If ever a footballer's nickname conjured up a certain image it's this one.
The Athletic Bilbao hardman gained infamy in the early 1980's for his crunching, injury-inducing challenges on Barcelona playmakers Diego Maradona and Bernd Schuster.
He was from Romania. So are the Carpathians. He was brilliant, and had a sweet left foot, like Maradona.
Apparently Roberto Scarpini who worked for the Inter website, gave him the nickname during a commentary and it stuck. It relates to the Keanu Reeves film but no-one seems to know exactly why Scarpini chose it though!
Di Livio’s fantastic work-rate, stamina & attitude for Juventus & Fiorentina all fitted the nickname, but apparently he was given it by Juve teammate Roberto Baggio because of his distinctive upright running style up & down the right wing - chest out, shoulders back, arms by his sides.
Clever. See what they did here for one of the best keepers of the 80s? A nod to the imaginary barrier between the West & the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc, & also the physical barrier of Dasayev’s fantastic shot-stopping ability.
The Dutch midfielder was given the name by Louis van Gaal because of his aggressive, all-action style.
To be fair, he could play a bit too.
A great nickname for a huge fans favourite. Forest supporters gave him the nickname in the 80s for his crunching tackles at left back. England fans adopted it too having seen the same 100% no-nonsense style in the three lions shirt.
A fitting name for the legendary German defender thanks to his regal style and leadership.
Was it because he had a long neck and belonged to the Queen ?
Or because of his graceful, elegant style and the fact he was born in the Dutch city of Utrecht ?
The golden boy of Italian football in the 1960s & 70s (indeed this was Rivera’s other nickname - “Bambino d'Oro”), but outspoken journalist Gianni Brera labelled him L’Abatino - the Little Abbot (an abbot being the head of a monastery) because he thought Rivera’s silky style was too nice & that he wasn’t willing to do the rough stuff!
Classy winger in those fantastic green shirts of Saint-Étienne in the 1970s.
The Peru keeper certainly lived up to his nickname in the 1978 World Cup when he appeared out of nowhere to floor Poland's Grzegorz Lato in the other half of the pitch !
The elegant forward suffered from aviophobia (the fear of flying) and had to find alternative methods of travelling to European matches or international tournaments.
Following his move to the German side Hamburger SV in 1977, the Volksparkstadion fans named him after the cartoon superhero, due to Keegan's 5ft-8in size and all-action style.
When Kispest AC became the Hungarian Army team in the 1940's and were renamed to Budapest Honvéd, their players were given a military rank. So their great striker was given this tremendous nickname.
A great nickname from the Old Trafford faithful in the 90's for their Norwegian striker.
He played football like a God. And he had a ponytail.
The Veróns keep it in the family - his dad, the great Estudiantes midfielder Juan Ramón Verón, was nicknamed La Bruja (the Witch).
Apparently Rav had already gone grey by the age of 14.
Chelsea hardman from the 1970s, his name came from his love of chopping down the opposition.
The Swedish legend's power was duly acknowledged by Milan fans with this tag.
One of the most famous footballer's nicknames of the 1990s.
Not the most subtle, but given his phenomenal goal rate at Fiorentina, it's pretty appropriate.
His dad was a pro-footballer and one of his team-mates called it him when he used to go along to the matches. It stuck.
Or Der Bomber der Nation (the Nation's Bomber). A great German goal-scorer.
Given the tag early in his Liverpool career after rugby tackling Newcastle’s Albert Bennett.
Small shaven-headed midfielder. Genius at times with Barca & Espanyol.
Shot to fame as the Golden Boot winner at Italia'90. Why "Totò" ? Simple, it’s the shortened form of Salvatore.
Self explanatory, but if you’ve been living on the moon and don’t know why, just type his name into YouTube...
The Dutch midfielder got the tag in the 70s as he quickly chased everything down with manic determination.
Why ? The Brazilian left winger could kick a football really, really hard.
Does what it says on the tin for the great German.
The Polish star got the name from Juventus president Gianni Agnelli due to his sublime performances in European night matches in the 1980's.
When it comes to famous footballers' nicknames, this is one of the daddys.
Fast and skilful, the ball seemingly glued to his boot. What a player.
The Brazilian striker got the nickname in the early 90s.
Some say it’s based on his striking instinct, others because of his partying.
Gifted little Norwegian who buzzed around the midfield.
He even started celebrating his goals like a mosquito by flapping his arms!
Surprisingly it's nothing to do with that lovely left foot of his. When he moved to Arsenal aged 15 his mum told the scout he'd be ok as long as he was given lots of chips. "We'll call him Chippy" said the scout. And they did, for the next 8 years.
A fitting nickname for the legendary Russian keeper, with his iconic all-black outfit & fantastic acrobatic saves.
He also became one of football's most famous one club men, becoming synonymous with Dynamo Moscow throughout the 1950s and 1960s after spending his entire 20 year career there.
That mop of golden hair.
And those heavenly passes from his position in the centre of midfield.
You get the picture.
He got the name aged 7, after a kids comic called Sparky, because it (almost) rhymed with Mark.
Given the tag in 1952 when Napoli broke the transfer record to sign the Swedish striker from Atalanta for 105m Lira.
The diminutive striker got the name at Genoa, when he first started marking his goals with his trademark arms-out celebration. He carried on scoring & celebrating at Samp & Roma.
The great Bolton centre-forward got the name in 1952 after the England vs Austria match, scoring a goal after being elbowed in the face, battered from behind and being brought down by the keeper.
Atlético Madrid fans gave him the tag as he came up through the youth ranks & made his 1st team debut aged 17.
Powerful, aggressive Chilean striker named after that surprisingly strong little Flintstones character.
He formed one of South America's greatest strike partnerships alongside Marcelo Salas, together scoring 59 goals for La Roja in the 1990s.
The legendary Cagliari forward was given the name by Italian journalist Gianni Brera, due to his strength, speed & powerful left foot shot.
We love this one. Chocolate Eclair, Choccy McClair. And that, ladies & gentleman, is how you got a nickname in the 1980s!
The power, the speed, the strength - such a great nickname for the brilliant Brazilian who scored in every one of their matches at the 1970 World Cup.
Silky right winger who would almost float past defenders for Torino (and maroon being the colour of their shirts).
With his wiry frame, this nickname does exactly what it says on the tin for the legendary chain-smoking Argentinan coach.
Bergomi got the name after playing in the 1982 World Cup Final as an 18 year old, but looking like a veteran with his bushy tache & even bushier eyebrows. Here he is at Inter that same year - the 18yr old Uncle...
The legendary Liverpool keeper was affectionately called this because he still made spectacular diving saves despite his stocky 14 stone body.
A fitting nickname for the Uruguayan playmaker’s elegant style on the ball.
One of Argentina’s great defenders and captain of the team at the 1974 World Cup.
Arguably Austria's greatest ever player, with a nickname to match, given because of his elegant style and beautiful dribbling. He was also known as "Der Papierene" (The Paper Man) because of his slight frame.
Affectionate tag given to the Argentine striker in the 90s after comparisons to fellow free-scoring countryman from the 80s - Jorge Valdano.
Given to him by teammate Thomas Berthold - both were from the town of Hanau near Frankfurt, where old women with grey-permed hair were sometimes referred to as "Tante Kathe's". Quality work Thomas ??
A nickname that does exactly what it says on the tin for the great Brazilian midfielder.
How to get a nickname for the rest of your career in Milan... Apparently when he was in the Milan youth team he was a big basketball fan & Milan's team, Olimpia Milano, had their sponsor "Billy" emblazoned across the shirt!
West Ham’s hard-tackling right back, who was famed for powering in unstoppable penalties, was named after the toy manufacturer - who’s toy trucks were famously marketed as indestructible.
Got the tag at Rot-Weiss Essen in the 70s thanks to his mighty heading prowess. At Hamburger SV he formed a deadly partnership with right-back Mani Kaltz, powering home his crosses time & again.?
No one seems quite sure where the Batman tag came from, but the brilliant little Italian forward had a tattoo to match it.
During his 15 years at Juventus in the 40s & 50s, Parola became so renowned for his use of the overhead kick that he even got a nicknamed it. His image even became famous as the symbol on Panini stickers.
His finishing & skill in tight areas in the box earned the legendary little Colo Colo & Chile forward this fantastic nickname.
This one’s all about the beautiful slick dribbling style and lean frame of the great Dutch left winger.
The talented winger had injury problems throughout his career and was given the nickname by team-mate Andy Gosney at his first club, Portsmouth.
Great nickname for the classy Italian who starred on the right wing for Juventus and Italy for 11 years in the 1970s and 80s,
His great moustache, big hair and educated upbringing also suited the tag to perfection.
He’s coached in Spain & Italy as well as his native Uruguay but the name isn’t because of his coaching ability and techniques, it’s because he was actually a teacher before embarking on his 30 year career.
Slightly unusual as it’s claimed he coined the title himself at West Ham & asked for it to be used at Old Trafford when he made the move to Man Utd. Ince claims to hate it but he did have the number plate "GUV 8".
An apt nickname for such a relatively small & slender keeper. But despite being only 5 foot 9 the Juventus legend remains one of Italy's great keepers of the 60s & 70s.
The Man City legend's athleticism, stamina and tireless work-rate earned him this fantastic nickname from the Kippax after the great thoroughbred racehorse of the late 1960s/70s.
The Uruguayan footballing enigma (genius at times, frustratingly lacklustre at others) acquired this unusual nickname due to his Oriental features.
The Inter legend later became known as “Il Capitano” but to us he will always be “El Tractor” due to his tireless energy up & down the flanks.
What a player.
One of the finest left-backs of the 60s & 70s, he had a great career, especially his 11 years in Italy.
Fantastically flamboyant keeper got the nickname 'Spiderman' during his 16 years at Inter due to his agility & reflexes.
The pacy Swede had a variety of nicknames all relating to his tremendous speed - "The Kallebäck-Express" (he was from Kallebäck), "Il Ciclone" (the cyclone) but our favourite is from his homeland - "Johnny Bråttom", meaning Johnny-in-a-Hurry. Quality.
Named after the Only Fools and Horses character because he wasn't the sharpest tool in the box. When McAteer signed for Liverpool, Rob Jones was already known as Trigger so he was renamed "Dave" for his spell at Anfield.
He got the name from Juve fans because he had interest in philosophy & literature, wore glasses and even obtained a law degree during his career. Cracking player too ??
This is a proper footballer's nickname as literally everyone used it for him. It's actually taken from his birthplace, Santillana del Mar, which makes us wonder if there’s a striker out there in the English league called “Skegness".
The Palace & West Ham striker from the 50s & 60s was nicknamed "Budgie" due to his constant chattering!
You could pretty much guess the style of the Boca Juniors legend from his nickname. The mullet-haired colossus was a great goal poacher and became Boca's record goalscorer.
The great Inter left winger had a number of nicknames, Mariolino & "God's Left Foot" were 2 others, but "Mandrake" is our favourite - taken from the comic strip character "Mandrake the Magician".
The Dutch gaffer got this tag of respect after he was appointed Real Madrid manager in the mid 80s & won 3 titles on the bounce. His dry wit & love of cigars all added to the image.
El Salvador’s greatest player, he got the nickname having moved to Cádiz in Spain in ‘82 and impressing with his skill. A hero of Diego Maradona, who once said “He’s without doubt amongst the greatest 10 players I’ve ever seen play”.