How to pronounce the players' names correctly
Monday, February 12, 2018
English speakers tend to mangle foreign names; UEFA.com cracks more rocks of ignorance and makes the toughest round of 16 players' names seem simple.
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UEFA.com's ongoing mission to ensure that the world's football fans get the players' names right continues as the round of 16 commences; take a deep breath and try these.
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. Also worth mentioning that 'Lionel' is not pronounced the same in Spanish as in English.
Paco Alcácer – Al-kA-ther
José Arnaiz – Are-nice
Lucas Digne – Loo-cah Dee-nyuh
Lionel Messi – Lee-oh-nell
Ivan Rakitić – Ra-key-titch
Thomas Vermaelen – Ver-mah-len
Albanian names can cause some problems; it's also worth remembering for Basel's goalkeeper that a Czech 'c' without an accent is more like a 'ts'.
Albian Ajeti – A-yeti
Léo Lacroix – Lack-wah
Dimitri Oberlin – Oh-bear-lan
Geoffroy Serey Dié – Serray Dee-ay
Marek Suchý – Sook-hee
Tomáš Vaclík – Tom-arsh Vats-leak
Taulant Xhaka – Tow (to rhyme with cow)-lant Jacka
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, note that the Polish 'w' is more like an English 'v'. Up-and-coming forward Kwasi Okyere Wriedt is better known by the first name 'Otschi' (phonetically: Ot-she).
Joshua Kimmich – Kim-ikh
Robert Lewandowski – Le-van-dov-ski
Kwasi Okyere Wriedt – V-reet
James Rodríguez – Ha-mess Rod-rEE-geth
Manuel Neuer – Man-well Noy-er
Sven Ulreich – Ool-rike
The accents on Turkish player names can be daunting, but pronunciation is not impossible. Fans and commentators in Turkey generally use players' first names rather than second, which can make things easier. The Turkish 'c' sounds more like an English 'j', and as for the club's name, it is Besh-eek-tash.
Caner Erkin – Janner
Gökhan Gönül – Gern-ool
Cyle Larin – Kile La-rin
Oğuzhan Özyakup – Oh-zyan Erz-ya-koop
Duško Tošić – Doosh-ko Tosh-itch
Necip Uysal – Neh-jip Oo-sal
Domagoj Vida – Dom-a-goy Vee-dah
Most fans in the UK have these correct, but it is worth considering that, for French speakers, N'Golo Kanté's surname sounds the same as Antonio Conte's does to English ears.
César Azpilicueta – Ath-pili-coo-et-ah
Gary Cahill – Kay-hill
Thibaut Courtois – Tib-oh Cort-wah
Olivier Giroud – Jee-roo
Eden Hazard – Ay-den
N'Golo Kanté – Con-tay
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.
Federico Bernardeschi – Bernard-ess-kee
Gianluigi Buffon – Boo-fon
Giorgio Chiellini – Kee-ell-ee-nee
Paulo Dybala – Dee-bar-lah
Gonzalo Higuaín – Ee-gway-een
Mario Mandžukić – Man-joo-kitch
Claudio Marchisio – Mar-kee-sio
Miralem Pjanić – Pee-ah-nitch
Wojciech Szczęsny – Voy-check Schen-snee
Emre Can – Jan
Simon Mignolet – See-mon Min-yo-lay
Georginio Wijnaldum – Why-nal-dum
İlkay Gündoğan's many accents can alarm, yet it is easier than it looks; Kevin De Bruyne's name is still routinely mispronounced to rhyme with the English word 'coin'. For extra pronunciation kudos, try saying Sergio Agüero's name as if the 'g's were 'k's.
Kevin De Bruyne – De Bruh-nah
İlkay Gündoğan – Ilk-eye Gun-doe-wan
Gabriel Jesús – Jay-zooss
Aymeric Laporte – Em-rick
Davide De Gea – De Hayer
Victor Lindelöf – Linda-love
Anthony Martial – Mar-see-al
The French language's many vowels continue to confound English speakers. Take heart: it is simpler than it looks. Yuri Berchiche is from the Basque Country, meaning a very different pronunciation from what French speakers might expect.
Yuri Berchiche – Bare-chee-chay
Layvin Kurzawa – Kur-zha-va
Giovani Lo Celso – Gee-oh-var-ni Low Sell-so
Marquinhos – Mar-keen-yoss
Thomas Meunier – Mur-nee-ay
Adrien Rabiot – Ad-ree-an Rab-yo
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
Gonçalo Paciência – Gon-sah-lo Passy-en-sia
Jorge Teixeira – Tay-shay-ra
The 'oo' in Toni Kroos's surname does not sound like English speakers would like it to.
Dani Carvajal – Car-va-hal
Dani Ceballos – Theb-eye-oss
Mateo Kovačić – Ko-va-chitch
Toni Kroos – Crows
Luka Modrić – Mod-rich
Andrea Ciofi – Choffee
Edin Džeko – Jecko
Radja Nainggolan – Nine-go-lon
Cengiz Ünder – Jen-giss Oon-dah
Daniel Carriço's name sounds a good deal softer in his native Portuguese than you might anticipate.
Daniel Carriço – Car-hiss-oh
Simon Kjær – Care
Clément Lenglet – Clay-mon Long-lay
Nicolás Pareja – Pa-reck-ha
Ukrainian names are transcribed from Cyrillic into the Latin alphabet phonetically, so names sound pretty much as they look – though bear in mind that the Ukrainian 'h' (as in Bohdan, Serhiy, Oleh) is more like a 'kh' for English speakers. Shakhtar's new Brazilian right-back is a 'dudu' and not a 'dodo'.
Dodô – Du-du
Yaroslav Rakitskiy – Rack-its-key
The spelling is not the usual one in English, but 'Dier' is pronounced the same as the more common 'Dyer' – and not 'dee-ay' as some may be tempted to try.
Toby Alderweireld – Al-der-vay-reld
Serge Aurier – Or-ee-ay
Eric Dier – Die-er