Eight footballers who changed their names – Gazza, Pele, Jonathan Woodgate…

Crazy and wonderful are just two words to describe the absolute legend Paul Gascoigne.

These words can also be used in connection with his name change to G8 – they represent the first letter of his surname and the number he often wore on the football pitch.

England’s former number eight said of the renaming in an interview with The Guardian in 2005: “Gazza is sort of my official name but all my friends call me G8 but Paul or whatever is fine. G8 is just a name my little niece made this up. It is good. But Gazza or G8 are fine.”

It didn’t stick, but most of the next seven’s name changes did, even if the players didn’t want it to.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento-Pele

It’s not uncommon for Brazilian footballers to abbreviate their names for convenience, but we’ve picked the most famous one as his real name – Edson Arantes do Nascimento – has nothing to do with his famous football alias.

Pele came about after the youngster was poked fun at for pronouncing his favorite player Bile’s name as “Pele”.

So a self-inflicted choice of name, but one that has cult status worldwide and will remain so for many years to come.

Ben Brereton – Ben Brereton Diaz

The Blackburn Rovers forward found he was eligible to play for Chile after Football Manager players noted the connection through his mother, who is from the country.

When he made his Chilean debut, he first used “brereton diaz”, Spanish names containing both the mother’s and father’s surnames. In July 2021 he said he would also use the Brereton Diaz on the back of his shirt at club level to bring some South American flair to the Championship.

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It seems to have worked. The Stoke-on-Trent-born striker has scored 21 goals this season, by far his most successful season, and is attracting interest from the Premier League.

Andy Cole – Andrew Cole

Man Utd Andrew Cole 94-95

He will always be familiar to those of us who remember him in his prime as Andy Cole.

However, in the 2000/01 season, Manchester United had a new name on their squad list: Andrew Cole.

Many stories abound as to the reasons for his conversion, from a religious awakening and a need to be taken more seriously to an embarrassing masturbation incident involving Teddy Sheringham.

However, it turns out to be much more mundane. Cole was once asked what his parents call him, to which he replied Andrew. This was then misinterpreted as a request from Cole to be referred to as Andrew henceforth.

Whatever the reasoning, Andrew Cole’s top scorer record was no better than Andy’s.

Givanildo Vieira de Sousa – Hulk

The Brazilian striker started out as Givanildo Vieira de Sousa and is another player for whom his name change story has taken on a life of its own.

One of which is that he changed his name in 2010 to match his creepy physique.

Another reason is his resemblance to Lou Ferrigno, the bodybuilder/actor who played the Incredible Hulk in the American TV series.

The truth is rather banal, but it is related to the television series. His father was a huge fan and bestowed the nickname on his young son. Unlike Gazza’s G8, this one stuck.

Joan Roman Goku

Not a famous name in footballing circles but an intriguing name change, to say the least, for the former Barcelona and Manchester City youth player.

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The winger formerly known as Joan Roman changed his name to Goku, the main character in the Japanese anime show Dragon Ball, in 2020.

“I’m grateful to Joan for what I lived, for all the positive things he left me, but now I’m Goku,” he wrote on Instagram after changing his first name.

I chose this name because I feel identified with its values ​​and what it represents to me: perseverance, empathy, growth against obstacles, light and positivity.”

It also looks way cooler on the back of a shirt than Joan.

Dele Alli – Delete

Jose Mourinho and Dele Alli

He appeared on stage as Dele Alli, which was short for his full name, Bamidele Alli.

However, as of August 2016, the Tottenham midfielder, currently on loan at Everton, only uses his first name on the back of his football shirts.

His rationale for the move is that he has no connection to his surname “Alli” as he has no connection to the paternal side of the family.

Jonathan Woodgate – Jonathon Woodgate – Jonathan Woodgate

Jonathan Woodgate Leeds Jan02

One guaranteed to have editors tripping all over the place, there was a time when the former Leeds, Newcastle and Real Madrid defender was listed as Jonathon everywhere.

However, we have to go ahead for this rumor.

Apparently he was asked if his surname was spelled with an ‘o’ or an ‘a’ after joining the first-team at Leeds. He replied, “‘O’, of course,” and looked confused. He later complained to the club’s press officer about the way his name was spelled, and only then noticed that the journalists were referring to the last vowel in his name, not the first.

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