Didier Drogba “The King”
His Majesty. 104 goals in 254 games for Chelsea, 65 in 105 caps for Ivory Coast. Four English Premier League titles, four FA Cup medals, one UEFA Champions League trophy, two Golden Boots. Drogba brought Chelsea to unparalleled heights and made Ivory Coast dream the impossible dream.
Francesco Totti “Il Bimbo d’Oro”
The Roman Golden Boy joined the Giallorossi youth ranks in 1989. 27 years later, Totti is now the second goalscorer in Serie A history with 248 goals and one of the rare players in the modern era to have spent his entire career with only one club. With one Serie A title, two Coppa Italias and one World Cup, the Roma captain deserves all the praise directed at him.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez
Bayer Leverkusen’s Mexican striker, formerly of Manchester United, got his nickname from his father’s green eyes and own nickname. In fact, Chicharito means “little pea”. Sometimes, you don’t need to dig so deep…
Lionel Messi “La Pulga Atómica”
Quite simply, “the atomic flea”. Messi earned this nickname not only because of his height (170 cm), but also for his vivacity and his swiftness to get past opposing defenders.
Cristiano Ronaldo “CR7”
Even if this nickname comes from the Portuguese captain’s initials and number, it fits him perfectly: a Bombardier plane bears that name, as does a galaxy discovered in 2015. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s CR7!
Alfredo Di Stéfano “La Saeta Rubia”
This might ring a bell: five consecutive championships between 1956 and 1960 with an influential, legendary #9. But we are not talking about the Montreal Canadiens and Maurice “Rocket” Richard. The blonde arrow, Argentine Alfredo Di Stéfano, filled the goals in Spain and Europe, as well as Real Madrid’s trophy case. Considered by many as the most complete and greatest player, Di Stéfano scored 418 goals in 510 games, but his most impressive tally is surely the five consecutive European Cups – a feat not even close to having been matched.
Ronaldo “Il Fenomeno”
During his first spell in Italy, at Inter Milan, Ronaldo (the Brazilian) won the nickname “phenomenon”. We have to say his record of 56 goals in 91 games with the Nerazzurri is pretty phenomenal indeed.
Diego Maradona “El Pibe de Oro”
The Golden Boy has a golden record indeed: World Cup winner in 1986, World Cup finalist in 1990, elected best player of the 20th century, Italian champion, winner of the Copa del Rey and 312 goals in 589 career games, including the best goal of all time according to some and the worst goal of all time according to the English.
Pelé “Pérola Negra”
Who is the best player in the world? This question has been lingering since… almost always. Ronaldo or Messi? Pelé or Maradona? The Brazilian black pearl wants to have a word. Three World Cups, two Copas Libertadores, six Brazilian championships, athlete of the century according to many international media outlets and 643 goals in 656 official games ennoble him in football’s royalty.
Fitz Hall “One Size”
This obscure English centre back makes our list because of this spectacular nickname. Hats off.
Andrea Pirlo “The Architect”
Who would not want to share a bottle of wine with Andrea Pirlo? At his peak, the Italian did not need to run everywhere to control the midfield: his talent, vision and decision-making enabled him to rip to shreds opposing defensive shapes. His distribution built and directed his team’s attacks. His casual look probably also has something to do with his nickname.
Tomas Rosicky “Little Mozart”
The Czech attacking midfielder has been injured too often and for too long in his career, depriving us from a player whom every soccer fan loves to watch. It was Borussia Dortmund’s fans who called this pure number 10 “Little Mozart” for his capacity to direct and orchestrate the play, and because of his home town, Prague.
Gennaro Gattuso “Pitbull”
Two UEFA Champions League, two Serie A titles and one FIFA Club World Cup: Gennaro Gattuso’s fireplace mantle is stocked and deeply linked to AC Milan’s history. Even though he only scored 17 goals in a career spanning from 1995 to 2013, he put his mark (sometimes literally) in Italian football with his tremendous energy, determination and workrate.
Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite “Kaká”
The 2007 Ballon d’Or winner (the same year he won the Champions League with AC Milan) got his nickname thanks to his brother. Little Rodrigo, who nowadays is also a professional player, could not articulate Ricardo properly and called his older brother “Caca”. The nickname evolved and became the Kaká we now all know.
Tony Adams “Mr. Arsenal”
Having worn the colours of London’s most successful club from 1983 to 2002, Tony Adams was the witness of a revolution at Highbury, between the Boring, Boring Arsenal time and the Wengerball era. A member of the famous four, well known for its impermeability at the back, Adams became a new man under Wenger. Four English championships and three FA Cups show his importance in Gunners history.