Onto central midfield, the most important area on the football pitch. That remains the case in the ‘Team of Funny Names’, where tensions are running high over the strong competition. You’re all being far too nice with the feedback; I demand you dwell on all negatives this week. It is highly enjoyable to write these pieces though – I just love football. It’s incredibly easy to be pessimistic about the state of the game but I think it’s important that we look at the humorous side, the side that reminds us why we love the sport. So to start us off today, a midfielder that may or may not exist…
Google this name and unfortunately the same words show up – “myth”, “supposedly”, “no evidence” and “never existed”. I’d feel awful for not mentioning him though because, if he does exist, he wins this contest hands down. No questions asked. Anyway, the creative midfielder allegedly played for Algeria in the 1970s, trying to find holes in the opposing defence. Ahhh you know what? I’m not proud of that joke. We’re better than that! But there’s no evidence that he actually existed and we therefore have to assume that, in an era where we have access to almost anything in history, he’s completely fabricated. What a shame.
Hoolahan is just a lovely name to say, isn’t it? The midfielder signed for Norwich from Blackpool in 2008 and has been a key player in their Premier League survivals. He’s had an unspectacular career that started at Shelbourne and Livingston, with seven international caps for Republic of Ireland in the meantime. Fascinatingly, hula is a dance made famous in Hawaii and Hoolahan is an anagram of Aloha (Hawaiian greeting of peace) Hon (short for Hawaiian capital Honolulu). Now that you’ve read that piece of genius, time for my fantastic Hawaii wordplay joke. No, wait…where are you going?!?!
For those that are still here, this skilled, rhythmic midfielder is a former footballer that now plays futsal back home in Brazil. His football career was actually rather poor, consisting of being a squad player in Switzerland and America. Aged just 27, Virtuoso left FC Chiasso in 2011 in order to play indoor football for Valenga/Juventude Futsal.
The thing about Sven Bender is that he’s actually very good at football. He isn’t some Swiss League squad filler, Australian wartime goalkeeper or random Zimbabwean nobody. Sven, like his twin brother Lars, is a current German international and is set to take part in Brazil 2014. He was a key component of the Dortmund team that reached May’s Champions League Final and is still only 24. The joy of his name is the repetition of ‘en’ and that his surname is the robot from Futurama. He’s a wonderful player who we’ll hear a lot more from in the next decade.
Rhymes. With 87 Swiss caps, Hakan and his brother Murat were part of Basel’s fantastic Champions League run in 2002-03. This included games against Liverpool and Manchester United. He was an important player for his country in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, before finishing as joint second top goal scorer in Euro 2008. Yakin sometimes plays as a second striker and is now in the twilight of his career, playing for his seventh Swiss club.
Emmanuel Frimpong – Arsenal midfielder with one cap for Ghana but unfortunately still hasn’t played ping pong with Razak Pimpong. The world needs to see the Frimpong-Pimpong ping pong clash!
Julian Baumgartlinger – Another Austrian crops up here, as this 25-year-old plays in the Bundesliga for Mainz 05. Each part of his surname is incredibly Germanic.
Gerardo Torrado – Also rhymes. Has almost 150 caps for Mexico.
Jeremy Toulalan – I can’t not say this name as ‘ooh-la-la’.
Frank Awanka – Another rhymer. There isn’t much evidence of this Luxembourg midfielder but by all accounts he DOES exist, unlike Bandeet. Saying the name out loud is just marvellous, truly.
I have to split forwards into two separate posts because, quite frankly, there are so many forwards with great names. So you’ve got two more to look forward to/dread!