Round here at Squawka HQ, we’re quite partial to the weird and wonderful Pandora’s Box of footballer nicknames. Of course, to make this elite-level list, we want something beyond ‘Giggsy’ and ‘Scholesey’ – we’re not a secondary school PE teacher after all.
So without further ado, here are the top 14 for your delight, disbelief and amusement…
1. The Little Witch – Juan Sebastián Verón
A reasonably well-known one to start off with, the ex-Manchester United, Chelsea and Parma midfielder was known as ‘The Little Witch’ simply because his father, Juan Ramón Verón, who was a key figure for Estudiantes in the 1960s, was referred to by fans of the club as ‘The Witch’.
2. Whitney – Alfred N’Diaye
Senegal international and former Sunderland midfielder Alfred N’Diaye has led a pretty unremarkable career to date, after short spells with Nancy, Bursaspor, Eskişehirspor, Real Betis and now Villarreal, but it’s his nickname ‘Whitney’ which will stick in the memory the longest, based on Whitney Houston’s classic ’90s schmaltz-athon ‘I Will Always Love You’ – or in this case ‘N’Diaye Will Always Love You.’
3. The Wardrobe – Papa Bouba Diop
Well, I mean, just look at the size of him! It might not be the wittiest of nicknames, but in terms of onomatopoeia, it hits it dead on the money. The 6 ft 5′ midfielder enjoyed Premier League spells with Fulham, Portsmouth, West Ham and Birmingham.
4. The Divine Ponytail – Roberto Baggio
An oldy but a goody. The ex-Juventus, AC Milan and Italy attacker was handed this nickname, known as Il Divin Codino back in his homeland, in reference to his ponytailed hairstyle and graceful style of play.
5. The Magic Dwarf – Philipp Lahm
When he finally hangs up his boots, Philipp Lahm will no doubt go down as one of the most underrated, reliably world-class players ever to grace the higher echelons of the game, but it’s the Bayern Munich man’s nickname ‘The Magic Dwarf’ which really catches the eye – given to him by the German media due to his small stature and the precise nature of his play.
6. Can’t Control – Carlton Cole
Genuinely witty one, this, but certainly an affectionate nickname. He now plays for Sacramento Republic in the USL, the second tier of North American football. After spending nine years at West Ham he joined Celtic but would leave with just four league games.
7. El Guzano – Brad Guzan
Admit it, you laughed at this one. The sheer absurdity of it. Is there a more bog standard goalkeeper in the Premier League than the Boro shot-stopper? Probably not. He’s the epitome of the everyman. Yet when he played for Chivas USA in the MLS between 2005-2008, he became something of a cult hero among its predominantly Mexican fanbase.
8. One Size – Fitz Hall
Oh yes, now we’re talking. Given to the jack of all trades, master of none defender back when he played for Oldham, Fitz Hall, or ‘One Size’ to his team-mates is best known for his spells at the back while playing for QPR and Crystal Palace.
9. Double Trigger – Jason McAteer
A much-mocked member of the infamous ‘Spice Boys’ era at Liverpool in the mid-90s, there are so many good stories about McAteer’s famed lack of intelligence and sharpness. Given the nickname by his team-mates at the time in reference to The Only Fools And Horse character ‘Trigger.’ If you haven’t heard of the pizza story, the coat hanger story or the Steve Davis story, we urge you to check them out, but this video below sums up him brilliantly.
10. The White Feather – Fabrizio Ravanelli
The ex-Middlesbrough striker’s hair turned grey at the tender age of 14, which while it may sound strange to me and you, it’s apparently a Ravanelli family trait, and one that gave birth to a quite haunting Godfather Part 2-esque nickname.
11. Il Capitano – Francesco Totti
This nickname does exactly what it says on the tin. ‘Il Capitano’ stands quite simply as ‘The Captain’ and in the eyes of the Roma fans, there will be no other. Totti was named captain at the club at just 21 years old and is currently in his 25th season with the Giallorossi having made his debut way back in 1992. A standard nickname for a truly staggering player.
12. BFG – Per Mertesacker
A Emirates favourite, in reference to the Roald Dahl character from his book The BFG, with Mertesacker it stands for ‘Big F*****g German’ and with the Arsenal centre-back coming in at 6ft 7′ you won’t find many people willing to quibble with the logic behind that one.
13. Wash N’Go – David N’Gog
The Liverpool and Bolton striker was handed the nickname during his time at Anfield by his team-mates in reference to the well-known shampoo brand. Made all the stranger by the fact that the player himself was bald.
14. Dave – César Azpilicueta
When Chelsea signed the Spain full-back in 2012, there was much consternation about how to correctly pronounce his surname, which hardly lent itself to a catchy chant for their new player, so as a way to avoid this pesky business of getting someone’s name right, Chelsea fans came up with the nickname’Dave’.
Psycho – Stuart Pearce
The Baby-Faced Assassin – Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Le Sulk – Nicolas Anelka
El Tractor – Javier Zanetti
El Tigre – Radamel Falcao
The Cellar – Pavel Pogrebnyak
The Bison – Michael Essien
Calamity James – David James
Romford Pele – Ray Parlour
Chicharito ‘Little Pea’ – Javier Hernandez
The Squirrel – Alexis Sánchez
Batigol – Gabriel Batistuta
El Fenomeno – Ronaldo
El Nino – Fernando Torres
Pitbull – Gary Medel
Ginger Pirlo – Jack Colback
Chris(tmas hamper) – Kiki Musampa