Ganso, Pato and the 10 Best Animal Brazilian Footballer Names
The weird and wonderful world of Brazilian footballing names has been increasingly explored in recent years, and given the recent upturn in form of Ganso and Pato in tandem at Sao Paulo, the time has come to pay homage to the animals.
Throughout the history of Brazilian football, many prominent players have played under the names of animals, such as our aforementioned duo.
Who, then, makes our list of top 10 animal names in Brazilian football?
One of the most commonly used nicknames in Brazilian football is that of Alexandre Pato or "Alex the Duck."
Plenty of players in Brazil, as is to be expected, have drawn nicknames, but most do not evolve to form part of their common names; rather, they are alternatives for media consumption.
Others, such as Vasco icon Eduardo, are simply given nicknames due to their attitudes and behaviours. Claudio Pitbull (pictured) is another whose name perhaps gives more away about his personality than anything.
There is a Yuri Mamute—or "Yuri Mammoth," to English speakers—in current Brasileiro action, while Coelho ("Rabbit") is not only a common surname but also the nickname of the America-MG club.
Given that their local rivals Cruzeiro and Atletico-MG are nicknamed "The Fox" and "The Rooster," respectively, a pecking order can be established.
Then, we come to cartoon animals, such as Paysandu's Yago Pikachu, so called in honour of Pokemon's electric mouse.
Frankly, it is a shame there are not more such names floating around in Brazilian football's diverse and frequently wacky world.
10. Eduardo Ratinho
Now 26, Eduardo Correia Piller Filho, or Eduardo "Little Rat" Ratinho, was thought to be a star in the making when he burst through in the right-back position at Corinthians.
A move to CSKA Moscow failed to work out, however, and he is now plying his trade in state-level football in his homeland just half a decade later.
A number of players have used the nickname Ratinho or Rato over the years, often due to a physical resemblance or an ability to break free in tight spaces.
Flavio Caca-Rato is another story altogether, as explained by James Young of The Observer.
Now plying his trade with Al-Sadd, former Guangzhou Evergrande star Muriqui is playing under the name of a species of spider monkey if taken literally.
However, in this case, his nickname is a nod toward the Rio de Janeiro neighbourhood of the same name in which he grew up.
Voted the AFC Foreign Player of the Year in 2013, the Brazil under-20 international has forged a considerable career for himself in Asia.
One of the most common and well-known of Brazil's animal-related names is Sao Paulo's Paulo Henrique, commonly known as Ganso.
As for why he acquired such a name, FIFA.com says, "Paulo Henrique Ganso was named after a ganso (goose), thanks to the club’s kit-man always greeting the arrival at training of O Peixe's gangly and long-limbed U-20 players with the words, 'Here comes that bunch of geese.'"
Named for his previously slight build, long legs and incredible speed, Thiago Rodrigues da Silva is now unlikely to shake his Mosquito moniker for the rest of his career.
One of the top-rated young forwards in his homeland, he starred for his country at both under-15 and under-17 levels before recently winning the prestigious Toulon Tournament with the under-20 side.
Now beginning to earn games at senior level with Atletico Paranaense, the 18-year-old is expected to be irritating European defenders in the not so distant future.
If you were to choose an animal to play in goal, a spider may well be one of the first choices given its array of limbs, and that was clearly the thinking at Santos in opting for Mario Lucio Costa Duarte between the sticks.
His nickname, though, is a reference to former Russia goalkeeper Lev Yashin, who was christened the Black Spider following the 1958 World Cup.
Now first choice at leading Paulista club Santos, Aranha is one of the leading players of the current generation of animals in Serie A.
5. Emerson Leao
Legendary former Brazil goalkeeper Emerson Leao often lives up to his "Lion" status in his career as a coach.
He may not be universally successful in the role, but he is old-school in his methods and is not afraid of a confrontation or two with players or the media.
His roar appears to be worse than his bite when it comes to success in management, though.
4. Junior Urso
Now plying his trade in China with Shandong Luneng, former Coritiba midfielder Ocimar de Almeida Junior is better known by the moniker Junior Urso or "Junior Bear."
A combative box-to-box midfielder of considerable size, it is easy to see how he acquired the nickname that has now become his footballing name.
Even in China, fans have been quick on the uptake, with the player often referred to as Xiao Xiong, or "Little Bear," on social media sites.
The King of Rome may have become his nickname during his time in Italy, but Paulo Roberto Falcao was blessed with an excellent name from birth—Falcao or "Falcon."
Birds are not uncommon in Brazilian names, but Falcao is one of the few for whom the name is actually a surname. However, there are other Falcaos—such as the futsal star—for whom it is a nickname.
Falcao was one of the most prominent footballers of the 1980s, taking on a starring role in the 1982 World Cup alongside Socrates and Zico.
2. Donizete Pantera
A Brazilian striker of some repute throughout the 1990s, Donizete Pantera was named for his goal celebration in which he mimicked the prowl of a panther.
The name stuck, and throughout his career, he was commonly referred to as O Pantera or Donizete Pantera.
His son, Renan Donizete, also a forward, is on the books of Carioca side Flamengo and is often called Panterinha, or "Little Panther," in media coverage.
The "Little Wren" who captivated Brazil, Garrincha was the only player of his era who could come close to or match Pele.
The greatness of his career was perhaps only matched by the tragedy of his life away from the football pitch, which quickly descended into addiction and helplessness.
Despite obstacles, including being born with one leg considerably longer than the other, his name is written deep in footballing folklore.
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