He will bring some much-needed depth to Bayern, who have desperately tried to sign new wingers in recent months. 

Having failed in bids for both ?Chelsea‘s Callum Hudson-Odoi and ?Manchester City‘s Leroy Sane, they have turned to Perisic and quickly completed a deal for the Croatian international.

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Wesley Sneijder: Remembering the Sniper’s Greatest Hits as He Announces Retirement at 35

?On Monday, the man many consider to be the most underrated player of his (or perhaps any) generation announced his retirement from football, calling time on a shimmering 17-year career which saw him win a league title in four different European countries. 

While some ostentatiously welcome the fanfare and publicity that comes with such an announcement, calling press conferences and milking their final moment in the sun for all it’s worth, ?Sneijder casually dropped his bombshell into an interview about the director’s box he purchased at his boyhood club Utrecht.

His big outro was one which complements the personality and subtle style of play that endeared him to so many over the years. He never wanted to be the centre of attention. He wanted to perform to the best of his ability, and he wanted to win. 

And if those were indeed the objectives he set out for himself as a promising youth prospect at Ajax in the early 2000s, then he can look back today from the comfort of his Dutch home on a job well done. 

From day one, he learned that standing out from the crowd was never going to be easy. Coming into an Ajax team that contained Rafael van der Vaart and Zlatan Ibrahimovic among a host of other recognisable stars one December, his job was initially to make up the numbers. By April, however, he was established in his own right, starting a Champions League quarter final and finishing the season with five goals in 17 appearances.

A few years ahead of the number ten trend that swept the continent in the later 2000s and into the 2010s, it was clear from the offset that Sneijder had the attributes and intelligence to become a truly world-class attacking midfielder.  


As this was recognised by Ajax boss Ronald Koeman, frequently using the teenager in advanced central positions, his contributions grew season on season, and by the time he left in 2007 – with 180 appearances, 58 goals and an Eredivisie title to show for his efforts – he was ready to kick on and realise that promise at one of the world’s biggest clubs. 

His £25m move to ?Real Madrid didn’t quite go to plan, however, as injuries, management changes and a revolving door approach to recruitment saw him ousted to make room for the Galacticos of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo two years later. Still, he had furthered his reputation somewhat during this time, averaging a goal every six games for Real, and managing a quarter-final showing at Euro 2008 that saw him named in the team of the tournament. 

As much as he had established himself as a joy to watch on the pitch by now, at 25, it was his move to ?Internazionale that would define the legacy he would leave behind ten years later. 

Jose Mourinho had laid the defensive foundations for a side that could build on their Serie A success and dominate in Europe, with the central defensive pairing of Lucio and Walter Samuel, flanked by Chivu and Maicon and protected by any two of Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso and Dejan Stankovic. 

In order for his side to truly realise its potential, however, he needed an elite attacking pivot as the final piece in his trademark counter-attacking jigsaw. He needed a player with a low centre of gravity, an eye for the right pass, and the technical ability to create goals and unlock the tightest of defences.

Lo and behold, Wesley Sneijder was signed in 2009, and the campaign that followed is remembered as one of the greatest single seasons by any club in history. 

With Sneijder scoring eight goals and assisting a further 15 – the range of which earning him the affectionate nickname of ‘the Sniper’ – Mourinho’s Inter went on to win an unprecedented treble, culminating in a 2-0 Champions League final win over Bayern Munich,  with Sneijder laying on Diego Milito to score the opener. 

After a five goal showing at the following World Cup, Sneijder was only able to finish fourth in the Ballon d’Or standings that year, something that even third-placed Xavi admitted was a travesty – although Sneijder himself refused to be bitter. 

He would never quite rediscover the heights of his debut season, with injuries gradually gnawing away during the years that would follow, but by the time he left for the relative obscurity of Galatasaray in 2013, he had directly contributed to 57 goals in 116 appearances for Inter and won five major trophies. In six years, they are yet to replace him. 

He took the best of his game to Turkey, winning two more league titles with Galatasaray, before winding things down in a spell with Nice and then in Qatar with Al-Gharafa. 


Now he calls it a day, and while some may point to injuries as the reason he couldn’t sustain a career at the top of his game, his accomplishments, performances and goals while at the top of the mountain (particularly in 2010 mean that there is a generation of football fans to whom just his name brings a nostalgic smile. 

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Wesley Sneijder: Former Real Madrid & Inter Star Retires From Football Aged 35

?Former Netherlands international and Champions League winner Wesley Sneijder has retired from professional football at the age of 35.

The midfielder’s contract with Qatari side Al-Gharafa expired in July and he has decided not to pursue a new club, revealing the decision as he starts a new project with Eredivisie club Utrecht in his homeland.

Sneijder came through Ajax’s fabled academy in the early noughties, making 180 appearances for the club, while winning the 2004 Eredivisie and two KNVB Cups before moving to ?Real Madrid.

While he also won La Liga in 2008 during his two-year spell with Los Blancos, he is best remembered for his time at ?Internazionale, where he was a key player in Jose Mourinho’s treble winners of 2010.

As well as lifting the Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia that year, Sneijder also finished as a runner-up in the World Cup in South Africa with the Netherlands and was awarded the Silver Ball (for the tournament’s second-best player).

Later in his career he also won a two Super Lig titles with Galatasaray in Turkey, taking his tally of league titles to five in four countries, and featured for Nice and Al-Gharafa.

Wesley Sneijder

With 133 caps, Sneijder is also his country’s most capped player of all time.

Upon his retirement from playing, the former playmaker has signed a contract with his local team Utrecht to be part of their ‘business club’ and will watch the team play from a private box this season.

“My love for the city of Utrecht is great and I have a very good relationship with Frans van Seumeren [Utrecht owner]. We have always talked about getting together and now we have put the deed to the word. I look forward to a great season in Stadium Galgenwaard!” he told the club’s official website. 

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