Being an ex-pat sports fan in Australia fan can be a confusing affair. Mention the name Craig Bellamy to someone who’s been here less than a couple of years, and the words “Welsh twat” will almost inevitably spring to mind. But for anyone who’s been here longer, the phrase “Melbourne twat” will spring to mind instead. And don’t even get us started on Kevin Sheedy and Gary Ablett.
We’ve always dismissed these similar sporting names as a coincidence, but following a report this month that there’s been a surge in babies being named Neymar and Cristiano in England and Wales, we’re starting to wonder. Poor little buggers. Still, it’s better than being called Wayne.
Football becomes a name game – as there were also six Zicos born last year, as well as three Beckhams and 16 Zidanes. There were even 105 babies named Luis (and three called Suarez). Ironically, they’ll probably be teething about now.
Of the 23 players shortlisted for the 2013 Ballon d’Or award, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski were both the highest represented by newborns in England and Wales, although it’s unlikely that many of the 4591 new Toms were named in tribute to the great gangly German.
But of course, there are worse-named footballers to be christened after – which is basically an excuse for us to list (and laugh at) some of them again. Congolese striker Christ Bongo, for example, had a reasonably successful career in Germany, then there’s Marseille player and former France international Rod Fanni (which sounds more like something you do than a name) and of course there’s former Socceroos goalkeeper Norman Conquest. There’s also former Dutch right-back Huuj Throbbin Dong, which would be a highly amusing name had we not just made it up.