The World Cup has officially started in Brazil, which means the majority of the world will spend the next month glued to their TV screens, filled with patriotic pride- even in countries like the US, where soccer is slowly building a fan base. I highly suggest everyone watch because it’s a fairly simple sport to understand, fun to watch and the players, well, they aren’t terrible to look at. The favorites to win, in case you were wondering, are Germany and host country Brazil.
World Cup promotion aside, football/soccer is the world’s sport and with 32 countries from all corners of the earth involved in the finals, so interesting names are just waiting to be discovered. The full rosters, with both first and surnames included can be found on Fifa’s website, but some of the best are listed below. And you’ll find that some of the most popular naming trends in the U.S. are reflected on the rosters of several countries: Italian variations of our Top 100, Roman names, place names, and other trends can all be found on footballers.
Alessio-With Alex and Alexander firmly in the Top 200 of several countries, Alessio is the Italian version of that common name. Brother name Alessandro is on the rise, at 630 in the US Top 1000. Italy forward Alessio Cerci is a current bearer of the name.
Aurelien- While Aurelia is fairly popular amongst berries and Aurelius has starbaby cred via Elle MacPherson’s son, Aurelian (worn by Cameroon player Aurelien Chedjou) is a handsome, French variation of the Latin-rooted names. .
Austine- Nigeria goalkeeper Augustine “Austine” Ejide’s nickname sounds like a smoosh of Augustine and Austin, two names on complete opposite sides of the trend spectrum. Austine has a very sweet French sound, and is listed on Nameberry as a girl’s name, making it a viable option as a first name for either gender.
Jozy- Josie is the well-established feminine nickname of Josephine, but American player Jozy Altidore, born Josmer, may make Josie or Jozy an accessible nickname for boys named Joseph or a stand-alone name.
Leighton- Gossip Girl alum Leighton Meester made the moniker lean more on the girls’ side, but England defender Leighton Baines proves that this unisex name can be equally as handsome on boys as it is pretty on girls.
Milner- James Milner is actually the player with this surname. While James is always a handsome, solid choice, Milner makes a similar-but-different surname/occupation name that is equally as striking a first name as Miller.
Mix- Norwegian-born US player, Mikkel Diskerud goes solely by Mix, a nickname given to him by his mother. Mix would be a nice update on Michael nicknames Mike and Mikey. Mikkel is also an interesting alternative to Top 10 Michael.
Thiago- Thiago is worn by both Italy player, Thiago Motta, and Brazil’s captain, Thiago Silva. The name is reminiscent of Othello’s Iago, minus the negative Shakepearean connections, and one of the fastest rising names in 2013.
Valentin- Switzerland midfielder Valentin Stocker bears this notable Val-name. In the U.S. Top 1000, Valentin is more frequently used in Europe. The -tan ending somewhat separates the name from the Valentine’s Day association. Other sibling names are Valentina and Valentino.
Xabi-A possible alternative to Xavier, Xabi is worn by the handsome star of Spain’s reigning champions Xabi Alonso, also known as the Ginger Beard in his native country. It should be noted, though, the Basque name is pronounced as zsa-bee (think Zsa Zsa Gabor).
Maya Reyes-Solano is a high school senior who has loved names since discovering her parents’ name book at the age of ten. Now seventeen, she uses sites like Nameberry as a distraction from the SATs and anything else college-related.