Footballers’ Nicknames: 15 of the Weirdest & Most Wonderful Monikers in the Beautiful Game

Football is famous for its nicknames. Cristiano Ronaldo is CR7, Adriano is L’imperatore, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira will forever be Ronaldinho. And even then we have some more inventive names, such as Givanildo Vieira de Souza, simply known as Hulk.

Some nicknames can be self-appointed, or the can be bestowed upon a player by their siblings, managers or supporters. A lot of footballers probably hate them. And the problem with nicknames is, that whether you like them or not, they stick. 

Here’s a look at some of the weird and wonderful nicknames from throughout football history.

Matt Doherty – Doherto Carlos

The ​Wolves full-back won the hearts of Fantasy Premier League managers up and down the country last season, with some stellar performances for the newly-promoted side. His marauding runs and attacking prowess from the full-back position have led to him earning a nickname to be proud of. 

Matt Doherty

Doherto Carlos. Following in the footsteps of Real Madrid and Brazil defender Robert Carlos, who was known for his attacking ability rather than his defensive stability. Doherty admitted in an interview that he used to practice free-kicks in the fashion for which his namesake became renowned, and now he goes into his second Premier League season carrying the same title. 

Bravo Doherto.

Fitz Hall – One Size 

One size Fitz Hall. The former Watford and Crystal Palace defender didn’t earn his nickname through his impressive defensive skills, however as far as nicknames go, it’s certainly an impressive one. 

Anthony Modeste,Fitz Hall

In the world of football, it’s probably one of the wittier nicknames, and it has written Fitz into the Hall of Fame for football’s funniest names. 

Roberto Baggio – The Divine Ponytail

The Italian’s seem to give their stars creative and majestic nicknames, when compared to ​Wayne ‘Wazza’ Rooney or ​Harry ‘Slabhead’ Maguire. Baggio was the jewel in the Italian side’s crown in their 1994 World Cup campaign, as Gli Azzurri lost on penalties to Brazil in the final. 

Roberto Baggio,Andoni Zubizarreta

Baggio was iconic for his playing style and also his appearance, his ponytail bouncing and dancing around bamboozled defenders. The Italian will be remembered as one of the best footballers in history, and his ponytail will go down in history bouncing behind him. 

Duncan Ferguson – Duncan Disorderly 

For those who aren’t aware, Duncan Ferguson is a very scary man. The big Scotsman terrorised Premier League defences for 12 years and planted as many black eyes as he did goals during his time in England.

Duncan Ferguson and Trond Anderson

Whilst playing in Scotland, the striker headbutted an opponent and was subsequently jailed, and his constant brushes with the law on and off the field led to his nickname ‘Duncan Disorderly’.

A solid name, for a solid bloke. 

Antonio Cassano – Peter Pan

Another of football’s more controversial characters, Antonio Cassano was as talented as he was troubled. The charismatic striker’s career was filled with off-field scandals, but he possessed a child-like zest for life which earned him the nickname Peter Pan. Well, plus and the fact that he could never accept his own retirement, and constantly attempted short-lived comebacks but without much success. 

'Partita Del Cuore' Charity Match

Although Cassano never wanted to grow up, his lavish lifestyle caught up with him, and the hot-headed Italian never lived up to the promise he had shown in his early years in Italy. 

Massimo Taibi – The Blind Venetian 

Massimo Taibi arrived at Old Trafford with great expectations, but his dream ​Manchester United debut victory over ​Liverpool was quickly forgotten, and his Premier League career soon became a nightmare. 

Massimo Taibi

After a string of errors over the coming matches, he was comically labelled ‘The Blind Venetian’ by one newspaper. Taibi completed four games for Ferguson’s side, before he returned to Italy to play out the rest of his career, away from the British press.

Andoni Goikoetxea – The Butcher of Bilbao

Andoni Goikoetxea was just about as tough as they come in football. The bruising centre-back spent the majority of his playing career at Athletic Bilbao, and he earned himself his gruesome nickname following one of the most infamous tackles in football history. 

The excruciating assault came in a league match against ​Barcelona, in which he delivered a crunching tackle from behind on footballing icon Diego Maradona, breaking the Argentine’s ankle in the process. To add insult to injury, he incited a mass brawl during the 1984 Spanish Cup final against the Blaugrana and received an initial 18 game ban for kicking Maradona in the chest. 

Do not mess with The Butcher. 

Papa Bouba Diop – The Wardrobe 

The man-mountain was a Premier League regular for ​Fulham and Portsmouth, and it was at the Cottage that he was christened ‘The Wardrobe’. The Senegalese midfielder dominated proceedings in the middle of the park and it was his enormous physique which landed him this nickname. 

Fulham's English midfielder Danny Murphy

Diop was a solid midfielder and a dominant presence in the changing rooms, and the Wardrobe had no fears in giving his teammates a severe dressing-down. 

Chris Smalling – Mike 

Whilst Louis Van Gaal was unable to light up Old Trafford with his own sexy style of football, he did provide some great moments off the field. His press conferences were always a must-watch, and whether he was bursting into song, calling out journalists or shouting ‘Louis van Gaal’s army!’ over and over again, there was always something worth turning into a GIF waiting around the corner. 

During a pre-season tour, Van Gaal accidentally referred to Chris Smalling as Mike, and it didn’t take long for Twitter and the rest of the world to jump on this mishap. Whilst something so minor can happen daily in the real world, it rarely gets forgotten in the football bubble. Sorry Chris, but you’re going to be Mike Smalling for the rest of your life. 

German Burgos – Mono (Ape) 

Another footballer who took no prisoners was Argentine German Burgos. The goalkeeper is better known as ‘Mono’ due to his ape-like appearance.


The now-​Atletico Madrid assistant manager is a classic football hard-man, and during his time in Spain he was banned for 11 matches following an on-field assault of an opposition player. Simeone’s sidekick is as tough as the Atleti boss, currently forming the hardest managerial partnership in world football. 

Vincenzo Montella – L’Aeroplanino (The Little Aeroplane) 

Trademark celebrations are an important part of football nowadays. ​Ronaldo has his jumpy-swirly-shouty celebration, ​Bale has his love-heart gesture and we all remember Shefki Kuqi’s belly-flop which just looked painful. 

Vincenzo Montella was a diminutive Italian winger who ​nailed a celebration early in his career, out-stretching his arms and running around miming an aeroplane. It may not seem too cool, but he pulled it off pretty well and, l’Aeroplanino regularly took flight during Roma’s title-winning campaign in 2001. 

Nicolas Anelka – Le Sulk

Nicolas Anelka was one of the most talented strikers of his generation, but the fact he played for 12 different professional clubs suggests that the Frenchman came with some baggage. He suffered a difficult time at ​Arsenal, and the fans quickly turned against him as a result of a perceived lack of effort and enthusiasm for the club. 

Boro v Arsenal Nicolas Anelka

Le Sulk duly lived up to his new-found name and demanded to leave the Gunners, and bagged himself a move to ​Real Madrid, which wouldn’t last long either. A fitting nickname for a wonderful but troubled striker. 

Dion Dublin – The Shower Clearer

Dublin made a name for himself as a lethal weapon in front of goal, but it was another weapon which impressed boss Sir Alex Ferguson. The striker’s manhood was a hot topic for the Man Utd manager, and it astonished him to apparently utter the iconic words…

Dion Dublin of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the equalising goal with team-mate Olof Mellberg

“Big? It isn’t big. It’s magnificent! I’ve seen some whoppers in my time, but Dion’s is something else.”  

A honourary mention also goes to Claude Makelele, who had the nickname ‘The Tripod’, thrust upon him. 

Ferenc Puskas – The Galloping Major

Puskas was one of football’s very first icons, as he and his Hungary side wrote themselves into the sport’s history with some incredible displays, most notably a 7-1 thrashing of a talented England side in 1954. Puskas was a superb player, but he didn’t gain his nickname ‘The Galloping Major’ ​through his sporting exploits. 

Puskas’ side Kispest was taken over by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, and all players were given military names. 

Borja Iglesias – The Panda 

New Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias is known as ‘The Panda’, but it’s not because of his ability to bamboo-zle defenders. 

Borja is a big fan of hip-hop music, and he discovered the song ‘Panda’ by Desiigner, which he fell in love with. His former Celta Vigo side became known as ‘The Panda Team’, and some of the players even decided to have pandas tattooed on themselves. 

Facundo Ferreyra,Borja Iglesias

Iglesias embodies that team spirit and he has carried the nickname ‘The Panda’ for the rest of his career. Whenever he scores goals, he creates absolute panda-monium in the stands.