The Most Ridiculous Names in Sport: Part One

More than ten years ago I began compiling a list of what can only be described as sportspeople with ridiculous names, after I discovered the existence of the gloriously-monikered footballer Jermaine McSporran (strangely enough, he’s not Scottish…). The list lay dormant for quite some time until my recent discovery of another footballer with a quite astonishingly ridiculous name – the Brazilian lower-league striker Creedence Clearwater Couto (see below for more on this chap).

Posting this discovery on Twitter led to a flood of quite brilliantly silly new names (and a few old favourites) from many of my followers – leaving me clinging to my desk, breathless with laughter, for the whole of one evening last month. God knows what the neighbours must have thought! As a result of all this social media fun and games, a number of people asked me to put together a complete list in one place (it ended up being two places: Part Two to follow!) – so here it is…

Goodies and baddies:

Eden Hazard is a cracking name,” correctly observes a Twitter correspondent, “Would make an excellent high-school superhero”. I concur (despite Hazard’s recent run-in with a ballboy), and would also suggest that the Chelsea and Belgium winger teams up in a superhero partnership with the ex-Swindon Town, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone player Danny Invincibile.

Another possible superhero pairing is just too irresistible not to include, combining as it does two fabulously-named sportsmen from two different sports – I’d love to see the Australian ex-rugby league player Steele Retchless teaming up with the ex-Fulham, Spurs and Sunderland midfielder Steed Malbranque in a partnership which also manages to suggest bad American detective shows from the 1980s!

Then we have the baddies: there’s Daniel Killer, who was part of Argentina’s 1978 World Cup winning squad, and the professional ice hockey player Miroslav Šatan. Plus, there have also been several possible relatives of the Grim Reaper in professional sport, including the long-standing Reading goalkeeper Steve Death and the Aussie rugby league player Jason Death (who was, apparently, nicknamed ‘Doctor.’ Ahem.).

Culture vultures:

I’m going to start this section with one of the best names ever – that of the late-1940s Australian goalkeeper Norman Conquest (thank you to the very large number of people who suggested him!). As a geeky historian, I find his name particularly wonderful – although I suspect he faced a fair few 1066 jokes in his time! It does make you wonder what his parents were thinking when they named him, though…

When it comes to musical names, I’ve already mentioned Creedence Clearwater Couto, who is better known to confused Brazilians as Paulista (and yes, his parents were big fans of the 1960s American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival…). I also spotted the Croatian goalie Stipe Pletikosa (who is, disappointingly, no relation to R.E.M.’s Michael).

Shakespeare gets a look in too, with the Armenian midfielder Hamlet Mkhitaryan and the South African international Macbeth Sibaya representing the Bard. I also found the rather unlikely intellectual pairing of the ex-Belgian international Danny Boffin and the young Manchester United and England player Tom Cleverley

Nominative determinism…. or not:

Sometimes your name predicts what path you’re going to take in life, which was surely the case for the American high jumper Nathan Leeper – and for the astonishingly-named Segar Bastard, who was both a footballer and a referee in the late 19th century (a not uncommon combination in those amateur days). I can almost hear the fans chanting: “Who’s the bastard in the…. oh.”

However, sometimes it’s just the opposite. Mike England played for and managed the Welsh national football side. Germán Villa is neither German nor from Brum (instead, he was capped more than 60 times for Mexico). Justice Christopher is a Nigerian midfielder rather than a judge. And the Honduran international Carlos Costly certainly wasn’t when he signed a loan deal with Birmingham City in 2009…

Stop that, it’s getting silly:

I was particularly taken with the Seychelles international footballer Johnny Moustache, although I could find very little about him. Any more information on this intriguingly-named player is very welcome! I also rather liked the Twitter suggestions of the Danish cycling road racer Bo Hamburger and the Burundian footballer Faty Papy.

Another one for the list of ‘what were his parents thinking?’ names is ex-England rugby union international Austin Healey, who appears to have been named after a type of vintage car. Rugby union also gives us the famous ex-All Blacks number eight Zinzan Valentine Brooke (his brothers, also rugby players, have slightly less romantic names, being called Robin and Marty).

Then there’s the ex-QPR winger Doudou (not his real name, fortunately), the now-retired German midfielder Torsten Frings (well, I’ve always though that a silly name…), and the superbly-monikered Harry Daft, who was an England international in the late 19th century – as well as playing first-class cricket for Nottinghamshire along the way (this sporting combination was not as uncommon as you might think, even as late as the 1970s).

Daft as that may be, it’s difficult to beat this one, which has to be one of the best names I have seen in a long time: meet Cerezo Fung a Wing, a Dutch defender from the tiny South American country of Suriname (originally a Dutch plantation colony). However, my absolute favourite in this category has to be another Twitter suggestion: Nortei Nortey, the young Chelsea reserve team right back. Yet another Twitter correspondent suggested that this lad should be playing for Halifax Town, because their nickname is The Shaymen (after their ground, The Shay, and not after the “naughty naughty very naughty” early 90s ravers The Shamen, sadly).

Utterly glorious:

Some of the names on my list are really just utterly wonderful, particularly in the world of football. I mean, you can’t argue with the likes of Christ Bongo-Zanoni (the Congolese striker), Surprise Moriri (the South African midfielder), or Danger Fourpence (the Zimbabwean defender), now can you?

More footballers with glorious names include: the Zambian international Laughter Chilembe, Scottish midfielder Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Panther, South Africa’s Naughty Mokoena (who was sent home from the 1998 World Cup for being… um… a bit naughty), and his fellow ex-Orlando Pirates player Tonic Chabalala.

However, I could find very little detail about my absolute favourite in this category; the singularly-named Have-A-Look Dube, who apparently played for the Njube Sundowns in Zimbabwe. I’d love to hear from anyone who has any more information on this player!

Massive thanks to all those who contributed to this post on Twitter and elsewhere, and apologies to everyone who has been waiting patiently for it – real life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of blogging sometimes…

Watch out for Part Two of this list (The Possibly NSFW Ones) coming soon. If you have any more suggestions to add to my list, please leave a comment here or tweet me!

Update – 01/05/13:

Just updated the post with a few names I noticed that I’d missed off the end of my list (I need more coffee, I think!) and a couple of new ones suggested by one of my Twitter followers – thanks to everyone who has read and shared this already!

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