Arsenal – The Gunners
Arsenal were founded by armament workers in 1886 in Woolwich, an area of south-east London then associated with the military. Hence the name Arsenal, the cannon on the badge and, for consistency’s sake, nickname.
Atlético – Los Colchoneros (The Mattress Makers)
In the post-civil war period in Spain, mattresses had a uniform design of red and white stripes, making this material cheap. Atlético promptly ditched their blue and white and in an instant became the mattress makers.
Barcelona – Barça, Blaugrana (Blue and Reds), Culés (Bottoms)
Barça is most common, Blaugrana most obvious but Culés most interesting. It is often applied to fans, and stems from a tale of supporters unable to find seats at the old Les Corts stadium. They would instead sit on the walls of the ground, unwittingly exposing their behinds to passers-by.
Bayern – Die Roten (The Reds)
Six years after being established in 1900, Bayern linked up with the Münchner Sport-Club in order to use their pitch and facilities. There was just one condition: they had to swap their black shorts for red. Bayern have been Die Roten ever since.
Benfica – Águias (Eagles)
From the eagle that tops Benfica’s badge since their formation in 1904, a symbol of independence, authority and nobility. The club currently has two bald eagles, Vitória (Victory) and Glória (Glory). Before home games one of them flies around the stadium before landing on the club crest.
Dortmund – Die Schwarz-Gelben (The Black and Yellows)
Dortmund once wore red, white and blue but switched in 1913 following serious lobbying from future club president August Busse. Yellow and black were the colours of Britannia, a side that had merged with Dortmund a few years earlier. For a while they were known as ‘The Lemons’.
Juventus – Vecchia Signora (Old Lady)
There is debate around the origins of this one, but most believe it comes from the Agnelli family who bought the club in the 1920s. They wanted to evoke a sophisticated style, ‘lo stile Juve’, so opted for the chic of an old noblewoman.
Leicester – The Foxes
Leicestershire is the birthplace of fox hunting (now mainly illegal in the UK) and the nickname was adopted in 1920. Players walk out onto the pitch beneath the motto ‘Foxes Never Quit’.
Leverkusen – Die Werkself (The Works Team)
Leverkusen started out as the company side of pharmaceutical giants Bayer, and were set up in 1904 following a petition signed by 170 workers.
Manchester City – Citizens, The Sky Blues
Citizens is an extension of City (club members are now called Cityzens); Sky Blues obviously owes to the colour of their home shirts.
Monaco – Les Rouges et Blancs (The Red and Whites)
It doesn’t suffer from overuse, but Red and Whites is taken from the club colours, which are themselves taken from the flag of the principality – which in turn borrows heavily from the heraldic colours of the ruling House of Grimaldi.
Napoli – Partenopei
From the old name of the city, Parthenope. In Greek mythology Parthenope was one of the Sirens who cast herself into the sea and drowned when her singing failed to entice Ulysses. The city was named in her honour as legend had it that her body washed up on the small island of Megaride.
Paris Saint-Germain – PSG
Editors eager to avoid repetition occasionally dub them Les Rouge-et-Bleu (The Red and Blue) or Les Parisiens (The Parisians) but French football loves a good acronym.
Porto – Dragões (Dragons)
The dragon has been a symbol of Porto since the 19th Century, representing fighting spirit and invincibility. Porto adopted it on their club crest in 1922 at the suggestion of former player Augusto Baptista Ferreira.
Real Madrid – Merengues
A Spanish radio commentator started it when he likened their white shirts to meringues. A writer for British newspaper The Times is credited for a less common moniker, Vikingos, after comparing Madrid’s 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European Cup final in Glasgow to the Viking invasion of Europe.
Sevilla – Palanganas (Washbasins)
Another label of unsure provenance. One explanation is that the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjúan resembles a washbasin. Another has it that washbasins in the early 20th century were white with a red lining, mimicking the club’s colours.