What’s in a footballer’s name? (Not Nigel in England these days)

By Nick Harris

SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year

5 September 2012

While the Premier League continues to be the most cosmopolitan football league in the world with players from dozens of countries, the most popular names across the whole of English football continue to have a familiar sound.

The word cloud graphic below depicts the names of the 2,400 footballers currently listed in the first-team squads of the 92 clubs in English football’s four professional divisions.

Note: there is not a single ‘Nigel’ among them.

In the not so recent past you’d find Winterburn and Clough, Quashie and De Jong, and even Reo-Coker (still around although clubless at the time of writing).

And there remain Nigels working as managers, Adkins at Southampton being one, and Clough at Derby being another.

But players listed in first-team squads called Nigel? None. (Although Arsenal must have hopes they can help end the Nigel drought with Nigel Neita in their reserves).

If you picked a first team based on the most popular names across English football right now, that team would look like this:

English football XI (4-4-2): David (46 players); Danny (46), Chris (44), Joe (38), Michael (37); James (36), Paul (36), Adam (34), Mark (33); Lee (31), Ryan (30).

The subs would be Andy, Matt (although if you counted Matthew and Matty all together, then they’d be in the first team), Jamie, Jack, Craig, Stephen and Jordan.

But no Nigel.

There are more people in English football currently with clubs called Wojciech, Branislav, Henrique and Gunnar than called Nigel.

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Stories where somebody called NIGEL is mentioned

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