From Dunga to Kaká to Pelé, nicknames abound among Brazil’s soccer stars. But even in a place where players’ celebrity is unparalleled, few would know their real names.
Brazil may take soccer more seriously than any other nation on Earth. This year, Brazil’s team is the highest-ranked squad in the World Cup, and its star—Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite—is arguably the most talented player on the planet. But even in Brazil, where his celebrity is unparalleled, few would recognize the name Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite. They know him as “Kaká,” a nickname that evolved from a younger brother’s attempt to pronounce “Ricardo.”
As he grew famous, Mr. dos Santos Leite amended the original spelling of his nickname, Cacá, to Kaká; the word ‘Cacá’ being an accent away from Brazilian slang for feces.
Although nicknames pervade Brazilian society, it comes as no surprise the best-known world-wide have been soccer players. Brazil has won more World-Cup championships than any other country. Ever heard of Edson Arantes do Nascimento—the man widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time? How about his more-famous nickname—Pelé? A member of three of Brazil’s five World Cup-winning squads, he reportedly received the nickname as a child, when he mispronounced the name of a goalkeeper called Bile.
A controversial figure in Brazil just now is Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, the national coach whose player selections have sparked reaction even from a member of the nation’s highest court, according to the Wall Street Journal. But most participants in that debate have no idea who Mr. Bledorn Verri is. He is known only as “Dunga” to football fans, which is the Brazilian name given to the dwarf “Dopey” in Snow White. Many remain mystified by Coach Dunga’s decision to leave off the team two young stars named Paulo Henrique Chagas de Lima and Alexandre Rodrigues da Silva.
Of course, nobody knows them by those names. They’re known as “Ganso” (Goose) and “Pato” (Duck).
What’s your Brazilian soccer star name? Found out HERE.