Football and the Name Game

England is where the game of football began and the practice of naming teams after factories, since many prestigious clubs started out as in-house factory squads. Arsenal had a humble birth in an arms factory at Woolwich that went by the name Royal Arsenal. That’s why the pet name Gunners and the cannon on their crest! Likewise, four time African champions, the Ghanian Black Stars, get their name from the stars on the national flag, which is a reminder of the Black Star Line shipping corporation that brought Africans back home.

Tint Hint
When it comes to the Whites of Leeds and the Reds of Liverpool, the colors of the football jerseys were the defining factor behind the sobriquets. Real Madrid has always been linked with the color white. The ‘Merengues’ boast of football giants like Ronaldo, Zidane, Raul, Ronaldinho, Figo and Beckham who have proudly worn the club’s white soccer shirt. The national team of Brazil is sometimes referred to as the Auriverdes or the Green and Gold, after the national flag and the soccer gear colors. Legends such as Pele, Zico, Eder, Didi, Garrincha, Tostão, Cafu, Socrates, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho have worn the green and yellow Brazilian soccer shirts with national pride. After all, they’re not called ‘the selected ones’ or Seleçao for nothing! And then, of course, vibrant colors hold a prominent place in Latin American football. There are the El Tricolor of Mexico and the Rojas or Reds of Chile.

True Blue
If red is sprinkled all over the soccer landscape, blue dominates in all its hues! You’ve got the famous sky blue and whites, the Albicelestes of Argentina, the Blue Samurais of Japan, the Celeste from Uruguay, Les Bleus of France and the Italian Azzurri. Though the first Azzurri team played in white soccer shirts, they later adopted a blue strip representing the royal House of Savoy in 1911. The Dutch team, nicknamed the Oranje, also took up the color orange in honor of the noble House of Orange. In the 1970s when the team became known for its ‘precision passing’, it earned the name Clockwork Orange. It is also referred to as the Dutch Eleven by some.

Straight jacketed!
German’s, known for their straightforward approach, have assimilated it in their name – die Nationalmannschaft or the national team. It really doesn’t get more specific than this! But fans prefer to cheer them on as Deutschland or Germany. England’s national team are the Three Lions, named after their crest. Not very creative these names, but let’s move on to the cool, whacky and goofy!

It’s Different!
Greece’s team, the Pirate Ship, is by far the most creative name! Referring to the floating ship used during the Euro 2004 Championship’s opening ceremony, sportscasters started calling them by that name during their opening match against Portugal. Australia’s national team, the Socceroos, couldn’t be more representative of the country – marrying soccer with kangaroos! But when it comes to sheer sweetness, fans of the local Everton club win hands down. They call their players ‘the Toffees’ after two toffee shops that were once there!

So, that’s the weird and colored, literal and creative, local and national, world of football team names!

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