What’s in a name? Many, many characters, it turns out

2014-07-06 15:01

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Some players’ and coaches’ names at the World Cup are such tongue twisters, you’d be excused for thinking they were simply made up.

Greek midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Brazil striker Jô represent the long and short of it at the Brazil soccer spectacle this year.

Pronouncing “Christodoulopoulos” is one helluva task and the commentators must be happy to be able to catch their breath since Greece exited the tournament.

Midfielder Sokratis Papastathopoulos is not far off his team-mate Christodoulopoulos.

In fact, Papastathopoulos’ lengthy surname can’t even fit on his Borussia Dortmund shirt, so he

goes by Sokratis instead.

Other space consumers in print are Algeria reserve goalkeeper Mohamed Zemmamouche and Iran striker Reza Ghoochannejhad, whose nickname is “Gucci”.

The short and sweet of the players’ names at Brazil 2014 stops with Jô, who, like many Brazilian players, goes by just one name.

The Atlético Mineiro striker’s full name is João Alves de Assis Silva.

Radio and TV presenters should cherish the fact that Madagascar did not qualify for the World Cup because the Indian Ocean island boasts some of the longest and seemingly unpronounceable names in football.

They have names such as François Randrianomenjanahary and Baggio Rakotonomenjanahary. (See, I am already running out of space here.)

And what happens when one of the Italian Serie A’s prolific strikers bears the word ‘Immobile’ on the back of his jersey?

Well, Torino striker Ciro Immobile has statistics to prove that he is not quite as motionless a player as his name suggests. The 23-year-old scored 22 times in 33 games for his side in the Italian elite league last season.

Any copy subeditor will probably flag “Zvjezdan” as a potential spelling error if the story is about the Bosnia-Herzegovina attacking midfielder.

Well, as it turns out, Zvjezdan Misimovic is the team’s most capped player.

And how about Šime Vrsaljko of Croatia? Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard is one of Chelsea’s danger men.

The 23-year-old once took the meaning of his surname too far when he kicked a ball boy during Chelsea’s League Cup semifinal clash with Swansea last season, proving that Eden can indeed be a bit hazardous.

Is it a bird or a plane? Well, Korea Republic coach Hong Myung-bo’s name sounds more like that of a flying machine. Pity his team did not have a player named Honda, like rival Japan.

But wait until you hear who is the vice-president of the Korean Football Association: Huh Jung-moo. Cape Town, you heard this one right, my ma se kind.

Still on the Korean team, say “Kim” and five players will raise their hands – Kim Bo-Kyung, Kim Chang-Soo, Kim Young-gwon, Kim Shin-wook and Kim Seung-gyu. They also have four Lees.

There were also two people named Luis Suárez at the Brazil World Cup – one is the Uruguyan striker known for his biting, and the other was the Honduras coach, who is a Colombian national.

Switzerland midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri shouldn’t be confused with Colombian pop singer Shakira. The Bayern Munich player is of Albanian descent.

And wouldn’t Côte d’Ivoire defender Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro make a perfect nursery rhyme?

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