From Nabokov to Vermeer: Sports World's Most Artistic Surnames

Paul MullaneyContributor IIDecember 12, 2011

From Nabokov to Vermeer: Sports World's Most Artistic Surnames

0 of 14

    For as long as anyone can remember, sportsmen have constantly been compared to artists in the way they go about their profession, whether it's because of their flair, creativity, bravery, composure or even simply just their style.

    Or, of course, their names. And some sportsmen pull it off better than others.

    Before you ask, I have to tell you that no, there is no room for Richard (van) Gough. We decided in the end that this would be stretching it a little too much.

Linford Christie (Agatha Christie)

1 of 14

    Here, you could be clever and try to suggest that the story of Linford Christie testing positive for banned substances at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul was akin to something from an Agatha Christie novel.

    But we're not anything like as tacky or as contrived as that.

    Their names are the same, though.

Colin Hemingway (Ernest Hemingway)

2 of 14

    "The Sun Also Rises"—try telling that to Colin Hemingway.

    Although he started his career brightly and was picked 221st overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, the Regina, Saskatchewan native never really made his mark.

    He featured only three times for the Blues in the NHL before moving to play in Ireland with Belfast. He currently plays for the Wichita Thunder of the Central Hockey League.

    Perhaps "Death in the Afternoon" might be more appropriate.

Tommy Burns (Robert Burns)

3 of 14

    With Robert and Tommy Burns, the similarities don't stop at the surname.

    Both beloved, both immensely talented, both Scottish and both dying tragically long before their time, the two will both go down in history as Scottish greats.

Ed Joyce (James Joyce)

4 of 14

    Throughout much of James Joyce's career, the author expressed a desire, a yearning to leave "his" Ireland behind him so that he might further himself, both personally and professionally.

    His novel, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," perhaps best explores this subject.

    However, we feel that if James Joyce had been a cricketer, despite these feelings, he would never have chosen to play for England, regardless of whether or not it represented a step up in his career.

    That's just taking it too far.

Mozart

5 of 14

    How could we have a list about footballers with artistic names without Mozart?

    Born Mozart Santos Batista Júnior in Curitiba, Brazil in 1979, the Brazilian midfielder did his best to live up to his name as a player, renowned as he was for his creativity and his ability to dictate play, almost like a composer.

    There are a few differences between the two, however, most notably that this Mozart wasn't quite so well known at the age of five and didn't have quite the same head of hair.

Robbie Blake (William Blake)

6 of 14

    Poet, painter, mystic, print-maker—I think we have to be fair and say that despite playing for both Burnley and Bolton, Robbie Blake's career doesn't quite match up to his namesake, William.

    Still, a decent enough player, nevertheless.

Carl Lewis (C.S. Lewis)

7 of 14

    For many of these, the artist is much better known than the athlete, but in this particular case both are probably equally recognised and respected.

    A terrific all-around athlete, Carl Lewis won nine gold medals at the Olympics and eight at the World Championships across a variety of disciplines including 100m, 200m, the 4x100m relay and long jump.

    C.S. Lewis didn't have quite the same physical prowess but was the author of the much-loved "The Chronicles of Narnia" series. He also wrote a number of works in the field of Christian apologetics after his conversion to the religion in 1931.

Shaun Pollock (Jackson Pollock)

8 of 14

    A cricket commentator, whose name I must admit escapes me now, once likened a particularly messy outfield during a game to a Jackson Pollock painting, an artist whose work was easily recognisable by the use of his distinctive, abstract techniques.

    As a cricketer, Shaun Pollock was a lot more textbook, bowling a steady line-and-length and batting consistently and steadily both at Test level and in the One Day International format of the game.

    You have to wonder if the two would ever really have gotten along with each other.

Christoph Schubert (Franz Schubert)

9 of 14

    With Christoph and Franz, the similarities certainly do stop at the name.

    One is a rugged, uncomplicated ice hockey defenseman with a no-nonsense, no frills approach to playing the game.

    The other was an immensely talented composer who wrote some of the best known pieces from the classical period.

    Still, I'm not sure he'd have been so happy with taking a slap shot to the face.

Andrew Strauss (Richard Strauss)

10 of 14

    One of England's most successful captains, Andrew Strauss averages almost 42 in Test matches and has led England to two consecutive Ashes series victories as captain.

    Richard Strauss, on the other hand, was a German composer who wrote a number of orchestral works and operas during his long career.

    Who knows? He might also have been a cricket fan. But it's unlikely.

Patrick Marleau (Christopher Marlowe)

11 of 14

    Okay, granted, this one is a little more tenuous than the others.

    But all the same, when you say them, the two names sound exactly alike. And given how important a playwright Christopher Marlowe was and how high profile a player Patrick Marleau is, I think it's fair to try and squeeze him in.

Lewis Stevenson (Robert Louis Stevenson)

12 of 14

    This is one of the best.

    Not only do the two share the same surname, but the Hibs fullback's first name is clearly an homage to the great Scottish author.

    Then, when you consider that R.L. Stevenson came from Edinburgh and that Lewis plays for Hibernian, an Edinburgh club, it just gets better and better.

    The only question is, what happened most recently—Stevenson dying or Hibs winning the Scottish Cup?

Evgeni Nabokov (Vladimir Nabokov)

13 of 14

    Vladimir Nabokov was a multilingual Russian author whose most lauded works include the novels, "Lolita" and "Pale Fire," about a poem of the same name.

    Evgeni is a goaltender in the NHL, currently playing for the New York Islanders after spells with SKA St. Petersburg and prior to that the San Jose Sharks, where he is among the most successful goaltenders in the franchise's history.

    Again, there might be a joke in there, something to do with pale fire melting the ice.

    But that would just be lazy writing.

    Really lazy.

Kenneth Vermeer (Jan Vermeer)

14 of 14

    Art and Dutch football have long been seen as similar and indeed complimentary, with many feeling that proponents of one can learn a lot from the other and vice versa.

    As a goalkeeper, Vermeer doesn't have quite the same scope as a lot of the great Dutch footballers over the years have had, but his name alone is enough to keep the comparisons going.

    Just to add, this list wasn't ranked, for the reason that it's far too difficult to try and order these names in terms of how good or appropriate they are.

    Vermeer just happens to be at the end because it was the Lyon-Ajax match in the Champions League and being reminded of the keeper's name that gave me the idea for writing this article.