Footballers. If it weren’t for them, we would have to turn to talking about politicians all the time and nobody wants that, right? Jokes aside, as much as criticise them or stay angry about their latest gaffe, there’s no denying that we feel an emotional attachment to players. Sometimes that attachment is positive and you scream their name while they pull your team out of a sure catastrophe, and sometimes it is negative and you find yourself condemning their failure and threatening their entire family-line, up to the next 2 generations. But whether it’s joy or anger you feel, one of the first reactions to any stunt is bound to be name-calling.
Nicknaming players is probably among the top 10 things every fan loves, right along betting, imagining your tactics used to win the cup, and even hitting a UK mobile blackjack casino on your way to the game. Sometimes the nicknames are attached to praise a glorious career and sometimes they are there to make sure a catastrophe is never forgotten. Whatever the logic, nicknames are one of the best things about watching football.
So, if you are a fan of name-calling, here are the top 10 nicknames in football:
Gilles de Billde – “Bob” de Billde
Gilles de Billde earned one of the puniest nick-names in football history while on a loan to Aston villa. The nickname was simply given to jokingly remind people of one the most famous cartoon characters Bob the Builder. He is now retired and works as a football analyst on Belgian TV, but we doubt anyone remembers his brilliant nickname.
Carlton Cole – “Can’t Control”
Even though some still say it’s a bit harsh, Cole’s nickname is one of the most fitting nicknames on this list. West Ham fans will know him for his uninspiring time at the club, but his nickname was actually earned during his time on a loan at Aston villa. When you take a look at his stats, it all makes sense.
Nicolas Anelka – “Le (Incredible) Sulk”
Most know Anelka for his later career performances for a number of Premier League teams but his nickname was stuck on to him very early in his career while he was still 17 and playing in Arsenal. Due to his lack of enthusiasm and his desire to leave Arsenal, the fans named him “Le sulk” and the media soon picked up the name. His behavior ever since has only confirmed the moniker, and fans even started changing it to “Le Incredible Sulk”.
Stuart Pearce – “Psycho” Pearce
Aptly nicknamed, Stuart Pearce will mostly be remembered by his fans as being a ruthless and aggressive player who often inspired fear in his opponents. His nickname was earned during his time with Nottingham Forrest and the National team, and anyone looking back to the matches will see it as well-fitting. However, looking at his last name, it seems that they missed a chance for a good rhyme, as he could’ve easily been called “Pearce the Fierce” as well. And even though he finally calmed down after moving to management, his real and immense spirit will be always remembered.
Cesar Azpilicueta – “Dave”
Sure, you can pronounce his first name but can you say his surname on your first try? Well, don’t beat yourself up as neither could Chelsea fans – thus his nickname. Even though it’s funny to call someone with such an epic name “Dave”, fans came up with the name only to simplify things and not for the sake of mocking. Cezar has even accepted this name proudly and is often called like that during training.
Ray Parlour – “The Romford Pele”
Giving anyone a nickname with Pele in it, is bound to inspire admiration in people who don’t know the person, as Pele is still regarded as the best player in football history. However, this is not the case with Ray Parlour, whose nickname has a dose of irony attached to it instead of glory. They could’ve also called him “Ray the Gray” because he was just as diverse, but that wouldn’t be as chuckle-worthy as the original nickname.
Duncan Ferguson – “Duncan Disorderly”
Ah, Everton’s “Big Dunc”. If you’ve ever read the news during the 90s, Dunc Ferguson’s name must have popped somewhere among the headlines, seeing that he has been involved in more brawls than your local pub patron. And even though he has remained pretty calm during the 2000s, Duncan’s nickname stuck with fans ever since. They could have easily called him “Blackjack Duncan” as well, since he was such a fan on hitting.
Fitz Hall – “One size” Fitz Hall
This is one of the finest examples of nicknaming in football history. Fitz Hall is a 1.90m tall former goalkeeper who earned the nickname while playing for Oldham Athletic, and just looking at his imposing figure and full name you know that it fits perfectly.
Dennis Bergkamp – “The non-flying Dutchman”
A brilliant play on legend and the player’s personal phobias, Denis Bergkamp’s nickname will remain forever enshrined in football trivia as one of the funniest nicknames in history. Bergkamp was given the nickname when people found out that he had developed aviophobia, following a flying incident with the Dutch national team. Ever since, he’s been known as the Non-Flying Dutchman, a nickname so fitting that it remained as one of the most famous facts about the player.
David James – “Calamity James”
If you know the cartoon you can’t help but chuckle at the nickname. Most remember James for his blunders with the national team, but the truth is he earned his nickname well before he even started wearing the national colors. The name stuck after his unsuccessful time at Liverpool where he often made the most ridiculous of excuses for underperforming, like blaming his low stats on playing too many video games that affected his concentration. They should have called him “Jackpot” instead, because his saves were just as common.