Chris Smalling explains why Louis van Gaal calls him 'Pele'

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Football News

Chris Smalling will forever be affectionately known as 'Mike' by Manchester United fans.

Louis van Gaal famously called the defender by that name in a press conference and then proceeded to do so again just weeks later. We all had a big laugh about it and, as a result, the nickname is likely to stick around at Old Trafford longer than even the Dutchman will.

However, before Van Gaal leaves – possibly this summer, possibly in 2017 – he seems determined to give the English defender a new nickname... Pele. 

For some time, it has been to the bafflement of us all as to why Van Gaal likes to compare Smalling to arguably the game's greatest ever goal scorer. We're not sure the Brazilian legend would be too chuffed with the comparison.

Now, thankfully, Smalling himself has cleared up the mystery, explaining that Van Gaal decided to start calling him Pele after some rather nifty work in a recent training session.

Pele uncovered

“I’ve had so many different things, and even now I come to see the kids and it’s ‘shall I call you Mike?’, so I think that’s going to stick with me for a while now!” Smalling told Soccer AM.

Asked about his new name, he said: “Yeah, that’s a better one, I think.

“We played 11 v 11 [in training] and I got the ball and ended up dribbling and scoring a goal, and then I played a few passes that often a midfielder would usually play. So just after the end of that training session he said, ‘I think I’ll call you Pele now’.

“It’s a nicer name, albeit I think I have got to do a lot more to live up to that name than Mike!”

So there you have it, Manchester United fans. The mystery has been solved. We think we'll stick with Mike to be honest, but you guys go nuts.

Just in case all of this nonsense went completely over your head at the time, here is the original press conference in which Van Gaal christened Smalling as Mike.

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Manchester United
Premier League
Louis van Gaal
Wayne Rooney
Chris Smalling

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