With the UEFA Champions League round of 16 fast approaching, UEFA.com explains how to say those tricky names correctly.
London is around 150km from Calais, but the linguistic distances between English and French are huge when it comes to pronunciations, a situation which has led to generations of French Arsenal players having their names mangled on the terraces.
Héctor Bellerín – Hector Bay-air-een
Petr Čech – Pet-r Chekh
Francis Coquelin – Francis Cock-er-lan
Mathieu Debuchy – Mat-yur De-boo-she
Olivier Giroud – Olivier Gee-roo
Laurent Koscielny – Lo-ron Ko-sea-el-ni
Mesut Özil – Mesut Er-zil
Granit Xhaka – Granit Chaka
Basic rules: a ‘ć’ in the former Yugoslavian languages is a ‘ch’ and the ‘š’ is a ‘sh’. Antoine Griezmann’s surname has an extra syllable in it which most English speakers tend to miss.
Nicolás Gaitán – Guy-tan
Antoine Griezmann – An-twan Gree-ez-man
Koke – Ko-kay
Saúl Ñíguez – Sow-ool Nyee-gess
Stefan Savić – Sa-vich
Nicolás Schiappacasse – Ski-appa-cass-ey
Šime Vrsaljko – Shee-may Ver-sal-ko
Barcelona’s universal popularity has ironed out most pronunciation errors, but Lucas Digne is a tricky one and don’t forget that Ivan Rakitić’s ‘ć’ is a ‘ch’ for English speakers.
Lucas Digne – Loo-cah Dee-nyuh
Ivan Rakitić – Ra-key-titch
Manuel Neuer’s surname can be a problem for English-speakers, who tend to panic when they see more than two vowels in a row. For Robert Lewandowski, remember that the Polish ‘w’ is more like an English ‘v’.
Joshua Kimmich – Kim-ikh
Robert Lewandowski – Le-van-dov-ski
Manuel Neuer – Man-well Noy-er
The widespread assumption for English speakers that Portuguese is a bit like Spanish is one that should be challenged – the two languages sound very different. However, it is Benfica’s foreign signings that may prove the easiest to mispronounce.
Franco Cervi – Chair-vee
Ljubomir Fejsa – Fay-sa
Gonçalo Guedes – Gair-diss
Victor Lindelöf – Linda-love
German and English have plenty in common – and reassuringly, Marco Reus’s surname is very similar in pronunciation to the English surname ‘Royce’. Łukasz Piszczek’s name can also be rendered much less scary to English speakers by a phonetic translation, while pronouncing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s name the French way saves you a syllable – no small achievement in austere times. American-born Christian Pulišić does not pronounce his name the Croatian way.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Oh-bam-yong
Alexander Isak – Ee-sack
Łukasz Piszczek – Woo-cash Peesh-check
Christian Pulišić – Police-sick
Marco Reus – Royce
Nuri Şahin – Noo-ree Shah-hin
Roman Weidenfeller – Vye-den-feller
The Italian ‘ch’ is more like a ‘k’ for English speakers, whereas the Croatian ‘ć’ is an English ‘ch’. Gonzalo Higuaín’s name has three vowels in a row – a red light for English speakers – but can be anglicised elegantly enough. Croatia is just across the Adriatic from Italy, so imagine Marco Pjaca’s name as an Italian ‘piazza’ and you will be pretty much there.
Gianluigi Buffon – Boo-fon
Giorgio Chiellini – Kee-ell-ee-nee
Gonzalo Higuaín – Ee-gway-een
Mario Mandžukić – Man-joo-kitch
Claudio Marchisio – Mar-kee-sio
Marko Pjaca – Pee-at-za
Miralem Pjanić – Pee-ah-nitch
English fans have spent decades being proud of making the effort with Peter and then Kasper Schmeichel’s surname, but it seems we all got it wrong – they are not Shmai-kels but Smai-kels. Leonardo Ulloa’s name has lots of vowels and sounds nothing like it would naturally in English.
Robert Huth – Hoot
Bartosz Kapustka – Bar-tosh
Kasper Schmeichel – Smai-kel
Leonardo Ulloa – Lay-oh-nar-doe Oo-show-ah
Like its German counterpart, an umlauted Turkish ‘ö’ softens the vowel down to something like an English ‘er’. Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s surname is difficult, especially that ‘ğ’ – which is a softer version of a combative Scottish ‘och’. Take a deep breath and do not panic, and you can do it.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu – Chall-han-och-loo
Aleksandar Dragović – Drago-vitch
Tin Jedvaj – Yed-vye
Ramazan Özcan – Erz-jan
Joel Pohjanpalo – Po-hyan-pallo
Ömer Toprak – Er-mar Top-rukh
Most English-language commentators have worked out that Spanish speakers pronounce the name Jesús very differently to English ones. İlkay Gündoğan’s many accents can alarm, but imagine that ‘ğ’ as a very soft Scottish-style ‘och’ and you will get there.
Willy Caballero – Caba-yair-o
İlkay Gündoğan – Ilk-eye Gun-doch-wan
Jesús Navas – Hess-oos
Bacary Sagna – Sa-nyah
The Croatian ‘š’ and ‘č’ are effectively an English ‘sh’ and ‘ch’, Tiémoué Bakayoko’s name has a lot of vowels, and it transpires we have all been pronouncing João Moutinho’s name wrong for years.
Tiémoué Bakayoko – Tee-ay-moo-ay
João Moutinho – Joo-ow Mow-cheen-oo
Danijel Subašić – Sooba-shitch
Elseid Hysaj packs a lot of syllables into his 11-character name, while Vlad Chiricheş’s surname is full of ‘false friends’ for English speakers – the Romanian ‘ch’ is not the same as an English one. Marek Hamšík, meanwhile, is not sick of ham, as English speakers might hope.
Vlad Chiricheş – Kiri-kesh
Emanuele Giaccherini – Ja-care-ee-nee
Marek Hamšík – Ham-sheek
Elseid Hysaj – El-say-eed Hoo-sigh
Lorenzo and Roberto Insigne – In-scene-yer
Nikola Maksimović – Mak-sim-ov-itch
Ivan Strinić – Stree-nitch
Piotr Zieliński – Zhee-el-een-ski
The French language’s many vowels continue to frighten English speakers, with Polish names in the Paris squad intensifying that sense of Anglo-Saxon dread. Take heart: it is easier than it looks.
Serge Aurier – Or-ee-ay
Grzegorz Krychowiak – G-sheg-orsh Kri-ko-vyak
Layvin Kurzawa – Kur-zha-va
Thomas Meunier – Mer-nee-air
Years of effort have almost eradicated the English tendency to pronounce Iker Casillas’s first name as if he worked as an optician (eye care).
Iker Casillas – Ee-care Ca-see-yass
Jesús Corona – Hess-oos
Laurent Depoitre – Lo-ron Der-pwat-r
Pepe does not use that second vowel if you pronounce his name in Portuguese, while the ‘oo’ in Toni Kroos’s surname does not sound like English speakers would like it to. The Colombian pronounciation of the common English first name ‘James’ is also markedly different.
Dani Carvajal – Car-va-hal
Mateo Kovačić – Ko-va-chitch
Toni Kroos – Crows
Luka Modrić – Mod-rich
Pepe – Pep
James Rodríguez – Ha-mess
Benoît Trémoulinas’s name takes a bit of unpacking, and Daniel Carriço’s sounds a good deal softer in his native Portuguese than you would expect. English speakers meanwhile will be relieved that Thimothée Kolodziejczak was loaned out to Mönchengladbach during the winter break.
Daniel Carriço – Car-hiss-oh
Stevan Jovetić – Yo-veh-titch
Benoît Trémoulinas – Ben-wah Tray-moo-lee-nass