World Football

Ranking the 20 Best Nicknames in World Football

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2014

Ranking the 20 Best Nicknames in World Football

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    Alastair Grant

    Most of the time, nicknames in sport are pretty unimaginative and formulaic—Lampsie, Scholesy and Giggsy didn't take an awful lot of thought. For this reason, we must celebrate the instances when nicknames are creative, funny or downright bizarre. 

    Using the highly empirical ranking system of which make me chuckle the most, here are the 20 best nicknames in world football. I'm sure to have missed out a few, so leave your suggestions in the comments... 

20. Neil 'Razor' Ruddock

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Neil Ruddock wasn't a man to be messed with. The former West Ham and Liverpool centre-back was known for tough tackles and a no-nonsense attitude, earning him the nickname "Razor" after Canadian boxer Donovan "Razor" Ruddock.

    In 2000, Ruddock was fined a whopping £100 by the FA for wearing his nickname on his shirt rather than his actual surname. These days, of course, the likes of Chicharito (more on him later) are escaping such heavy punishments. I blame Jordi Cruyff. 

19. Papa Bouba 'The Wardrobe' Diop

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    When he played for the London Monarchs, American Football player William Perry was known as "The Fridge" due to his massive weight and size.

    Papa Bouba Diop was given the nickname "The Wardrobe" while at Fulham for similar reasons. It doesn't sound quite as imposing as "The Fridge," but perhaps a little more mobile. 

18. Brian 'Choccy' McClair

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    David Cannon/Getty Images

    Manchester United striker Brian McClair didn't earn the nickname "Choccy" because of his dietary habits, but because his surname sounded a bit like the word "eclair."  

    "Eclair" comes from the French for "flash of lightning," which seems somewhat ironic considering the Scotsman's lack of pace. 

17. Darren 'Sicknote' Anderton

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Darren Anderton's 18-year career should have been defined by success and a consistent place in the England team, but he was dogged by injuries.

    Groin strains and achilles tendons often kept him out of action for months at a time and he featured in just 39 Premier League games between 1995 and 1998.

    Due to his constant niggles, he earned the moniker "Sicknote."

    The BBC summed up his injury issues with this glib statement in a 2001 feature: "If Darren Anderton was a racehorse, he would have been put out to grass by now."

16. Dennis 'The Non-Flying Dutchman' Bergkamp

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    Anonymous

    Dennis Bergkamp—pictured above casually surfing the world wide web with Arsene Wenger—was one of the greatest strikers ever to grace the Premier League and one of the key proponents of Arsenal's success around the millennium. 

    Whenever Arsenal had a European game on the continent, however, the legendary forward would have to travel by road and rail, as he had developed an aversion to flying after the 1994 World Cup. 

    Thanks to his refusal to get in a plane, Arsenal fans jokingly dubbed him "The Non-Flying Dutchman."

     

15. Javier 'Chicharito/Baby Killer' Hernandez

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    Scott Heppell

    Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez has the name "Chicharito" ("Little Pea") printed on his shirt due to his father, who was known as "Chicharo" ("Pea").

    This isn't the diminutive Mexcican's only nickname, though. In 2010, he was referred to by Mexican sports newspaper Record as "Baby Killer."

    It's not clear whether this means he murders infants or if he is a metaphorical murderer on the field who looks young. If we had to guess, we'd probably go with the latter.   

     

14. Edmundo 'The Animal'

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    FABRIZIO GIOVANNOZZI

    Vasco da Gama legend Edmundo wasn't exactly the kind of chap who enjoyed a quiet night in with a good book and a cup of cocoa.

    The man who played for 17 clubs in 18 years and who regularly received his marching orders was utterly reckless on and off the field.

    In addition to narrowly escaping a prison term for drink driving during an accident that killed three of his passengers, he came under fire from animal welfare groups in 1999 when he hired a chimpanzee for his son's birthday party and got it drunk on beer and whisky. 

    Hence, the fiery Brazilian's nickname "The Animal" was quite appropriate. 

13. Sandro 'The Beast' Raniere

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    There are no two ways about it: Sandro is as mad as a box of frogs.

    The Tottenham midfielder's behaviour is usually somewhere between hilarious and terrifying: He practises martial arts in the dressing room, messes around at photo shoots and breaks out his guitar whenever possible. 

    Thanks to his tenacious performances on the field, Sandro is known as "Beast" among the White Hart Lane faithful. He likes the name so much that he often uses it to refer to himself in the third person, a la Zlatan. 

12. Christian 'El Hobbit' Bermudez

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Mexican forward Christian Bermudez is known colloquially as "The Hobbit."

    This isn't because of his love of Tolkien or his pointy ears, nor does "Hobbit" translate to "really good footballer" in Spanish.

    It's because he's only 5'3" tall, which actually makes his nickname a little bit cruel. 

11. Ray 'The Romford Pele' Parlour

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    JOERG SARBACH

    Ray Parlour was a fan favourite at Arsenal, who earned three Premier League titles and four FA Cups during his 12-year tenure.

    Parlour was known for his hard-working but distinctly unglamorous approach to play. Therefore, it was with a fairly large dollop of irony that the Essex boy was dubbed "The Romford Pele." 

10. Per 'BFG' Mertesacker

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    Alastair Grant

    Arsenal fans may have summoned their powers of irony for Ray Parlour's nickname, but there was no such acerbity when they gave Per Mertesacker his one. 

    The 6'6" German's Roald Dahl-influenced moniker is the "Big F*****g German." This is because he is pretty big and very German.

    Like Ronseal, this one does exactly what it says on the tin. 

9. Efan 'Chief' Ekoku

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    OWEN HUMPHREYS

    Former Norwich and Wimbledon striker Efan Ekoku was known as "Chief" during his '90s heyday.

    This wasn't because he had a particularly commanding presence on the field—it was due to the fact that Nigerian football officials discovered he was the long-lost son of a Nigerian tribal chief. 

    So, Ekoku was effectively football royalty. All hail to the Chief! 

8. Andoni 'The Butcher of Bilbao' Goikoetxea

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    Led by foul-mouthed manager Javier Clemente, Athletic Bilbao in the 1980s were a slightly more physical equivalent of the Wimbledon team from the early '90s. Essentially, you wouldn't want to bump into any of them in a dark alleyway.

    Centre-back Andoni Goikoetxea might have been the toughest of them all, hence his nickname "The Butcher of Bilbao."

    The no-nonsense Basque's most famous moment of anger came in a tie against Barcelona in September 1983, when he scythed down Diego Maradona from behind, severely injuring his ankle tendons. It was rumoured that he kept the boots he used in that match in a glass case as a reminder of his achievement. 

    In a separate match against Barca, Goikoetxea clattered into Bernd Schuster, giving the German an injury to his right knee that he never fully recovered from. 

7. Nigel 'The Lawnmower' De Jong

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    As anyone who watched the 2010 World Cup Final will know, Nigel De Jong can be a little overzealous with his challenges. 

    Thanks to the kind of combative style that broke Stuart Holden's leg, the Dutchman is known by the nicknames "The Lawnmower" and "The Terrier." 

     

     

6. Nicolas 'The Incredible Sulk' Anelka

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    Warren Little/Getty Images

    Nicolas Anelka is almost certainly one of the most disagreeable people in football history. The Frenchman has played for no less than 12 different clubs, leaving most of them under some kind of controversy.

    He fell out with managers at Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, he was the source of France's debacle at the 2010 World Cup and he is generally renowned for never letting professionalism stand in the way of a good strop.

    As such, Anelka has truly earned the comic-book pun "The Incredible Sulk." 

5. Mesut 'Avatar Eyes' Ozil

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    If you have ever had the pleasure of listening to BeIN Sports commentator Ray Hudson call a game, you will know he is a little bit cheeky and really quite barmy.

    The affable Geordie is known for his excitement, his zany metaphors and his hilarious nicknames for players.

    Whenever Mesut Ozil touches the ball in a game he is covering, he will refer to him as "Ol' Avatar Eyes," thanks to the way the German midfielder's bulging peepers resemble those of the Na'vi tribe in James Cameron's film. 

4. Neil 'Dissa' Pointon

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Neil Pointon (pictured left) played as a full-back for the likes of Everton, Oldham and Manchester City through the '80s and '90s. 

    Pointon was a pretty decent defender who picked up a league-winner's medal at Everton and enjoyed a 20-year career, but that didn't stop him getting the nickname "Dissa."

    The name can surely be attributed to quality wordplay, rather than a reflection of his abilities. 

3. David 'Wash' Ngog

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    Steve Bardens/Getty Images

    When one pronounces David N'Gog's surname in the correct French manner, it sounds like "N'Go." It didn't take long for someone to put the word "Wash" before it. 

    In recent months, the Swansea striker has actually sported enough hair to warrant the use of the product for which he is named, having previously sported a shaved head for most of his career. 

2. Duncan 'Disorderly' Ferguson

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    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Thanks to his abrasive attitude and physical style of play, Duncan Ferguson didn't win many friends during his career, but he did get himself into plenty of trouble on the field and during his frequent nights out on the town.

    The Scottish striker earned nine red cards in his 16-year career and four separate assault charges. Two were for scuffles outside taxi ranks (which involved headbutting a policeman and kicking a supporter on crutches), one was for fighting with a fisherman in a pub and the most famous was for headbutting Raith Rovers defender John McStay while playing for Rangers in 1994. For the latter, Ferguson was treated to a three-month prison sentence.

    For his long rap sheet of bad behaviour, the former Everton hitman earned the tabloid-friendly nickname "Duncan Disorderly." 

1. 'One Size' Fitz Hall

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    Tim Keeton/Getty Images

    Journeyman defender Fitz Hall has the greatest nickname in football history: "One size."

    Say it quickly before his name and you will agree that it cannot be beaten. He even has his own chant

    The Oldham supporters who came up with this one deserve our respect and gratitude. 

     

    Follow me on Twitter @RyanJayBailey

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