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Footballers Named After… Famous People

Here is a list of ten players who you might not know were named after famous people from all walks of life, from sport to showbiz, to science.


If pub trivia is your thing then add this to your locker. The boffins at sports ticket website Ticket-Compare have compiled a list of ten players who you might not know were named after famous people from all walks of life, from sport to showbiz, to science. It goes to show that the names that make the headlines sometimes have the unlikeliest of origins.

Dennis Bergkamp > Denis Law

Football maestro Dennis Bergkamp was given his name after his dad’s hero, Denis Law. Dennis with two N’s never once pulled on a Red Devils shirt but faced them on many occasions in the Arsenal line-up. The non-flying Dutchman even helped the Gunners to a title winning season in 2002 when he lifted the trophy at Old Trafford.

Charlie Otaway > QPR 1973

Brace yourself. Anthony Philip David Terry Frank Donald Stanley Gerry Gordon Stephen James Oatway was named after the entire 1973 QPR first-team. It turned out to be such a mouthful that his family started referring to him as plain Charlie and that stuck for good.

Lionel Messi > Lionel Richie

Lionel Messi’s dad’s guilty pleasure was revealed to the world when he named the young Argentina forward after the pop star. Messi senior was being a massive fan of Lionel Richie back in the day and hoped his son would follow in his footsteps. Messie instead chose football as his stage and has played to millions of supporters during his tenure at Barcelona. Richie was said to be honored at the gesture. Oh, what a feeling.

David Cotterill > George Best

No prizes for guessing who David Rhys George Best Cotterill was named after. The Welsh international footballer who plays out wide for Bristol City even bumped into his namesake in the street during a chance encounter. Legend has it that Cotterill approached the Northern Ireland legend with his birth certificate and asked for his signature to which Best replied ‘Not another one.’

Asa Hartford > Al Jolson

The Leeds midfielder of yesteryear by was awarded his unusual first name on account of his dad’s fondness for singer, Al Jolson, whose real name was in fact Asa Yolson. Hartford went on record to say that his dad was a huge admirer. Sadly Jolson died days before the football legend-to-be was born.

Pele > Thomas Edison

We know him as Pele, but the iconic Brazilian athlete entered the world as Edson Arantes do Nascimento. His first name was a tribute to inventor and scientist Thomas Edison, albeit an unusual spelling. No wonder that Pele lit up so many stadiums with his exceptional skill and charisma.

James Rodriguez > James Bond

Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez has an unlikely namesake in fictional sophisticated spy James Bond. Cue the jokes about license to roam the midfield and leaving the opposition shaken but not stirred – Rodriguez has heard them all. If only the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner wore shirt number 007 when serving club and country and not his traditional 10.

Cristiano Ronaldo > Ronald Reagan

Who says politics doesn’t go mainstream? Back in the day Ronald Reagan picked up his fair share of critics but inspired a few followers too, one of which being none other than the dad of Cristiano Ronaldo. CR7 claims he knew from a young age that his father admired Tricky Dicky and thought Ronald was a strong name.

Ronaldo and Romario Vieira > Ronaldo and Romario

In 2016 Romario and Ronaldo signed for Leeds United and it must have raised an eyebrow or two. It’s not everyday that two of Brazil’s most famous footballing exports swap samba life for the grim north of England. But these names belong to two twins who were christened after the world cup winning stars and just happen to hail from Brazil. Their last name is also Vieira. So no pressure then lads.


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