Which names will capture the imagination? The World Cup has given us some memorable names over the years. Who are the contenders this year?
The commentary genius of Peter Brackley and Kenneth Wolstenholme in the early 90s added another dimension to World Cup football matches.
The poetic way in which exotic foreign names (amongst the rest) were effortlessly pronounced with some verve was enthralling. Hagi, Letchkov, Babangida, Lallas, Blanco, Mahdavikia, Baggio, Owairan, the list is endless. As a kid, numerous, seemingly endless summer afternoons were spent playing football self commentating. We used to give each other names; you be Hagi, shotgun Stoichkov.
I don't think it'd be a stretch of the imagination to suggest that the youth of today will be doing something similar this summer. So turning back the clock and putting on my football sticker collecting child hat, here are my top ten "cool" football names.
10- Hulk, Hulk, Hulk, Hulk.
You wouldn't like him when he's angry. The Brazilian forward is built like a tank and has the superhero looks to go with the physique. With Roberto Carlos-esque thighs and a left foot not too dissimilar from the legendary full back Hulk is armed with a fiercely thunderous shot. I just feel sorry for the defenders in free kick walls as he lines one up. The name more relevantly is nothing but epic.
9- The Ox
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is England's answer to Edgar Davids. His tenacity combined with pace and power will inspire the next generation of footballers. England fans will be hoping he recovers quickly from his latest injury. His name's likely to be doing the rounds at football fields across England over the summer.
Beckham, Del Piero and Roberto Baggio were just a few players we imitated as kids when taking free kicks. It's difficult to look past Pirlo these days. Sprinting away screaming the name and extending the vowel makes it sound that much sweeter.
7- Vincent Kompany
Rule number one in park football, when shattered, play in defence. Aldair was a popular choice but I always preferred Fernando Couto. A fantastic name that just rolled off the tongue just before a crunching tackle. Kompany's name has a similar ring to it. His commanding physical presence is likely to make a mark on future centre backs looking to emulate him. For now, adopting his name will suffice for budding "tired" young footballers across Rio's streets and beyond.
6- Ciro Immobile
Everyone likes a surprise package. Within days Michael Owen was a household name around the world in 1998. Ciro Immobile has the ability to make a similar impact. Serie A's top goal scorer last season has a name every commentator will lay into should he score. His playing style is a strange mix of Totti's skill and Inzaghi's goal poaching tendencies. Italian fans will hope he's more mobile on the pitch than his name suggests. The young Italian could form a potent partnership with Balotelli should Prandelli decide to field them both in the team.
Ibrahim Ba was a great player in his heyday. Zidane would spread it wide to him on the right and off he'll go on his mazy runs. What a name as well. Alas France have a new Ba in the ranks, Pogba. It probably wasn't long ago he a kid playing in some Manchester park imitating his namesake (kind of). Now he's the one French kids will be imitating.
4- Super Mario
Regardless of what the media make of him, Mario Balotelli is a firm favourite with the young'uns. A carefree swagger and irrefutable world class talent aside, the AC Milan forward's name is a commentators dream. Just ask this Italian pundit Tiziano Crudeli.
The one player every neutral football fan wants to see lifting the Jules Rimet trophy in Brazil. There's not much to say that hasn't been said already. Except perhaps that no one in the world gets more excited by his goals and name than Arabic commentators.
A different Ronaldo was idolised ten years ago. The current generation are blessed with one of their own. The sensational nature of a great football name however remains. There's no logic to it, it just is. If anyone finds it difficult to understand why, perhaps these Portugese commentators can convince you. Once again, there's absolutely nothing lost in translation here.
Who are your favourite World Cup names, past or present? Feel free to leave a comment.