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Football club nicknames: Slang terms for all teams in Premier League, La Liga, Serie A & MLS

20:34 BST 19/08/2019
Raheem Sterling Manchester City 2019-20
Goal rounds up each team's nickname as well as their meanings

Some football club nicknames have become as synonymous with their official team names, with the likes of Chelsea known as 'the Blues' and Southampton commonly referred to as 'the Saints'.

Premier League team nicknames are pretty self-explanatory, often paying tribute to the club's trademark kit colours or the mascot on their crest and badge.

Other nicknames, however, have a more affectionate and unique etymology, such as Juventus being called 'the Old Lady' and Koln known as 'the Billy Goats'. So what are some other examples? Goal takes a look.

England's Premier League

Team Nickname(s)
Arsenal The Gunners
Aston Villa The Villans
Bournemouth The Cherries
Brighton The Seagulls
Burnley The Clarets
Chelsea The Blues
Crystal Palace The Eagles
Everton The Toffees
Leicester City The Foxes
Liverpool The Reds
Man City The Citizens, The Sky Blues
Man Utd The Red Devils
Newcastle Utd The Magpies
Norwich City The Canaries
Sheffield Utd The Blades
Southampton The Saints
Tottenham Spurs, The Lilywhites
Watford The Hornets
West Ham The Hammers, The Irons
Wolves Wolves

Everton are known as 'the Toffees' due to the toffee shops located in Everton village around the time the club was formed. Ye Anciente Everton Toffee House was popular with fans as it was near to the stadium, while Old Mother Nobletts Toffee Shop sold sweets called 'Everton mints', which were equally popular.

Southampton are referred to as 'the Saints', as the club was founded in 1885 by the young men of St Mary's Church, the mother church of Southampton. During the club's early days, it was known as Southampton St Mary's. This was then shortened to Southampton, but 'the Saints' remained as the nickname.

Spain's La Liga

Team Nickname(s) Explanation/ Translation
Athletic Club Los Leones, Los Rojiblancos The Lions, The Red and Whites
Atletico Madrid Los Colchoneros, Los Rojiblancos  The Mattress Makers, The Red and Whites
Barcelona Blaugrana In Catalan, 'blau' means blue and 'grana' translates to deep red
Celta Vigo Os Celestes The Sky Blues
Deportivo Alaves Los Babazorros, El Glorioso  'Baba' refers to 'fava' beans, and 'zorro' means 'sack', The Glorious One
Eibar Los Armeros The Gunsmiths
Espanyol Los Periquitos, Los Blanquiazules The Budgerigars, The White and Blues
Getafe Los Azulones The Deep Blues 
Granada Los Nazaries Nasrids (referencing the Nazrid Dynasty)
Leganes Los Pepineros The Cucumber Growers
Levante Los Granotas The Frogs
Mallorca Los Bermellones The Vermilions
Osasuna Los Rojillos The Reds
Real Betis Betis, Los Verderones, Los Heliopolitans Lilywhites, The Big Greens, The Heliopolitans
Real Madrid Los Blancos, Meringues The Whites, The Meringues
Real Sociedad Txuri-urdinak The Whites and Blues
Real Valladolid Los Albivioletas  The White and Violets
Sevilla Los Rojiblancos, Los Hispalenses The White and Reds, The Ones from Hispalis
Valencia Los Che In Valencian, 'che' is the same as saying 'hey'
Villarreal El Submarino Amarillo The Yellow Submarine

Deportivo Alaves' nickname comes from the Basque language. 'Baba' references fava beans, and zorro means 'sack'. So, in an allusion to the large amounts of favas that were produced in the Alava province, Alaves are literally called 'the beanbags'. 

In the Valencian style of speaking, saying 'che' is the same as saying 'hey'. ‘Levantinos’, who hail from the east coast of Spain, are easily identifiable throughout the rest of the country by their usage of this slang term.

In 1967, Villarreal (who play in yellow) were promoted to Spain’s third division. Around that time, a band called Los Mustangs covered 'Yellow Submarine', originally by the Beatles. The cover became popular in Spain, and so, Villarreal became known as 'the Yellow Submarine'!

Italy's Serie A

Team Nickname(s) Explanation/ Translation
Atalanta I Nerazzurri The Black and Blues
Bologna I Rossoblu, I Veltri The Red and Blues, The Greyhounds
Brescia Le Rondinelle, I Biancazzurri The Little Swallows, The White and Blues
Cagliari Gli Isolani The Islanders
Fiorentina La Viola The Purple One
Genoa I Rossoblu, l Grifone The Red and Blues, The Griffin
Hellas Verona I Gialloblu The Yellow and Blues
Inter I Nerazzurri The Black and Blues
Juventus I Bianconeri, La Vecchia Signora The Black and Whites, The Old Lady
Lazio I Biancocelesti The White and Sky Blues
Lecce I Giallorossi The Yellow and Reds
Milan I Rossoneri The Red and Blacks
Napoli Gli Azzurri The Blues
Parma I Gialloblu, I Crociati The Yellow and Blues, The Crusaders
Roma I Giallorossi The Yellow and Reds
Sampdoria I Blucerchiati The Blue-circled (team colours are blue with white, red and black hoops)
Sassuolo I Neroverdi The Black and Greens
SPAL I Biancazzurri The White and Blues
Torino Il Toro, i Granata The Bull, The Maroons
Udinese I Bianconeri The White and Blacks

In Latin, 'Juventus' means youth, so calling the club the 'Old Lady' is an ironic joke as Juventus is one of the oldest clubs in Italian football. For the 'Lady' part, it's understood that this related to fans showing love for their club as they would show love for their other halves.

Germany's Bundesliga

Team Nickname(s) Explanation/ Translation
Augsburg Die Fuggerstadter Residents of the Fugger City
Bayer Leverkusen Die Werkself The Company XI
Bayern Die Roten The Reds
Borussia Dortmund Die Schwarzgelben The Black and Yellow
Borussia Monchengladbach Die Fohlen The Foals
Eintracht Frankfurt Die Adler The Eagles
Fortuna Dusseldorf Die Flingeraner From the district of Flingern
Freiburg Breisgau-Brasilianer Brazilians of Breisgau
Hertha Berlin Die Alte Dame The Old Lady
Hoffenheim Die Kraichgauer From the Kraichgau region
Koln Die Geissbocke The Billy Goats
Leipzig  Die Roten Bullen The Red Bulls
Mainz Die Nullfunfer The O-Fives
Paderborn N/A  
Schalke Die Konigsblauen The Royal Blue
Union Berlin Die Eisernen The Iron Ones
Werder Bremen Die Grun-Weissen  The Green-Whites
Wolfsburg Die Wolfe The Wolves

Bayer Leverkusen was founded by employees of the pharmaceutical company Bayer AG, which which is alluded to in their nickname (which translates to 'The Company XI').

Koln's nickname is a reference to the club's mascot, a male goat named Hennes who, in turn, was named after former Koln player and manager Hennes Weisweiler. 

Augsburg is known as the Fuggerstadt (the Fugger city). It acknowledges the Fugger family, who were a notable business and banking entity during the Renaissance period.

Paderborn don't really have a nickname, though the club still have an interesting backstory. For many years, Paderborn had two football clubs – TuS Schloss Neuhaus and Paderborn. They eventually merged into TuS Paderborn/Neuhaus in 1985, and officially changed their name to SC Paderborn 07 in 1997. The 07 refers to 1907, the year TuS Schloss Neuhaus was founded.

North America's MLS

Team Nickname(s)
Atlanta United The Five Stripes
Chicago Fire Men in Red
FC Cincinnati The Orange and Blue
Colorado Rapids The Rapids
Columbus Crew The Crew
FC Dallas The Hoops
D.C. United The Black and Red
Houston Dynamo Orange Crush, La Naranja (The Orange)
LA Galaxy The Galaxy
Los Angeles FC N/A
Minnesota United FC The Loons
Montreal Impact N/A
New England Revolution The Midnight Riders
New York City FC The Pigeons, The Bronx Blues, The Boys in Blue
New York Red Bulls The Metros
Orlando City SC The Lions
Philadelphia Union The U
Portland Timbers The Timbers
Real Salt Lake The Claret and Cobalt
San Jose Earthquakes The Quakes, The Goonies
Seattle Sounders FC The Sounders
Sporting Kansas City The Wizards
Toronto FC The Reds
Vancouver Whitecaps The Blue and Whites, The Caps