UEFA Champions League teams and their nicknames – UEFA Champions League – News
Barcelona – Barça, Blaugrana (Blue and Reds), Culés (Bottoms)
Barça is most common, Blaugrana most obvious but Culés most interesting. It is often applied to fans and stems from a tale of supporters unable to find seats at the old Les Corts stadium. They would instead sit on the walls of the ground, unwittingly exposing their behinds to passers-by.
Basel – Bebbi
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the name Johann Jakob was very common in Basel and people with that name were vernacularly called ‘Bebbi’. Eventually it became so popular that all boys from Basel were (and still are) referred to as Bebbi.
Bayern – Die Roten (The Reds)
Six years after being founded in 1900, Bayern linked up with the Münchner Sport-Club to use their pitch and facilities. There was just one condition: they had to swap their black shorts for red. Bayern have been Die Roten ever since.
Beşiktaş Bayern – Black Eagles
This has its origins in the side that went unbeaten for the whole of 1940/41. In one match, Beşiktaş led nearest rivals Süleymaniye 1-0 but rather than ease off they attacked relentlessly. “Come on, Black Eagles! Attack, Black Eagles!” came a booming voice from the crowd, said to belong to fisherman Mehmet Galin. The team duly earned a 6-0 win and a new nickname.
Chelsea – The Blues
Chelsea have always worn blue, initially the paler hue of Eton public school, alma mater of their first club president. Royal blue was adopted in 1912. “Blue is the Colour” is ever popular at Stamford Bridge, a song originally performed by the squad in the build-up to the 1972 League Cup final which reached number five in the UK.
Juventus – Vecchia Signora (Old Lady)
There is debate around the origins of this one, but most believe it comes from the Agnelli family who bought the club in the 1920s. They wanted to evoke a sophisticated style, ‘lo stile Juve’, so opted for the chic of an old noblewoman.
Liverpool – The Reds
Whisper it, but the famous reds were once blues – borrowing Everton’s colours when they replaced them at Anfield in 1892. Two years later they adopted red shirts and, since the 1960s they have worn the colour from head to toe.
Manchester City – Citizens, The Sky Blues
Citizens is an extension of City (club members are now called Cityzens); Sky Blues obviously owes to the colour of their home tops.
Manchester United – The Red Devils
United were The Heathens (they came from the Newton Heath area of Manchester and played on Sundays) but in the 1960s Sir Matt Busby reputedly took a liking to the Red Devils. That was the moniker the nearby Salford rugby league team had held since being dubbed “Les Diables Rouges” by a French journalist in 1934.
Paris Saint-Germain – PSG
Editors eager to avoid repetition occasionally label them Les Rouge-et-Bleu (The Red and Blue) or Les Parisiens (The Parisians) but French football loves a good acronym.
Porto – Dragões (Dragons)
The dragon has been a symbol of Porto since the 19th century, representing fighting spirit and invincibility. Porto put it on their club crest in 1922 at the suggestion of former player Augusto Baptista Ferreira.
Real Madrid – Merengues
A Spanish radio commentator started it when he likened their white shirts to meringues. A writer for British newspaper The Times is credited with a less common moniker, Vikingos, after comparing Madrid’s 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European Cup final in Glasgow to the Viking invasion of Europe.
Roma – I Lupi (The Wolves)
The wolf is the symbol of Rome. When the grandfather of Romulus and Remus was overthrown by his brother, the usurper ordered the twins to be cast into the river Tiber. They were rescued by a she-wolf, and Romulus later founded Rome.
Sevilla – Palanganas (Washbasins)
Another label of unsure provenance. One explanation is that the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjúan resembles a washbasin. Another has it that washbasins in the early 20th century were white with a red lining, mimicking the club’s colours.
Shakhtar Donetsk – Pitmen
Another homage to a coalmining background, this time in the Donbass region – Shakhtar means mine-worker in Ukrainian. There is a hammer and pickaxe on the club crest and many fans wear bright orange pit hats.
Tottenham – Spurs
A shortened version of Hotspur, which comes from Harry Hotspur, a medieval English nobleman who appears in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 and was famous for his riding spurs and fighting cocks.