Is it just me, or are player nicknames not as imaginative these days?
Or as intimidating?
In the past, fearsome defenders had fearsome monikers to put the wind up opponents before the whistle had even blown.
I’m thinking of Norman “Bites Yer Legs” Hunter, Stuart “Psycho” Pearce, Ron “Chopper” Harris, Julian “The Terminator” Dicks. Charlton Athletic’s Derek Hales had not one but two scary soubriquets: “Killer” and “Deadly Derek.” The big centre half Barry Kitchener at Millwall was known as “Lurch.” In these more refined times you have to go to World Wrestling Entertainment to find nicknames like that.
And if they’re too red-in-tooth-and-claw for our modern sensibilities, how about humorous nicknames? Again, I would contend they’re just not as funny as they used to be.
Who could resist a smile on hearing that Ray Parlour was “the Romford Pele” or that the former Palace and Watford player Fitz Hall was known as “One Size” (one size fits all – geddit?).
In more recent times Per Mertesacker’s nickname takes some beating: calling him The BFG (channeling Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant but adding a healthy dose of irreverence to turn it into Big F_____g German) was a stroke of genius and caught on with the fans from day one, even if it took a while for Per to understand the joke (who’d have thought Germans would struggle with a sense of humour?).
So let’s look at our current first team players.
Aubameyang is Auba, Lacazette is Laca, Ozil is just, well, Ozil… I mean, come on! Surely we can do better?
I suppose Torreira/Terrier is just about acceptable (it works as a pun and sort-of describes his playing style). Doozy for Guendouzi might have some mileage (dictionary definition of ‘doozy’ – “something outstanding or unique of its kind”) but has it really caught on? Kolasinac is sometimes called “Tank”, which is fair enough (although often his defending makes him more ‘septic’ than ‘Chieftain’).
So let’s have a stab at coming up with some new nicknames for our boys. I’ll get the ball rolling, but please pitch in with your own suggestions:
Hector “The Protector” Bellerin (protects our goal from enemy wingers).
Pierre Emerick “BamBam” Aubameyang.
Rob “Small” Holding (it’s meant to be ironic, given that he’s 6ft 2in).
Reiss “Horatio” Nelson (heroic enough, but then does anyone know their history these days?).
Skodhran “Skoda” Mustafi (occasionally dependable but a bit slow and prone to breaking down).
Calum “Star” Chambers (another one for the history buffs).
Mesut “Kaa” Ozil (Kaa is the hypnotic snake from The Jungle Book: Ozil, at his best, seems to hypnotise defenders… plus there’s those big, bulging eyes).
Dani “Sasquatch” Ceballos (have you seen the size of his big feet?).
Alexandre “The Lion of Lyon” Lacazette (bit rubbish, but all I could manage. He was born in Lyon).
Gabriel “The Angel” Martinelli (simple, but I like it).
I feel a bit sorry for Joe Willock (who is a terrific prospect) because all I could think of for him was Joe “The Pillock” Willock, which is most unfair. So I won’t mention that one.
Come on you lot, help me out.
Or at least mention your favourite nicknames for players past and present (of Arsenal or any other club).
I’ll leave you with a funny anecdote. When Shola Ameobi was playing for Newcastle United under the managership of the aging and somewhat forgetful Bobby Robson, an interviewer asked him what the other players called him. The disappointing answer was “Shola.” Then the interviewer said: “What does Bobby Robson call you?” Ameobi replied: “He calls me Carl Cort.”