The Names of the Games: Part I
This list has been complied without the assistance of logic or rationale. It contains random athletes plucked from the sporting landscape whose names somehow impact on how they play their respective sports, or at the very least, conjure phonetic orgasms from commentators every time they get the ball.
But for reasons that will never be completely clear, even to me, these are indisputably the best named men in sports…
10. Joost van der Westhuizen – Whenever I read his name, I hear the voice of Gordon Bray pronouncing it in such a way that excitement builds with every syllable. That is precisely what happened every time Joost scooped up the pill from the scrum base and darted up the blind side. One of the most consistent players in world rugby over a very long period, JvdW tasted World Cup glory on home turf in 1995 and scored 38 test tries, the most ever by a scrum half.
9. Inzamam-Ul-Haq – Okay, so the bloke made Boonie look like a dietician, but the punishment he dealt out to pie chuckers over the years almost required ‘Inzy’ to call for the ketchup during the drinks breaks. His broad smile and even broader abdominal region made him a big hit with fans and a legend in Pakistan. Throughout his career, Inzamam made 8,830 test runs at an average of 49.60 and quite possibly a bit of cash on the side.
8. Yevgeny Kafelnikov – It wasn’t just his name that bared a stark resemblance to the most famous weapon Russia has ever produced, as his double handed back hand was often unleashed with a semi-automatic force that left opponents scrambling. One of the first to play double handed off both sides, Yevgeny won two Slams, an Olympic gold medal, $24 million in prize money and, one would imagine, a lifetime supply of ‘Wodka’ from the Kremlin for bringing glory to Mother Russia.
7. Zinadine Zidane – Obviously a man that is last in everyone’s Rollerdex, but much closer to the front page in the book of the world’s greatest footballers. It’s hotly debated if he’ll be better remembered for amazing goals such as his volley in the Champions League final of 2002 or for that infamous headbutt and subsequent sending off.
I’ll remember Zidane for being just a few inches shy of going down as the greatest winner in all of sports. Deep into the second half of the World Cup final in 2006, he injured his shoulder and asked to be substituted. The French manager at the time, the genuinely certifiable Raymond Domenech, urged him to stay out there and ‘Zizou’ played on clearly hampered. Not long after in the extra time period, he cannoned a header from the edge of the area which was just tipped over the bar by Buffon. A few inches either side would have resulted in a certain goal which would have meant that Zidane scored the winning World Cup goal with a bung shoulder.
When put alongside his previous World Cup triumph (in which he scored twice in the final), a European championship and the best goal ever seen in a Champions league final, Zindane would have been crowned the undisputed king of sports. Instead he gave Mazaaratti a ‘Liverpool kiss’ and was sent off a disgraced man. Football can be a cruel game sometimes.
6. Mark Occhilupo – The man who could generate more power off a bottom turn than the Snowy Mountain hydroelectric dam. ‘Occy’, as he was affectionately known among the surfing fraternity, managed one of sports great comebacks, dragging himself from the life of a sofa dwelling, pudgy, borderline alcoholic to the heights of a surfing World Title. Out of the water Occy was a real character and in it he was a powerful goofy footer known for showing the wave who was in charge.
To be continued (Back to the Future style) on Monday…
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