Nicknames of some prominent footballers are popular than their real names. Some use part of their names for various reasons. We compile a list of some prominent players who used nicknames or part of their names on their jerseys.
Benjani Mwaruwari, a former Zimbabwean international footballer revealed this year that his real name is Mpenjani saying he became Benjani due to a misunderstanding between his father Amon and the officials at the Registrar General’s office. His name was later wrongly written to Benjamin when he was playing in Zimbabwe. In Europe, he was simply known as Benjani after clubs found it difficult for them to pronounce his surname.
Chicharito Javier Hernández Balcazar, commonly known as Chicharito which means little pea in Spanish, got the name because his father, Javier Hernández Gutiérrez, was nicknamed Chícharo (pea).
Kaka Ricardo Izecson Dos Santos Leite, better known as Kaka, is one of the best football players ever. He became Kak’a after his younger brother Digao had continuously called him “Caca” due to his inability to pronounce “Ricardo” when they were young; it eventually evolved into Kaka. The word means poop in Italy, the same meaning it has in Zimbabwean Ndebele.
Ronaldinho Ronaldo de Assis Moreira is a two-time Fifa World footballer of the year winner, Ronaldinho began playing organized youth soccer at the age of 7, and it was as a youth soccer player that he first received the nickname ‘Ronaldinho’, the diminutive form of his birth name, Ronaldo. He was called that when he was little because he was really small, and he played with players who were older than him.
Robinho Robson de Souza is popularly known as Robinho, which means little Robson. Robinho got the name in his early footballing years in Brazil because of his diminutive stature. He currently plies his trade with Brazilian team Clube Atlético Mineiro.
Isco Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez is popularly known as Isco, which simply means little magician. Isco currently plays for Real Madrid.
Hulk born name Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, known as Hulk, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Shanghai SIPG as a forward, though he can also operate as a winger.
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Fred: Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos, known as Fred, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Manchester United and the Brazil national team.
Pepe: Kepler Laveran de Lima Ferreira ComM, known as Pepe, is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a centre back for Porto and the Portugal national team. He said, “My name in Brazil is quite difficult to pronounce. My coach and my father and called me Pepe because it was easier. And that how it has stayed”
Messi: Lionel Andrés Messi is only popularly known as Lionel Messi. He is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward and captains both FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team.
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, known as Neymar, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national team.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro GOIH ComM is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Serie A club Juventus and captains the Portugal national team.
Marcelo: Marcelo Vieira da Silva Júnior, known as Marcelo, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a left-back for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Brazil national team.
Rúben Dias: Rúben dos Santos Gato Alves Dias, known as Rúben Dias is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for Premier League club Manchester City and the Portugal national team.
Pele: Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé, is a Brazilian former professional footballer who played as a forward. Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, he was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century.