The Names of the Games
This list has been complied without the assistance of logic or rationale. It contains random athletes plucked from the sporting landscape whose names somehow impact on how they play their respective sports, or at the very least, conjure phonetic jizzum from commentators every time they get the ball. But for reasons that will never be completely clear, even to me, these are indisputably the best named men in sports…
10. Joost van der Westhuizen – Whenever I read his name, I hear the voice of Gordon Bray pronouncing it in such a way that excitement builds with every syllable. That is precisely what happened every time Joost scooped up the pill from the scrum base and darted up the blind side. One of the most consistent players in world rugby over a very long period, JvdW tasted World Cup glory on home turf in 1995 and scored 38 test tries, the most ever by a scrum half.
9. Inzamam-Ul-Haq – Okay, so the bloke made Boonie look like a dietician, but the punishment he dealt out to pie chuckers over the years almost required ‘Inzy’ to call for the ketchup during the drinks breaks. His broad smile and even broader abdominal region made him a big hit with fans and a legend in Pakistan. Throughout his career, Inzamam made 8,830 test runs @ 49.60 and quite possibly a bit of cash on the side.
8. Yevgeny Kafelnikov – It wasn’t just his name that bared a stark resemblance to the most famous weapon Russia has ever produced, as his double handed back hand was often unleashed with a semi-automatic force that left opponents scrambling. One of the first to play double handed off both sides, Yevgeny won 2 Slams, an Olympic gold medal, $24 million in prize money and one would imagine, a lifetime supply of ‘Wodka’ from the Kremlin for bringing glory to Mother Russia.
7. Zinadine Zidane – Obviously a man that is last in everyone’s Rollerdex, but much closer to the front page in the book of the world’s greatest footballers. It’s hotly debated if he’ll be better remembered for amazing goals such as his volley in the Champions League final of 2002 or for that infamous headbutt and subsequent sending off. I’ll remember Zidane for being just a few inches shy of going down as the greatest winner in all of sports. Deep into the second half of the World Cup final in 2006, he injured his shoulder and asked to be substituted. The French manager at the time, the genuinely certifiable Raymond Domenech, urged him to stay out there and ‘Zizou’ played on clearly hampered. Not long after in the extra time period, he cannoned a header from the edge of the area which was just tipped over the bar by Buffon. A few inches to either side would have resulted in a certain goal which would have meant that Zidane scored the winning World Cup goal with a bung shoulder. When put along side his previous World Cup triumph (in which he scored twice in the final), a European championship & the best goal ever seen in a Champions league final, Zindane would have been crowned the undisputed king of sports. Instead he gave Mazaaratti a ‘liverpool kiss’ and was sent off a disgraced man. Football can be a cruel game sometimes.
6. Mark Occhilupo – The man who could generate more power off a bottom turn than the Snowy Mountain hydroelectric dam. ‘Occy’ as he was affectionately known amongst the surfing fraternity managed one of sports great comebacks, dragging himself from the life of a sofa dwelling, puggy, borderline alco to the heights of a surfing World Title. Out of the water Occy was a real character and in it he was a powerful goofy footer known for showing the wave who was in charge.
5. Ole Gunnar Solskjær– Now close your eyes and imagine – a skinny, almost-dorky looking Peter Pan type walks into a bar. He approaches a group of fine looking ladies who at first appear disinterested. He extends a hand and says “Solskjær, Ole Gunnar Solskjær.” Their interest immediately perks up and their panties literally melt off as the pick of the bunch follows him to the nearest bathroom cubicle. The baby faced Norweigan also had a knack for scoring on the pitch as he netted 91 times for United, the most memorable being the winner in that Champions League Final.
4. Zinzan Brooke – Okay, so his name is really Murray, but he changed it by deedpole and became one of the most formidable number 8’s to ever pull on a rugby jersey. Unlike his Flight of the Concorde namesake, Murray was one mean bugger who could hit the line at speed and tackle like he had energizer batteries inserted in his tail pipe.
3. Metta World Peace – The Artist Formally Known As Artest was thrust under the international spotlight of infamy for being the catalyst for the craziest NBA brawl ever witnessed. The ‘Malice at the Palace’ was sparked after a fan threw a diet coke on Artest following a small altercation with the Piston’s Ben Wallace. Clearly displaying his street side & dislike of diet beverages, Artest jumped into the crowd and started hitting a fan he thought was responsible for throwing the drink. The violence erupted both on the court and in the stands and the players involved lost over $11 million due to suspensions. After a name change & an apparent leaf turn, it appeared MWP was the new champion of good karma. But his recent flagrant elbow on James Harden showed that World Peace is nothing more than an unattainable utopic fantasy.
2. Fuifui Moimoi – A commentators wet dream, Foifoi caught our attention with hard hits, straight running and questionable hairstyles. Tongan born, Kiwi raised but a bonafide league star in the land of Oz, the huge unit showed he can’t even be shaken down off the field with the woman who accused him of sexual misconduct being charged herself for attempted blackmail.
1. Björn Borg – Back in the day he was known for his fruity headbands and the fact that if he shaved he would have made a very attractive woman. But all that aside, Björn Borg’s name translates directly from Swedish to English as ‘Bear Fortress’. How Chuck Norris is that? I mean, if you knew you were up against some bloke called Bear Fortress, you’d have a tough time keeping your duds unsoiled let alone getting the mental edge. Life after tennis has also been interesting with Borg establishing a range of boxer shorts which, considering they are plastered with his name all over, are a very apt title for men’s underwear.