Vennegoor of Hesselink’s name is back on the football field. Thanks to his son Lucas, who is posing next to his father Jan in the photo. Source: Facebook @FCTwente
Vennegoor of Hesselink’s name is back on the football field. Thanks to his son Lucas, who is posing next to his father Jan in the photo. Source: Facebook @FCTwente

The longest name in the football world is back! But how did it even come about?

Football OlyBet 22.04.2024

If the South Americans wanted to, they could tie the tongues of all soccer commentators. Because if Manuel Francisco dos Santos were to pass the ball to Edson Arantes do Nascimento, it would be a mouthful. Fortunately, the football world knows them as Garrincha and Pele.

However, football players with long names can also be found elsewhere. When the Estonian football team played against Thailand last year, for example, Kampon Pathomakkaku and Phitiwat Sookjitthammaku ran onto the field – well, not the easiest names to pronounce.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink is generally considered to be the owner of the longest name in the football world, which is used on a shirt. Even though the Dutchman called it quits a dozen years ago, this name is now back on football courts.

Namely, Lucas, the 18-year-old son of the 19-time Dutch international, recently signed a professional contract with FC Twente.

So he begins his football path the same way as his father because, during his career, Jani’s – who also wore the shirt of PSV Eindhoven, Glasgow Celtic, Hull City and Vienna Rapid – first home club was at Twente.

At the same time, he is a youngster with as sharp a foot as his father: he has scored 18 goals in 20 matches for the Twente U18 team this year. Therefore, it should not be surprising if, in a few years, we see the 22-character long name on the shirts of much bigger clubs.

In this regard, of course, it is worth hoping that these teams and their shirt manufacturers are also ready for this, because if you remember how Hull City used to fit Vennegoor of Hesselink on their back…

In the other teams, however, the long surname did not cause major problems and it was (much) easier to fit on the shirt. But speaking of that name and length, where does it even come from? And what does it mean?

Being influenced by the English language one might think at first glance that Jan Vennegoor is simply from Hesselink. In reality, however, such a city, town or village cannot be found anywhere. Besides, the other famous interjections “van” and “van der” are the ones that correspond to the English preposition “from”, i.e. they talk about the location.

Indeed, Rafael van der Vaart’s surname means “Rafael from the canal” – Vaart means canal in Dutch – and Ruud van Nistelrooy, in turn, he is from the village of Nistelrode.

One family was forthcoming towards another

The word “of” in the name of Vennegoor of Hesselink is the conjunction “or” in Dutch, so in direct translation, the name is ”Vennegoor or Hesselink”.

Does this mean that his (grand)parents couldn’t decide which name to choose at the time? Basically yes…

Namely, the roots of the surname go back to the 17th century, when two families – the Vennegoors and the Hesselinks – lived near the small Dutch town of Enschede with 158,000 inhabitants, both of the same status and class.

Since Jan’s ancestor, who had to marry, would have been the last of the Hesselink line, the Vennegoors decided to welcome another family, allowing the name Vennegoor of Hesselink after the marriage.

So essentially, in Dutch, “of” is a hyphen (Vennegoor–Hesselink), which is also often found in Estonian (married) names. To conclude this name’s story, another fun fact – Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink’s first name is not really Jan, but instead Johannes.

Fathers and their strange choices

Of course, there are dozens of different names to write about in football. There are humorous ones (Danny Shittu, Fabian Assmann, Dean Windass) and some that make you scratch your head. Because you can’t escape your surname but you can do this with your first name.

For example, what was going through the minds of the Gonçalves family from Brazil, who named their child Marx Lenin? It is said that it has nothing to do with communism, but the mother of the family simply wanted to make a slightly more playful version of the father’s name – Antonio Marques Gonçalves.

From there, came the first name Marx. However, where Lenin came from, the footballer could not say in an interview with the Latin American Post in 2017.

However, Osama Vinladen Jiménez López, who plays in the Peruvian championship, the player name – you guessed it – Osama Vinladen (the letter “v” is pronounced as “b” in Spanish) could talk about the origin of his name.

“When Osama bin Laden smashed the Twin Towers back in the day, his name was all over the news. That’s how I was born with that name a year later,” the footballer told Què T’hi Jugues about his “original” story.

It was indeed some kind of oddity from the father’s side, because… “My brother’s name is Saddam Hussein, and the father wanted to name the third child George Bush, but it turned out to be a girl,” Vinladen said.

Growing up, a name like this also caused certain problems for the football player, so he thought about changing it, but for now, the young man has made peace with the name.

“In Peru, for example, there is a person whose first name is Hitler, and although Jesus saved the world, there are also many Jesuses in the world who do bad things. Just because one Osama killed a lot of people doesn’t mean that name should be banned. But it attracts attention,” concluded the Peruvian.


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