If you tune into today’s Confederations Cup final on ESPN — and there’s a chance you might, with the basketball and hockey seasons finally having ended, the top seeds at Wimbledon getting bounced by the 116th seeds, and these interleague baseball games having become tedious — you will notice that one of the soccer teams is wearing jerseys with funky nicknames on back.
The other team will not have names that end in vowels above their numbers, because Italy lost to Spain on penalty kicks.
The team with the funky nicknames will be Brazil:
Julio Cesar and Jefferson and Diego Cavalieri keeping goal.
Dante, Dani Alves, Filipe, Marcelo, Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Rivera on the defensive back line.
Hernanes, Luiz Gustavo, Jean, Oscar, Paulinho, Fernando, Bernard and Lucas Moura in midfield.
Fred, Jadson, Jo, Hulk and Neymar up front.
Brazil has more one-named stars than U2.
The greatest soccer player of all time was a Brazilian. His name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento. But that wouldn’t fit on his soccer shirt, so they called him Pele.
Actually, when Pele played, soccer shirts didn’t have the players’ names on back. But they would have called him Pele, anyway, for this is the Brazilian tradition. They like to keep it casual over there. One name. Not three or four.
It’s not like that in some of the other soccer-playing nations. Poland, for instance. The most-capped player on the Polish National Team is a midfielder named Jakub Blaszczykowski.
The birth name of Hulk, the Brazilian footballer, is Givanildo Vieira de Souza. Now you know why they call him “Hulk.” Plus, with his beefy build, he sort of looks like The Incredible Hulk, whose real name was Bruce Banner.
For those scoring at home, or for those just absent-mindedly flicking headers at the dog until the NFL preseason starts, the real name of Bono, the U2 frontman, is Paul David Hewson, which isn’t an awful name. The guitar player The Edge was born David Howell Evans.
Ludacris, the rapper, is really Christopher Brian Bridges. Madonna, believe it or not, is Madonna. Though on her birth certificate it says Madonna Louise Ciccone.
Those are all pretty cool names for rockers or rappers. But not as cool as Fred, the Brazilian soccer forward, whose real name is Frederico Chaves Guedes.
(In a perfect world, the other Brazilian striker, or at least an attacking midfielder, would be known as Ethel. But it is not a perfect world.)
It used to be the best way to become a one-named Brazilian soccer star was to drip savory juice from a pork chop onto a soccer ball and dribble through dusty streets on the poor side of town with hungry dogs nipping at your heels. Like in that commercial during one of the recent World Cups.
But thanks to an Internet website called BrazilName, one now can acquire a Brazilian soccer name without worrying about a tetanus shot.
You can try it yourself at www.minimalsworld.net/BrazilName/brazilian.shtml. All you have to do is type in your first and last names — jersey number is optional — in the spaces under the Brazilian flag and hit the generate button. Voila! Or G-O-O-O-A-L! Madonna Louise Ciccone becomes Cicconio, and with a name like that, she can be a material girl and play left back at the same time.
Or you can do as I did, and plug in the names of Las Vegas icons to form an all-star team. I think my side will start out in a traditional 4-4-2, though we won’t play boring football, like the Italians.
In the back we’ll have Bennaldo (Anthony Bennett), Grandmamerto (Larry Johnson), Jacksisco (Steven Jackson) and Moneto (Floyd Mayweather Jr.), because those are big and/or tough guys, and that is what’s called for on defense.
In midfield, we’ll begin with Harposa (Bryce Harper), Jaldo Peres (Jerry Tarkanian), Herculisco (Herculez Gomez), and Felix Binhosa (Kyle Busch), because we’ll need some speed.
Up front, we’re gonna go with Andrito (Andre Agassi) and Steffildo (Steffi Graf), because those two have played together a long time. They know each other’s moves.
Goodmaca (former Mayor Oscar Goodman) starts in goal, because in soccer there aren’t a lot of shots, and so he probably won’t have to put down his martini glass until injury time.
Of course, we’ll need substitutes, because Jaldo Peres (Tark) can’t go the full 90 minutes anymore, and Moneto (Mayweather Jr.) and Felix Binhosa (Kyle Busch) have a tendency for yellow cards.
Arincha (Bob Arum), Bildo (Bobby Hauck), Whitenho (Dana White), Riceta (Dave Rice), Grildo (Greg Maddux), Reardo (Harry Reid), Kinhosa (Kurt Busch), Ma (Manny Pacquiao), Cunninghao (Randall Cunningham), Muhammson (Shabazz Muhammad) and Backmundo (Wally Backman) will be ready when called upon.
The player-coach will be Simildo (Simon Keith) because, like Herculisco, he knows his way around the touch line and the 18-yard box and probably is good at through balls.
Sting or Jewel or Prince or Rihanna or Pink or Beyonce or Adele or Shakira or Cher or Beck or Fergie or Bjork or Seal or Sade will sing the national anthem.
Or Tisco (Tony Bennett).
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.