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SourceSipingNewsNetwork    Updated2020-04-05 14:06:29



  Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

  When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a Manchester United player he was known as the "Baby-faced Assassin."

  It was a nickname that made sense, despite joining the club as a 23-year-old, the Norwegian looked like a man of much younger years.

  That fresh face coupled with his unerring accuracy in front of goal, often off the bench, added the assassin epithet.

  Those days are gone, and not just on the pitch for the Old Trafford club. While their fans may wish for a  Solskjaer-style figure on the pitch, let alone the glory that his injury-time winner in the Camp Nou that balmy May night back in 1999 brought to the club, the manager may wish  for the looks of his youth.

  Solskjaer still looks younger than his 46 years but he has also undoubtedly aged during his 13 months at the helm.

  A similar fate befell David Moyes when he was tasked with the biggest job in English football.

  While Solskjaer might need a new nickname, it does remind us all of the days footballers had sobriquets to match their skills.

  Why is no one conjuring up nicknames like La Brujita (The Little Witch), the nom de guerre of Solskjaer's sometime Manchester United teammate Juan Sebastian Veron?

  It probably helped matters that Veron's father was known as La Bruja (The Witch).

  Argentina has given us some great players with nicknames to match.

  Carlos Tevez might not be remembered fondly in Shanghai or the red half of Manchester but there is no doubt that "El Apache" has one of the best nicknames - and it comes from the barrio where he grew up.

  Manchester City's Sergio Aguero has childhood nickname "Kun" along with his surname on the back of his shirt. The nickname comes from his favorite TV show as a child, the Japanese animation Kum-Kum.

  Juventus striker Pablo Dybala is known as The Jewel, PSG's Angel di Maria is The Noodle, while former Inter Milan man Javier Zanetti is known as The Tractor on account of covering every blade of grass up and down the wing.

  Gabriel Batistuta's nickname was even simpler to understand - Batigol described what he did best. He was the nation's top scorer until Lionel Messi overtook him in 2016 with a free kick against the USA at the Copa America Centenario.

  Animal kingdom

  Messi himself was known as The Flea or the Atomic Flea by the Spanish press because of his dimunitive stature and change of direction to leave players standing in his wake. Nowadays though his fans prefer to call him by a different animal nickname: the Goat (or Greatest of All Time).

  The animal kingdom accounts for former international striker Javier Saviola (The Rabbit) and Roberto Ayala (The Mouse).

  Across the border in Brazil, former national team striker Edmundo was simply The Animal for his ferocious playing style and rather colorful attitude to life off the pitch. Edmundo once took a chimpanzee out drinking to celebrate a birthday and walked  out on Fiorentina to attend the Rio Carnival despite fellow striker Batistuta being on the treatment table.

  Julio "The Beast" Baptista picked up his nickname for his dominance on the pitch.

  If there was a World Cup of footballer's nicknames then the Brazilians would be up there. Adriano was known as The Emperor when he was at his imperious best at Inter Milan before his career went off the rails.

  His predecessor as Inter Milan's favorite Brazilian forward, Ronaldo, was known simply as O Fenomeno, or the phenomenon, until he became R9 later in his career.

  The Italians have some excellent nicknames for players, from The Divine Ponytail Roberto Baggio to Giorgio "King Kong" Chiellini.

  One-club man Francesco Totti was known as The Eighth King of Rome at Roma, while Fabrizio Ravanelli  was known as The White Feather on account of his prematurely grey hair.

  Former Juventus man Sebastian Giovinco is The Atomic Ant, on account of being even shorter than The Atomic Flea at just 162 centimeters. It was a name he has carried from Turin to Toronto in the MLS and now Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia.

  In Germany, nicknames have been a little more blunt. Record scorer Gerd Muller was Der Bomber (The Bomber) while both Thomas Hitzelsperger and Jorg Albertz have been called Der Hammer (The Hammer).

  Stature matters

  There are nicknames to be found across the football world. Turkish striker Hakan Sukur was called The Bull of the Bosphorus on account of his physical attributes, while the same could be said for Switzerland's Champions League holder Xherdan Shaqiri being known as the Magic Dwarf.

  It's a similar tale for former Arsenal midfield maestro Thomas Rosicky, who was given the nickname Little Mozart in his homeland, although Mexico's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez can thank his father being The Pea for his Little Pea moniker.

  Stature was certainly the reason why Senegal's World Cup 2002 hero Papa Bouba Diop was affectionately known as The Wardrobe. Another hero of that World Cup, South Korea's Park Ji-sung is known as Three Lungs because of his stamina.

  France's Didier Deschamps was known as The Water Carrier -- not bad for a man who has carried the World Cup as a player and a coach - and his teammate Zinedine Zidane, who has not done too badly as a manager was always Zizou.

  It was he who provided the ironic nickname of Zinedine for Everton's Kevin Kilbane, while there must  be a touch of irony to Ray Parlour being called The Romford Pele.

  It was in England where his Arsenal teammate Dennis Bergkamp became the Non-Flying Dutchman, on account of his reluctance to travel by plane, a sure sign of the humor of the terraces and the dressing room.

  The prime example of that? Former Newcastle United and QPR defender "One Size" Fitz Hall. Ironically, that's proof that there is a nickname that is perfect for every player.

  Newspaper headline: The name of the game


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