los secretos – the nicknames

And we continue with Los secretos de la roja!  We’ve already done the first chapter, and the second chapter deals with how Spain got to the Eurocopa competition, so I’m not going to cover it here.  The third chapter is one of the best in the book, since it talks about the nicknames the guys have given to each other.  The chapter is entitled “Mofeta, Pelopo y Virus.”

The nicknames seem to have come about in three ways: from the actions of the person being nicknamed, from the physical appearance of the person being nicknamed, and from general immaturity on the part of the nicknamer.

Keep reading to see what cartoon character Dani Güiza was named after, what animal Iker apparently resembles, and what body part inspired Xavi and Albiol’s names.  And did you know that Xabi is nicknamed after a TV character and Fernando Llorente after a playing card?

Everyone has one!


Dani Güiza was nicknamed Virus.  Xavi laughs upon recalling the origin of the nickname: “I looked at him and looked at him, and I said, this guy looks like someone, but I can’t think of who.  One day, we got on the Internet and then I suddenly realized, he looked just like Virus, one of the characters on the animated series Érase una vez… el hombre!  (That’s what the book says, but I think the proper title is Érase una vez el cuerpo humano).  From that point on, we called him that and Dani not only did not get mad, he laughed each time.”

Xavi is Pelopo: Xavi: “my friend Miguel Ángel started calling me that when we played together in the cantera of Barça.”  Miguel Ángel: “Pelopo is a reference to the hair on a part of the body that you can imagine… you know, pelo-po, de po… [note: the po… stands for a five letter word that is Spanish for a certain part of the male anatomy.]  It was an affectionate nickname that we used in my neighborhood.  It resulted from some stupid thing that we did and it’s still used now.”

Iker is Mofeta (skunk), another nickname chosen by Xavi, from when they played on the youth national teams.  Xavi: “Iker was a bit less refined before, and at times he would just break wind.  Now he’s a serious and responsible guy who doesn’t do those things anymore.”  Iker rebuts, laughing: “I wasn’t like that; what happened is that Xavi always thought it was me who was behind everything.”

Arbeloa is Empanao or Tostadas, because he’s very absentminded.

Capdevila is Garrincha, a name given to him by Pepe, but just because he wore the number 11.  Xavi said it’s one of his pending tasks to find a nickname that suits Joan.  But Capdevila, a big joker, said, “they should call me Brad Pitt, Balón de Oro, Crack, Zidane…”  His teammates say he’s a great person, that helps the group to cohere and that he never stops kidding around.

Cazorla is Zlatan: he and Capdevila would play football on Play together.  Joan: “Santi always chose to be Inter and I was Manchester.  He almost always beat me, because I’m a disaster, and he would talk about Ibrahimovic’s goals all day.  That’s why I started calling him Zlatan.”  Cazorla: “Joan played against me with 20 different teams, but he never beat me.”  In 2007, when Spain played Sweden, Capdevila exchanged his shirt with Ibra, and gave it to Cazorla as a gift upon return to Villarreal.  Others call Cazorla “Enano” (midget) or “Alf” (like the alien from the TV show).  Reina baptized him as “Alevín” (kid) in Colón.

Albiol is Chori, because he was as tall and thin as a chorizo (a Spanish sausage).

Marchena is el Padre, courtesy of Sergio: “he spends the entire day giving out advice.”  At first Marchena didn’t like the nickname, but it had staying power.

Xabi is called Dexter by Pepe, for his resemblance to Michael C. Hall, the actor who plays Dexter in Dexter.  Raúl Martínez, the physiotherapist, had the series and gave it to Xabi to watch.  [So that’s where Xabi’s addiction to Dexter comes from!]

Pepe was at first Gordo (fat one), the work of Torres and Villa.  He was also called Falete (click on the link, there’s no way I can accurately describe Falete in words).  Pepe had originally called Sergio García that, for his resemblance to the singer, and Torres liked that so much that he turned around and started calling Pepe that.

Torres is Ratita (rat) because of a hairstyle he had years ago, according to Juanito.  And when they played Formula 1 on Play, Fernando named his team “Rata Humana.”

David Silva is Pony or Enano due to his height.

Sergio is sometimes Gitano (gypsy).

Mata is Pichonín, an affectionate term used in Asturias and chosen for him by Villa.  But when he and Villa first met each other, they called each other Guaje (kid in Asturias).  Villa is commonly known as el Guaje.

Llorente is Floris – in his town, the seven of gold (coins) playing card is known as Florón, and Joseba Exteberría started calling him that when they played cards.  It eventually became Floris, and was picked up by his national team teammates.

Iniesta is Andrew, the only thing Xavi dared to call him, because he’s so “timid that you can’t nickname him anything,” according to Albiol.

Puyol is Puyi, Piqué is Geri and Busquets is Busi, all plays on their names, which they already had from Barcelona and which the national team adopted.


In Pepe Reina’s soliloquy at Colón, he listed the players from 1 to 23, based on their jersey numbers, and in a lot of the cases, made references to their nicknames.  So here is the translation of what he said.

1.  the authentic man without hands, the man who made this dream possible by stopping two penalties in the quarterfinals, Iker… Casillas.

2.  the authentic sausage, the biggest spicy pork sausage [chorizo] in the world, Raúl… Albiol.

3.  the authentic boar from Besós, Fernando… Navarro.

4.  the authentic marshal of the area, the chief of defense, Carlos… Marchena.

5.  Tarzan, the man who eats pineapples, the authentic Carles… Puyol.

6.  the man that fights with the sun, who doesn’t get along with the sun, Andrés… Iniesta.

7.  the 7 of Spain, he was the pichichi due to his balls, the kid [el guaje]… Villa.

8.  Humphery Bogart, what can you say about Humphery Bogart, the authentic and genuine Pelopo, Xavi… Hernández.

9.  the kid [el niño], ay my kid, the kid of Spain, Fernando… Torres!

10.  the authentic empanada [means a person that is absentminded and gets confused easily], he doesn’t know shit about what’s going on, Cesc… Fàbregas.

11.  the authentic and genuine Garrincha, yes Garrincha, the authentic Joan… Capdevila.

12.  the one of the fans [i.e. the 12th man, since he wears 12], he’s very small and a kid [alevín], the authentic Santi… Cazorla.

13.  the genuine Andrés, who won 500 euros off of me in the penalties, Andrés… Palop.

14.  he appears to be Johan Cruyff’s son, the authentic and genuine Xabi… Alonso.

15.  in tribute to our beloved Antonio Puerta, may he rest in peace, the legendary Sergio…Ramos.

16.  my gypsy, the authentic Falete, authentic Sergio… García.

17.  who the hell is 17?  The authentic gypsy, the guy, Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, the Güiza, hey, where’s Güiza?  Gypsy… Güiza.

18.  with the 18 on his back, the second most clueless [empanao] in the world, he doesn’t know shit about what’s going on, the authentic Álvaro… Arbeloa.

19.  the samba, the Brazilian samba of Spain, the authentic conguito [this is a bit racist, although most Spaniards won’t admit to it], Marcos… Senna.

20.  with the 20 on his back, my God what quality!  Who is 20?  The 20, exquisite and fine… Juanito.

21.  he’s very small, he’s a kid, he’s only 1.50 meters tall but he has so much quality, the authentic David… Silva.

22.  Diego Armando Maradona, he’s the authentic star, olé, diegolé, diegolé, the authentic Rubén… de la Red.

23.  a humble speaker that is here with all of you from his heart, Pepe…Reina.

Posted on June 15, 2010, in secretos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. what is marcos senna’s nickname???

  2. in the nickname section, marcos senna wasn’t added :(

  3. yay you are so awesome for posting these!

    I wonder what Xavi did to get the name Pelopo…

    why do they make so many reference about Silva’s height, he’s not even the shortest person on the team.

  4. What is Cesc’s nickname?
    Did Navas has a nickname?

  5. Thank you for translating <3

    They put such effort into giving each other names! It's really hard not to love them <3 And Cesc being an empanada! Hee hee!

  6. – Marchena is el Padre, courtesy of Sergio: “he spends the entire day giving out advice.” At first Marchena didn’t like the nickname, but it had staying power.
    lol, precious. ♥! I love that you’re translating this. It gives me such a better idea of what they’re really like.

    Iniesta is Andrew, the only thing Xavi dared to call him, because he’s so “timid that you can’t nickname him anything,” according to Albiol.
    Aww, that’s kinda sad…. Not having someone try harder to give him a proper nickname probably makes him feel left out. :(

  7. YouNeverWalkAlone

    Lol, Xabi really DOES look like Dexter! I knew I thought he looked like someone! (and yes he does look like Matthew Davis too)

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