Eight footballers who have changed their names - Gazza, Pele, Jonathan Woodgate

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Wacky and wonderful are just two words that can be used to describe the absolute legend that is Paul Gascoigne. Those words can also be used in the context of his name change to G8 - representing the first letter of his surname and the number he often donned on the football pitch. England's former number eight had this to say in an interview with The Guardian about the rebrand in 2005: "Gazza's sort of my official name but all my friends call me G8, but Paul or whatever is fine. G8 is just a name that my little niece came up with. It's good. But Gazza or G8 are fine."

It didn't stick, but most of the next seven's name changes did, even when the players didn't want them to.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento - Pele

It is not uncommon for Brazilian footballers to shorten their names for ease, but we've picked out the most famous as his real name - Edson Arantes do Nascimento - is completely unrelated to his famous footballing alias. Pele came about after the youngster was made fun of for pronouncing the name of his favourite player, Bile, as 'Pele'. So a self-inflicted name choice, but one that is iconic globally and will continue to be for many years.

Ben Brereton - Ben Brereton Diaz

The Blackburn Rovers striker found out he was eligible to play for Chile after Football Manager players noticed the connection through his mother, who is from the country. He first started using 'Brereton Diaz' when he made his Chile debut, with Spanish names incorporating both the mother's and father's surnames. In July 2021 he said that he would also use the Brereton Diaz on the back of his shirt at club level too, bringing some South American flair to the Championship.

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

Andy Cole - Andrew Cole

Man Utd Andrew Cole 94-95
Man Utd Andrew Cole 94-95

He will always be known 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 teamsheet: Andrew Cole. There have been plenty of stories circulating about the reasoning behind his conversion, from a religious awakening and the need to be taken more seriously to an embarrassing masurbation incident involving Teddy Sheringham. However, it turns out it is much more mundane than that. Cole was once asked what his parents call him, to which he replied Andrew. This was then misinterpreted as a plea from Cole to be referred to as Andrew from then on. Whatever the reasoning, Andrew Cole's goalscoring record wasn't a patch on Andy's.

Givanildo Vieira de Sousa - Hulk

The Brazilian forward started out life as Givanildo Vieira de Sousa and is another player for whom the story of his name change has taken on a life of its own. One of those is that he changed his name to match his scary physique in 2010. Another, that it's down to his likeness to Lou Ferrigno, the bodybuilder/actor who played the Incredible Hulk in the American TV series. The truth is rather more mundane but is related to the TV series. His dad was a huge fan and bestowed the moniker 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.

Previously known as Joan Roman, the winger changed his name in 2020 to Goku, the main character in Japanese anime show Dragon Ball. "I am grateful to Joan for what I have lived, for all the positive things he left me, but now I am Goku," he wrote on Instagram after changing his first name. I chose that 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 much cooler on the back of a shirt than Joan.

Dele Alli - Dele

Jose Mourinho and Dele Alli
Jose Mourinho and Dele Alli

He burst on to the scene as Dele Alli, which was short for his full name of Bamidele Alli.

However, since August 2016, the Tottenham midfielder - currently on loan at Everton - has only been using his first name on the back of his football shirts.

His reasoning behind the move is that he has no connection to his surname 'Alli' given that he does not have any relationship with his father's side of the family.

Jonathan Woodgate - Jonathon Woodgate - Jonathan Woodgate

Jonathan Woodgate Leeds Jan02
Jonathan Woodgate Leeds Jan02

One guaranteed to trip up sub-editors everywhere, there was a period when the former Leeds, Newcastle and Real Madrid defender was listed everywhere as Jonathon. We have to go on rumour for this one, though. Apparently after breaking into the first team at Leeds, he was asked if his surname was spelt with an 'o' or an 'a'. He replied "'O', of course," looking confused.He later complained to the club's press officer at the way his name was being spelt and only then did he realise the journalists were referring to the last vowel in his name, not the first.

The article Eight footballers who have changed their names - Gazza, Pele, Jonathan Woodgate… appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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