Obama, Trazeguet, Kahraba… The Comic Tradition of Player Nicknames in Egypt

Obama, Trazeguet, Kahraba... The Comic Tradition of Player Nicknames in Egypt

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In Egypt, it is a long-standing tradition to give footballers surnames instead of their real names that make players proud, as Trazeguet, “Pharaoh” and Aston Villa’s midfielder prove.

The unique tradition of nicknames for football players in Egypt, sometimes comically, is very much alive: “Obama” like the president, “Trezaget” or “Kahraba” (lightning in Arabic) like the 1998 world champion.

This decades-long satirical practice was popularized by 1980s player Badr Ragab, who coached an emerging team at Cairo club Al-Ahli, where he gave nicknames to his young players.

“When I was a coach (…) I dreamed that (my players) would become international stars and I wanted to encourage them to work harder by imitating famous players,” Badr Ragab told AFP.

“The names are based on their resemblance to the players and their skills. I nicknamed Karim Walid ‘Nedved’ because he looked like Pavel Nedved from Juventus, as well as Mahmoud Hassan, who had the traits of David Trezeguet from the France team. “, he adds.

“Trezeguet”, 26, one of the players of the Egyptian national team, has developed into Aston Villa’s English club this season after stints in Belgium (Anderlecht) and Turkey (Kasimpsa). He has scored only two Premier League goals this season but has drawn praise from the club’s former Scottish star Alan Hutton.


Badr Raghab gave the nickname of Mahmud Abdelmonim “Kahraba” (lightning), because he according to him was constantly moving.

But the practice, often extravagant, doesn’t appeal to everyone except Egyptian fans, who have enthusiastically adopted some of the surnames.

Rami Barkat, the former psychologist of the Egyptian national team “Pharaoh”, believes that wacky nicknames are not useful in the long run.

“Some players find these nicknames meaningless. They work hard to get there, while others fall for it and think they’ve succeeded,” he says. “I don’t like to give such nicknames to young players.”

A tradition that makes players proud

But that hasn’t stopped players from having weird and fanciful nicknames on their shirts.

The mainstay of Zamalek’s Cairo team, Yusuf Ibrahim, 25, received the nickname “Obama” from his teammates, who saw him as a resemblance to the former US president.

Al-Ahli defender Ahmed Ramzan refers to himself as “Beckham”, in reference to England star David Beckham and Khalil Heggy of the same team, Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian star known as “Neymar”.

One of Egypt’s most popular players is Mahmoud Abdel-Razek of Zamalek, known as “Chikabala”, named after former Zambian football star Webster Chikabala. An iconic reference that he himself had inherited from his brother, an Aswan team player.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, there’s only one step

The current Egyptian league has an impressive number of players popular among fans. One of them is Zamalek defender Mahmoud Hamdi aka ‘El Winch’ or ‘The Crane’ due to his great strength.

The Egyptian military, which has a strong presence in many sectors of Egyptian society, is also involved in football. She controls the El-Entag El-Harby (Military Production) team, which develops a player who responds to the adapted nickname of “Bazooka”.

The practice of surnames sometimes borders on ridiculous as Arab Contractors team player Abdel Rahman Khalid was baptized … “Gebna” (cheese).

But the palm of the singularity undoubtedly goes to the star of al-Ahli Mohammed Magadi known as “afsha”, a term that refers to the act of catching chickens before they are slaughtered to eat or sell.

The player’s mother gave him this nickname because of his ability to run after Pitta in his native village.

AFP. with

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