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How to pronounce the UEFA EURO 2020 players' names correctly

To celebrate a continent-wide festival of football, get to grips with the most difficult player names at UEFA EURO 2020.

Mat-ice Dull-icht
Mat-ice Dull-icht UEFA via Getty Images

The presence of plenty of foreign players at the top levels of football in the British Isles has done something to raise locals' awareness that not all names can be pronounced as if they were English.

The advent of UEFA EURO 2020 means that English speakers all around the world now have to get to grips with a lot of complicated-looking names, and combinations of vowels and consonants that seem alien. Don't be afraid: join us and learn how to pronounce all the players' names right.

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AUSTRIA

Basic German-language rules apply – note that an umlauted 'ä', 'ö' or 'ü' sounds something similar to 'ae', 'oe', 'ue' in English.

Stefan Lainer – Liner
Philipp Lienhart – Leen-hart
Alessandro Schöpf – Sherpf
Karim Onisiwo – Onni-see-vo
Sasa Kalajdzic – Sasha Kal-ide-jitch

BELGIUM

Tee-bo Cor-twa
Tee-bo Cor-twaAFP via Getty Images

Some names are pronounced the Flemish way, and some the French way.

Toby Alderweireld – Al-der-way-reld
Michy Batshuayi – Bat-shoe-a-yi
Timothy Castagne – Cast-an-yuh
Thibaut Courtois – Tee-bo Cor-twa
Thomas Meunier – Muh-nee-ay
Simon Mignolet – Min-yo-lay
Thomas Vermaelen – Ver-mah-len

CROATIA

Basic rules: 'š' is a 'sh', 'č' and 'ć' are a bit like an English 'ch', and 'j' approximates to an English 'y'.

Milan Badelj – Bad-el-ee
Luka Ivanušec – Eevan-oo-shets
Mislav Oršić – Orsh-itch
Šime Vrsaljko – Shi-may Ver-sal-ee-ko

CZECH REPUBLIC

Accents on vowels indicate where the pronunciation should be stressed (so ‘Tomáš’ is more like ‘Tom-aash’ for English speakers). An 'š' is a 'sh', a 'č' is a 'ch', but 'c' is more like a 'ts'. And 'ř' is a bit like 'rj' in English.

Jan Bořil – Yan Borjil
Ondřej Čelůstka – Ondjay Chell-oost-ka
Adam Hložek – H-lozhek
Tomáš Holeš – Hollesh
Pavel Kadeřábek – Kadder-jah-beck
Aleš Matějů – Alesh Mattay-oo
Jiří Pavlenka – Yeer-zhee
Jakub Pešek – Pesheck
Petr Ševčík – Shev-cheek
Tomáš Vaclík – Vatz-leek

DENMARK

Pierre-Emile Hoy-byer
Pierre-Emile Hoy-byerUEFA via Getty Images

That ‘æ’ character is widely misunderstood among English speakers, while a ‘g’ tends to be much softer than it looks.

Simon Kjær – Care
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg – Hoy-byer
Jonas Lössl – Yo-nass Lussel
Joakim Mæhle – May-leh
Frederik Rønnow – Rern-oh

ENGLAND

All pretty simple.

FINLAND

Vowels and accents can make a language more treacherous than it first appears (a Finnish ‘ä’ sounds much like the English ‘a’ in ‘hat’).

Nikolai Alho – Arl-hoh
Paulus Arajuuri – Ara-yoo-ree
Jasin Assehnoun – Asser-known
Nicholas Hämäläinen – Hama-lay-nen
Lukas Hradecky – Lukash Radetski
Juhani Ojala – O-yalla
Teemu Pukki – Pooky
Sauli Väisänen – Vay-san-en

FRANCE

On-twan Gree-ez-man
On-twan Gree-ez-manAFP via Getty Images

The vowels often confound English speakers. So do the consonants.

Lucas Digne – Loo-cah Dee-nyuh
Olivier Giroud – Ol-iv-ee-eh Ji-roo
Antoine Griezmann – On-twan Gree-ez-man
N'Golo Kanté – N-go-lo Kon-tay
Clément Lenglet – Long-lay
Steve Mandanda – Stev Mon-don-dah
Mike Meignan – Mane-yoh
Marcus Thuram – Too-ram

GERMANY

An umlaut on 'ä', 'ö' or 'ü' is comparable to 'ae', 'oe', 'ue' in English. Note: Joshua Kimmich – 'ich' as in "ich bin ein Berliner" rather than Baby You're A Rich Man.

Manuel Neuer – Noy-ah
İlkay Gündoğan – Eel-kay Goon-doe-wan
Emre Can – Jan
Joshua Kimmich – Kim-ikh

HUNGARY

One of the few European languages that do not belong to the Indo-European group, Hungarian is not as percussive-sounding as it looks.

Tamás Cseri – Tom-ash Cherry
Dénes Dibusz – Day-nesh Di-boos
Péter Gulácsi – Pay-ter Goo-lat-chi
Ákos Kecskés – Ah-kosh Ketch-kay-sh
Gergő Lovrencsics – Ger-gur Lov-ren-chitch
Ádám Nagy – Nah-dge
Szabolcs Schön – Saw-bolch Shern
Attila Szalai – Saw-law-ee

ITALY

The commonly-made mistake is to pronounce a 'ch' like an English 'ch' – it is more like a 'k'. Lorenzo Insigne is a tough one to get spot on – linguists may note that his 'gn' works like a Spanish 'ñ'.

Federico Bernardeschi – Ber-nar-desk-ee
Giorgio Chiellini – Jor-joe Key-eh-lean-ee
Federico Chiesa – Kee-ay-sah
Alessio Cragno – Cran-yo
Lorenzo Insigne – In-sin-yuh

NETHERLANDS

Georginio Why-naldum
Georginio Why-naldumUEFA via Getty Images

The gg sound is like the Scottish 'loch'. The ‘ij’ doesn’t have a direct English equivalent, but is softer than the 'i' sound in 'fine' (and more like the Scottish 'aye', or 'why'). The 'ou' is more pronounced than the English 'out' – it’s like 'ah-ou' run together; so think of the 'ow' when you bang your elbow on a doorframe.

Steven Bergwijn – Stay-ven Berugg-why-n
Matthijs de Ligt – Mat-ice Dull-icht
Marten de Roon – Der-own
Stefan de Vrij – Stay-fon Duh-fray
Quincy Promes – Pro-mess
Wout Weghorst – Vowt Vegg-horst
Georginio Wijnaldum – Why-naldum
Owen Wijndal – Whyne-dal

NORTH MACEDONIA

North Macedonian names are transliterated from the Cyrillic alphabet so the hard work should have been done for you, but there are a few hazardous ones out there.

Visar Musliu – Moos-lyoo
Vlatko Stojanovski – Stoyan-ovski
Aleksandar Trajkovski – Try-kovski
Ivan Trickovski – Tritch-kovski

POLAND

Robert Lev-and-ov-ski
Robert Lev-and-ov-skiUEFA via Getty Images

Polish is a much softer-sounding language than all the 'k's and 'z's would suggest. A 'Ł' or 'ł' is rather like an English 'w', while the subscript accent on an 'ę' or an 'ą' subtly adds an 'n' to the vowel. The Polish 'ch' is a 'kh' sound, like in Kazakhstan.

Bartosz Bereszyński – Berresh-in-skee
Paweł Dawidowicz – Dav-id-ov-itch
Łukasz Fabiański – Woo-cash Fab-yan-ski
Kamil Jóźwiak – Yoz-vee-ak
Tomasz Kędziora – Kend-zyor-a
Dawid Kownacki – Kov-nats-kee
Kacper Kozłowski – Kos-lov-skee
Robert Lewandowski – Lev-and-ov-ski
Kamil Piątkowski – Pyont-kov-skee
Przemysław Płacheta – Pwa-khetta
Tymoteusz Puchacz – Pook-atch
Jakub Świerczok – Shfair-chock
Wojciech Szczęsny – Voy-chekh Sh-chen-sni

PORTUGAL

Contrary to what most English speakers imagine, Portuguese sounds very different to Spanish. The 'r' at the start of Rui or Renato is a little bit like a rolled 'r' in French. The second vowels in 'Lopes' and 'Neves' get squashed down into a 'sh' – e.g. Lopsh, Nevsh.

Anthony Lopes – Lopsh
Bruno Fernandes – Fur-nandsh
Diogo Jota – Dee-ohg Zhotta
Gonçalo Guedes – Gon-sarlo Gair-diss
Raphael Guerreiro – Ge-ray-ro
João Félix – Joo-wow Fay-lix
João Moutinho – Joo-wow Mo-teen-oo
João Palhinha – Joo-wow Pal-een-a
Pedro Gonçalves – Gon-salvsh
Pepe – Pep (not 'Pep-eh')
Rúben Neves – Nevsh

RUSSIA

Meet the teams: Russia
Meet the teams: Russia

Vowel sounds and the way they are stressed present the biggest challenges for English speakers, with common first names often not sounding exactly like their transcribed equivalents – hence Igor = Igar, Roman = Raman, Denis = Dinis, Oleg = Aleg. Surnames ending in 'ov' sound like 'off'.

Igor Diveev – Div-ay-ev
Artem Dzyuba – Dzyoo-ba
Aleksei Ionov – Ee-o-noff
Andrei Semenov – Se-myo-noff

SCOTLAND

Most native English speakers will be on safe ground.

Jon McLaughlin – Mag-loch-lin
Kieran Tierney – Teer-knee

SLOVAKIA

Rules similar to Czech: an 'š' is a 'sh', a 'č' is a 'ch', but a 'c' is more like a 'ts'. Meanwhile, 'Ď' – with its superscript accent – sounds something like the 'dg' in 'hedge'.

Michal Ďuriš – Djoo-rish
Marek Hamšík – Ham-sheek
Patrik Hrošovský – Hroshov-skee
Tomáš Hubočan – Hoo-bo-chan
Dušan Kuciak – Koo-tsee-ack
Juraj Kucka – Koots-ka
Milan Škriniar – Shkrin-ee-ar
Dávid Strelec – Strell-ets

SPAIN

César Ath-pili-coo-et-a
César Ath-pili-coo-et-aUEFA via Getty Images

Getting it right is tough for the uninitiated, but the following pronunciations may get you a bit closer. César Azpilicueta's Chelsea team-mates famously nicknamed him 'Dave' to avoid the difficulty of saying his surname.

César Azpilicueta – Ath-pili-coo-et-a
Sergio Busquets – Boo-skets
David de Gea – De-hay-eh
Diego and Marcos Llorente – Lorentay

SWEDEN

That ‘g’ at the end of surnames sounds a lot like an English ‘y’; the 'j' also sounds like a 'y', while the first 'o' in many surnames is pronounced more akin to a 'u'. Where there's an 'rs' combo, it is an English 'sh'.

Marcus Berg – Berry
Emil Forsberg – Fosh-berry
Sebastian Larsson – La-shon
Victor Lindelöf – Lin-de-love
Robin Olsen – Ul-sen
Mattias Svanberg – Svan-berry

SWITZERLAND

In addition to Switzerland's mix of native languages – French, Swiss German and Italian – the prominence of players with Albanian, Kosovar and Turkish roots makes things even more exciting.

Eray Cömert – Jo-mert
Breel Embolo – Brail
Becir Omeragic – Bess-eer Omer-adjitch
Fabian Schär – Share
Xherdan Shaqiri – Jer-dan Sha-chee-ree
Granit Xhaka – Jakka

TURKEY

Cha-la Ser-yoon-choo
Cha-la Ser-yoon-chooUEFA via Getty Images

Umlauts do a similar job as in the Germanic languages, making an 'ş' a little like an English 'sh' and a 'c' more like a 'j'. The problem characters are the 'ğ' and the dotless 'ı' – both of which are very subtle sounds.

Kerem Aktürkoğlu – Actur-koch-loo
Altay Bayındır – Baynder
Uğurcan Çakır – Ooroojan Chak-r
Hakan Çalhanoğlu – Chalha-no-loo
Zeki Çelik – Cheleek
Halil İbrahim Dervişoğlu – Darvish-oh-loo
İrfan Can Kahveci – Car-vay-jee
Efecan Karaca – Efferjan Karaja
Orkun Kökçü – Kerk-choo
Çağlar Söyüncü – Cha-la Ser-yoon-choo
Yusuf Yazıcı – Yaz-idger

UKRAINE

Transcribed – like Russian – from the Cyrillic alphabet, Ukrainian is notably easier to pronounce. Names largely sound like they look in print. The number of 'y's might throw some English speakers, so it's worth noting that they can generally be treated as English 'i's. An 'iy' is approximately the same as an English 'ee' – hence 'Andriy' = 'Und-ree'. A 'ts' sounds like it does in Tsunami.

Heorhii Sudakov – Georgie
Viktor Tsygankov – Tsee-gan-koff

WALES

Mostly straightforward, but just in case ...

Chris Mepham – Mepp-um