The Rolls-Royce of Maradona Nickname Lists

ArgentinaFor longer than a century, luxury car manufacturer Rolls-Royce has been engaged in an ongoing legal pursuit of companies that try to piggy-back on its global reputation for quality and excellence. The car maker’s lawyers have a special department concerned solely with enforcing this issue, so, whenever someone tries to market their latest product as the Rolls-Royce of dishwashers, septic tanks or stripper poles, a barrage of cease and desist letters will inevitably follow.

If there’s a footballer who should employ the services of a similar firm to protect the value of his name, it’s Diego Armando Maradona. While arguments might continue ad nauseam about whether there have been more talented footballers, certainly no other player has had his name so widely co-opted as a definitive benchmark of quality. Diego Maradona has become a one-man, footballing Kitemark.

Diego MaradonaMost Maradona-derived nicknames know no geographical borders: from Italy to Indonesia, via South America and Russia, there have been players with the odd trick or two to their game who become duly labelled as the Maradona of their respective town, city, region or continent. The Argentinian football public itself is just as guilty thanks to its own unhealthy obsession with anointing any up-and-coming, skilful number ten – of which there are many – as the latest ‘new Maradona’ and heir apparent to some imagined football throne.

Some of the other Maradona associations are as broad as they are tenuous: new, old, big, small, ironic, scorer of hand-ball goals – there’s hardly any career detail, physical characteristic or loose similarity in playing style (if not quality) that hasn’t inspired a Maradona nickname somewhere on the planet. It’s a cult that can warp the very fabric of time. The mercurial forward Omar Sivori had his own fantastic career, yet that seemed to be oddly forgotten when he was retrospectively labelled as the ‘Maradona of the 60s’. It’s a phenomenon that even transcends gender and sport – there are male and female hockey players, Japanese authors and American pianists nicknamed as the Maradonas of their own particular disciplines.

BTLM has dutifully assembled an extensive collection of 58 individuals from around the world, all who have been publicly anointed as the Maradona of something, or somewhere, at some stage of their careers. If we marketed our list on its quality and sheer comprehensive nature, it would undoubtedly be the ‘Rolls-Royce of Maradona Nickname Lists’ – take that Rolls-Royce Legal Department!

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1) Lionel Messi
2) Diego Latorre
3) Marcelo Gallardo
4) Juan Roman Riquelme
5) Carlos Marinelli
6) Pablo Aimar
7) Ezequiel Lavezzi
8) Mauro Zarate
9) Sergio Aguero
10) Carlos Tevez
11) Andres D’Alessandro
12) Ariel Ortega
13) Javier Saviola
14) Mauro Formica

Non – Argentinian
15) The Next Maradona – Shaun Reay (named by Darlington’s Youth Director Mick Tait)


16) Maradona of the Carpathians – Gheorghe Hagi
17) Maradona of the Balkans – Blaž Slišković
18) Maradona of the Balkans – Zvonimir Vukic (Serbia)
19) Maradona of the Balkans – Edvin Murati (Albania)
20) Maradona of the Balkans – Dejan Savicevic
21) Leningrad’s Maradona – Alexander Kanischev
22) The Maradona of the Salento – Fabrizio Miccoli
23) The Maradona of the Bosphorous – Emre Belozoglu
24) Maradona of Kosovo – Fadil Muriqi
25) Maradona of the Antas – Márcio Sousa
26) Maradona of the Italians – Gianfranco Zola
27) Maradona of England – Paul Gascoigne
28) Maradona of the East End – Joe Cole
29) The Basingstoke Maradona – Sergio Torres
30) Maradona of the Alps – Andreas Herzog
31) Maradona of the Caucasus – Georgi Kinkladze

Asia & Far East
32) The Indian Maradona – Krishanu Dey
33) Maradona from Purwodadi – Tugiyo   (Indonesia)
34) Maradona of the Orient – Hidetoshi Nakata (Japan)

Middle East & Africa
35) Maradona of Port Said – Ibrahim El-Masry
36) Maradona of the Nile – Ahmed Abdou El-Kass (Egypt)
37) Maradona of the Desert –  Ryan Belal  (scored with a handball)
38) The Maradona of the Arabs – Saeed Al-Owairan
39) Arabian Maradona – Khaled Gahwji
40) The Asian Maradona – Ali Karimi (Iran)

The Americas
41) The Honduran Maradona – Alexander Agustín “Alex” López
42) Caribbean Maradona – Hayden Tinto
43) Maradona of the Andes – Roberto Merino (Peru)

44) The Ginger Maradona- Scott Ollerenshaw
45) The Ginger Maradona – Drew Talbot
46) Little Maradona – Vincenzo Sarno

47) The Coptic Maradona – Hany Ramzy (Egypt)

48) Maradona –  Stanley Nduwayo (Burundi)
49) Diego – Guido Buchwald (marked Maradona successfully in 1990 World Cup Final)
50) Diego Maradona – Fadil Vokrii (Albania)

51) Mariodona – Mario Been
52) Khalidona – Khalid Darwish (shortest player in the Emirati League)

53) Maradona of the 1960s – Omar Sivori

54) Maradona of  Rugby – Juan Martín Hernández
55) La Maradona del Hockey (Female) – Luciana Aymar
56) Maradona of Hockey (Male) – Shahbaz Ahmed

57) Maradona of Japanese Literature – Ryu Murakami
58) The Ivory Maradona – Steve ‘Big Man’ Clayton (pianist)

If Rolls-Royce’s legal eagles were acting on Diego’s behalf, they could certainly make the case that the leverage of his name in each one of these instances – with the exception of Lionel Messi – unduly flatters the recipient, and brings no benefit to the Maradona name. The lawyers could send out letters advising players that they can only use Maradona-inspired nicknames with a suitable rider attached: ‘Warning – May not look, act or perform like Maradona. Any similarities are purely coincidental.’

If Lionel Messi’s stellar career continues on its scarcely credible trajectory, BTLM wonders if our list might need updating a few years down the line. Perhaps in a decade’s time we might be referring to Gheorghe Hagi as the ‘Lionel Messi of the 80s of the Carpathians.’ although, to be honest, it doesn’t quite trip off the tongue, does it.

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