Famous Soccer Nicknames: What Do They Mean?

In a prior article I noted that Lionel Messi, one of the greatest soccer players of all time, had reached his 700th goal. That article, which can be found here, mentions many things about Lionel Messi but not his nickname, La Pulga. The literal translation of his nickname means “the flea”, as he is famously known for his height, or lack thereof. He is also referred to as “La Pulga Atómica”, the atomic flea, similar to former Juventus and Toronto striker Sebastian Giovinco, who is referred to as the atomic ant. I honestly didn’t know this so I decided to look into it.

There are many famous soccer nicknames, but here are five of the most famous soccer stars nicknames and what they mean:

Javier Hernandez: Striker, LA Galaxy (Chicharito)

Javier Hernandez, who has played for some of the best teams in the world, as well as Manchester United, has the nickname Chicharito. His nickname is actually because of his dad’s nickname, Chicharo, which means pea, as in the vegetable. This was because of his dad, who was also a soccer player, had green eyes that resemble peas. Therefore Javier Hernandez was given the name Chicharito, which means little pea.

Roberto Baggio: Retired (Il Divino Codino)

Roberto Baggio’s nickname means “the divine pigtail”, referring to the Italian forward’s famous ponytail. However, Baggio probably wishes that he was known for that, as his long illustrious career is often forgotten. Baggio is most widely known for his miss in the 1994 World Cup Final shootout, as his too-high kick handed Brazil the World Cup trophy.

Franz Beckenbauer: Vice President, German Football Association (Der Kaiser)

Franz Beckenbauer is commonly named as the best defender of all time, as he helped Germany win a World Cup and helped Bayern Munich win the DFB Pokal and Bundesliga, both four times. Beckenbauer was known as Der Kaiser, which means “the emperor”, because of his leadership on the pitch.

Massimo Taibi: Retired (The Blind Venetian)

Massimo Taibi is definitely the least prolific name on this list. Known for his short stay at Manchester United, Massimo Taibi was dubbed “the blind Venetian” as the Italian keeper played for FC Venezia, a team which you can read about here, before being purchased by Manchester United following Peter Schmeichel’s departure in 1999. Taibi made many horrific mistakes in his four appearances for the Red Devils, including a mistake against Southampton’s Matthew Le Tessier which led to him being dubbed by newspapers as “the blind Venetian”.

Jose Mourinho: Manager, Tottenham (The Special One)

Jose Mourinho is one of the most famous managers in the world, but he certainly has the most famous nickname of any manager or player. Mourinho quickly rose to fame, starting his managing career in Portugal with Benfica before winning the Champions League with another Portugese club, FC Porto, just four seasons later. Mourinho has since coached for Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea (again), Manchester United and now Tottenham. However, Mourinho is most commonly known for his time at Chelsea, especially the first time, when he won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups. He’s mainly known for his quote, upon arriving at Chelsea:

“Please do not call me arrogant because what I’m saying is true: I’m European champion, so I’m not one out of the bottle; I think I’m a special one.”

– Jose Mourinho, 2004

This quote is commonly misunderstood, and many people believe that Mourinho called himself “the Special One”, which is why he is now known by this nickname.

So that is five of the most famous soccer nicknames. If you want want to discuss any nicknames, you would like a part two of this article, or just have any questions for me, please leave a comment. Don’t worry if your comment does not show up, all comments must be approved due to the amount of spam comments received. I hope you enjoyed, and as always, keep watching soccer!