Euro 2020: How to pronounce players’ names correctly

  • Rob Swan

Brought to you by  Heineken

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Euro 2020 kicks off on Friday - or perhaps it’s already well underway by the time you read this - and it feels a bit like Christmas Eve for football fans.

There’s nothing quite like a major international tournament, is there?

And following a 12-month delay, all of us are salivating at the prospect of watching wall-to-wall international football between June 11-July 11.

In the build-up to the tournament, UEFA have published a guide explaining how to pronounce various players’ names correctly.

Most of the 24 national teams feature - although England don’t because, UEFA say, the names of Gareth Southgate’s stars are “all pretty simple”.

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It turns out that we’ve all been saying the names of certain players incorrectly throughout their entire careers.

For example, did you know that the Portuguese defender Pepe is pronounced ‘Pep’ (like Guardiola) and not ‘Pep-eh’?

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His international teammates Bruno Fernandes (‘Fur-nandsh’) and Ruben Neves (’Nevsh’) also rarely receive the correct pronunciations on their names by football fans in the UK.

Let’s have a closer look at the guide in full…

Austria

UEFA: “Basic German-language rules apply – note that an umlauted 'ä', 'ö' or 'ü' sounds something similar to 'ae', 'oe', 'ue' in English.”

Stefan Lainer – Liner
Philipp Lienhart – Leen-hart
Alessandro Schöpf – Sherpf
Karim Onisiwo – Onni-see-vo
Sasa Kalajdzic – Sasha Kal-ide-jitch

Belgium

UEFA: “Some names are pronounced the Flemish way, and some the French way.”

Toby Alderweireld – Al-der-way-reld
Michy Batshuayi – Bat-shoe-a-yi
Timothy Castagne – Cast-an-yer
Thibaut Courtois – Tee-bo Cor-twa
Thomas Meunier – Muh-nee-ay
Simon Mignolet – Min-yo-let
Thomas Vermaelen – Ver-mah-len

Croatia

UEFA: "Basic rules: 'š' is a 'sh', 'č' and 'ć' are a bit like an English 'ch', and 'j' approximates to an English ‘y’.”

Milan Badelj – Bad-el-ee
Luka Ivanušec – Eevan-oo-shets
Mislav Oršić – Orsh-itch
Šime Vrsaljko – Shi-may Ver-sal-ee-ko

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Czech Republic

UEFA: “Accents on vowels indicate where the pronunciation should be stressed (so ‘Tomáš’ is more like ‘Tom-aash’ for English speakers). An 'š' is a 'sh', a 'č' is a 'ch', but 'c' is more like a 'ts'. And 'ř' is a bit like 'rj' in English.”

Jan Bořil – Yan Borjil
Ondřej Čelůstka – Ondjay Chell-oost-ka
Adam Hložek – H-lozhek
Tomáš Holeš – Hollesh
Pavel Kadeřábek – Kadder-jah-beck
Aleš Matějů – Alesh Mattay-oo
Jiří Pavlenka – Yeer-zhee
Jakub Pešek – Pesheck
Petr Ševčík – Shev-cheek
Tomáš Vaclík – Vatz-leek

Denmark

UEFA: “That ‘æ’ character is widely misunderstood among English speakers, while a ‘g’ tends to be much softer than it looks.”

Simon Kjær – Care
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg – Hoy-byer
Jonas Lössl – Yo-nass Lussel
Joakim Mæhle – May-leh
Frederik Rønnow – Rern-oh

Finland

UEFA: “Vowels and accents can make a language more treacherous than it first appears (a Finnish ‘ä’ sounds much like the English ‘a’ in ‘hat’).”

Nikolai Alho – Arl-hoh
Paulus Arajuuri – Ara-yoo-ree
Jasin Assehnoun – Asser-known
Nicholas Hämäläinen – Hama-lay-nen
Lukas Hradecky – Lukash Radetski
Juhani Ojala – O-yalla
Teemu Pukki – Pooky
Sauli Väisänen – Vay-san-en

France

UEFA: “The vowels often confound English speakers. So do the consonants.”

Lucas Digne – Loo-cah Dee-nyuh
Olivier Giroud – Ol-iv-ee-eh Ji-roo
Antoine Griezmann – On-twan Gree-ez-man
N'Golo Kanté – N-go-lo Kon-tay
Clément Lenglet – Long-lay
Steve Mandanda – Stev Mon-don-dah
Mike Meignan – Mane-yoh
Marcus Thuram – Too-ram

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Germany

UEFA: “An umlaut on 'ä', 'ö' or 'ü' is comparable to 'ae', 'oe', 'ue' in English. Note: Joshua Kimmich – 'ich' as in "ich bin ein Berliner" rather than Baby You're A Rich Man.”

Manuel Neuer – Noy-ah
İlkay Gündoğan – Eel-kay Goon-doe-wan
Emre Can – Jan
Joshua Kimmich – Kim-ikh

Hungary

UEFA: “One of the few European languages that do not belong to the Indo-European group, Hungarian is not as percussive-sounding as it looks.”

Tamás Cseri – Tom-ash Cherry
Dénes Dibusz – Day-nesh Di-boos
Péter Gulácsi – Pay-ter Goo-lat-chi
Ákos Kecskés – Ah-kosh Ketch-kay-sh
Gergő Lovrencsics – Ger-gur Lov-ren-chitch
Ádám Nagy – Nah-dge
Szabolcs Schön – Saw-bolch Shern
Attila Szalai – Saw-law-ee

Italy

UEFA: “The commonly-made mistake is to pronounce a 'ch' like an English 'ch' – it is more like a 'k'. Lorenzo Insigne is a tough one to get spot on – linguists may note that his 'gn' works like a Spanish ‘ñ’.”

Federico Bernardeschi – Ber-nar-desk-ee
Giorgio Chiellini – Jor-joe Key-eh-lean-ee
Federico Chiesa – Kee-ay-sah
Alessio Cragno – Cran-yo
Lorenzo Insigne – In-sin-yuh

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Netherlands

UEFA: “The gg sound is like the Scottish 'loch'. The ‘ij’ doesn’t have a direct English equivalent, but is softer than the 'i' sound in 'fine' (and more like the Scottish 'aye', or 'why'). The 'ou' is more pronounced than the English 'out' – it’s like 'ah-ou' run together; so think of the 'ow' when you bang your elbow on a doorframe.”

Steven Bergwijn – Stay-ven Berugg-why-n
Matthijs de Ligt – Mat-ice Dull-icht
Marten de Roon – Der-own
Stefan de Vrij – Stay-fon Duh-fray
Quincy Promes – Pro-mess
Donny van de Beek – Fun der-bake
Wout Weghorst – Vowt Vegg-horst
Georginio Wijnaldum – Why-naldum
Owen Wijndal – Whyne-dal

North Macedonia

UEFA: “North Macedonian names are transliterated from the Cyrillic alphabet so the hard work should have been done for you, but there are a few hazardous ones out there.”

Visar Musliu – Moos-lyoo
Vlatko Stojanovski – Stoyan-ovski
Aleksandar Trajkovski – Try-kovski
Ivan Trickovski – Tritch-kovski

Poland

UEFA: “Polish is a much softer-sounding language than all the 'k's and 'z's would suggest. A 'Ł' or 'ł' is rather like an English 'w', while the subscript accent on an 'ę' or an 'ą' subtly adds an 'n' to the vowel.”

Bartosz Bereszyński – Berresh-in-skee
Paweł Dawidowicz – Dav-id-ov-itch
Łukasz Fabiański – Woo-cash Fab-yan-ski
Kamil Jóźwiak – Yoz-vee-ak
Tomasz Kędziora – Kend-zyor-a
Dawid Kownacki – Kov-nats-kee
Kacper Kozłowski – Kos-lov-skee
Robert Lewandowski – Lev-and-ov-ski
Kamil Piątkowski – Pyont-kov-skee
Przemysław Płacheta – Pwa-shetta
Tymoteusz Puchacz – Pook-atch
Jakub Świerczok – Shfair-chock
Wojciech Szczęsny – Voy-chekh Sh-chen-sni

Portugal

UEFA: “Contrary to what most English speakers imagine, Portuguese sounds very different to Spanish. The 'r' at the start of Rui or Renato is a little bit like a rolled 'r' in French. The second vowels in 'Lopes' and 'Neves' get squashed down into a 'sh' – e.g. Lopsh, Nevsh.”

Anthony Lopes – Lopsh
Bruno Fernandes – Fur-nandsh
Diogo Jota – Dee-ohg Zhotta
Gonçalo Guedes – Gon-sarlo Gair-diss
Raphael Guerreiro – Ge-ray-ro
João Félix – Joo-wow Fay-lix
João Moutinho – Joo-wow Mo-teen-oo
João Palhinha – Joo-wow Pal-een-a
Pedro Gonçalves – Gon-salvsh
Pepe – Pep (not 'Pep-eh')
Rúben Neves – Nevsh

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Russia

UEFA: “Vowel sounds and the way they are stressed present the biggest challenges for English speakers, with common first names often not sounding exactly like their transcribed equivalents – hence Igor = Igar, Roman = Raman, Denis = Dinis, Oleg = Aleg.”

Igor Diveev – Div-ay-ev
Artem Dzyuba – Jooba

Scotland

UEFA: “Most native English speakers will be on safe ground.”

Jon McLaughlin – Mick-lock-lin
Kieran Tierney – Teer-ni

Slovakia

UEFA: “Rules similar to Czech: an 'š' is a 'sh', a 'č' is a 'ch', but a 'c' is more like a 'ts'. Meanwhile, 'Ď' – with its superscript accent – sounds something like the 'dg' in 'hedge’.”

Michal Ďuriš – Djoo-rish
Marek Hamšík – Ham-sheek
Patrik Hrošovský – Hroshov-skee
Tomáš Hubočan – Hoo-bo-chan
Dušan Kuciak – Koo-tsee-ack
Juraj Kucka – Koots-ka
Milan Škriniar – Shkrin-ee-ar
Dávid Strelec – Strell-ets

Spain

UEFA: “Getting it right is tough for the uninitiated, but the following pronunciations may get you a bit closer. César Azpilicueta's Chelsea team-mates famously nicknamed him 'Dave' to avoid the difficulty of saying his surname.”

César Azpilicueta – Ath-pili-coo-et-a
Sergio Busquets – Boo-skets
David de Gea – De-hay-eh
Diego and Marcos Llorente – Lorentay

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Sweden

UEFA: “That ‘g’ at the end of surnames sounds a lot like an English ‘y’; the 'j' also sounds like a 'y', while the first 'o' in many surnames is pronounced more akin to a 'u'. Where there's an 'rs' combo, it is an English 'sh’.”

Marcus Berg – Berry
Emil Forsberg – Fosh-berry
Sebastian Larsson – La-shon
Victor Lindelöf – Lin-de-love
Robin Olsen – Ul-sen
Mattias Svanberg – Svan-berry

Switzerland

UEFA: “In addition to Switzerland's mix of native languages – French, Swiss German and Italian – the prominence of players with Albanian, Kosovar and Turkish roots makes things even more exciting.”

Eray Cömert – Jo-mert
Breel Embolo – Brail
Becir Omeragic – Bess-eer Omer-adjitch
Fabian Schär – Share
Xherdan Shaqiri – Jer-dan Sha-chee-ree
Granit Xhaka – Jakka

Turkey

UEFA: “Umlauts do a similar job as in the Germanic languages, making an 'ş' a little like an English 'sh' and a 'c' more like a 'j'. The problem characters are the 'ğ' and the dotless 'ı' – both of which are very subtle sounds.”

Kerem Aktürkoğlu – Actur-koch-loo
Altay Bayındır – Baynder
Uğurcan Çakır – Ooroojan Chak-r
Hakan Çalhanoğlu – Chalha-no-loo
Zeki Çelik – Cheleek
Halil İbrahim Dervişoğlu – Darvish-oh-loo
İrfan Can Kahveci – Car-vay-jee
Efecan Karaca – Efferjan Karaja
Orkun Kökçü – Kerk-choo
Çağlar Söyüncü – Cha-la Ser-yoon-choo
Yusuf Yazıcı – Yaz-idger

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Ukraine

UEFA: “Transcribed – like Russian – from the Cyrillic alphabet, Ukrainian is notably easier to pronounce. Names largely sound like they look in print. The number of 'y's might throw some English speakers, so it's worth noting that they can generally be treated as English 'i's. An 'iy' is approximately the same as an English 'ee' – hence 'Andriy' = 'Und-ree’.”

Heorhii Sudakov – Georgie
Viktor Tsygankov – Zee-gan-kov

Wales

UEFA: “Mostly straightforward, but just in case …”

Chris Mepham – Mepp-um

Very interesting!

Commentators will no doubt be swatting up as we speak, while you can impress your mates down the pub this summer with your best impression of Çağlar Söyüncü (‘Cha-la Ser-yoon-choo’).

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