Dear soccer and language lovers, UEFA Champions League is finally back this week and it gave me the idea of creating two Dream Teams from the language perspective. The Most Diverse vs The Polyglots. Wanna know the languages spoken by famous players? Here’s the kick-off of our Language & Soccer All-Star Game!
The Most Diverse
Imagine you can draft your favorite players to build the strongest team possible. But you need to follow one rule, each player must have a different native language. So how would you start? Who would you pick first? Messi or Suarez for Spanish? Neymar or CR7 for Portuguese?
This team of globetrotters has usually played in several leagues, and each player speaks at least 3 languages, following strictly the definition of what a polyglot is. And beside their football skills we of course love them for that!
Although he speaks many languages and could have been in the Polyglot team, I choose him for his reliable talent and his Czech language skills. He moved to France at the age of 20, then to England 2 years later. He can now even rap according to his teammate Aaron Ramsey. By the way, do you know how to properly pronounce his name?
Beside being one of the best at his position, the Chelsea and Belgium goalkeeper speaks Dutch, Spanish, French, English and German. Hear him in his non-native English talk about training at Chelsea.
The talented Algerian was born and played in France, speaks French, Arabic, Berber and Italian. He’s currently attracting a lot of major clubs in Europe, including PSG, OM and even the Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich. Hear his former coach Christophe Galtier praise him in French.
I guess it’s fair to pick a German defender, due to the Franz Beckenbauer legacy. Boateng was born in Germany and always lived there. Despite the fact he’s monolingual, he remains without any doubt one of the world’s best defender. You can hear him speak German in this short interview.
The Croatian and Liverpool defender speaks an impressive number of 8 languages: Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, English, German, Macedonian and French! Here’s a fan-made video of the winning goal against Dortmund in 4 different languages.
After Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta, Italy squad has Leonardo Bonucci. I could have chosen Giorgio Chiellini but I’m personally more fan of Serie A’s player of the year in 2016 and future captain of the Italy squad when Gianlugi Buffon and De Rossi retire. You can hear him give his top 11 players in Italian in this video.
The Swiss defender has played for Arsenal, Milan, Valencia (among others). He now speaks French, Serbian, Spanish, German, Italian and English. You can hear him and his accent talk about Joey Barton in this funny slip of tongue.
Manolas is currently an important player for AS Roma and Greece. Being in Italy for 3 years now, he now speaks Italian fluently and will probably fly at the end of the season to a new league and linguistic challenge? A short video of the national team eating and speaking Greek before the World Cup 2014.
The Swiss Defender and polyglot whose nickname is Forrest Gump or Swiss Express, speaks German, Dutch, Italian and French. Have you seen him take the escalator while the other players are taking the stairs?
The most expensive player of all-time. But that record won’t hold for too long in my humble opinion. He not only speaks French, Italian and English, but also dances and raps. But do all those skills justify a 120M€ transfer?
The former Arsenal players speaks German, Polish and English, and probably a little Turkish since he’s been playing for Galatasaray now. Practice your Turkish listening skills while watching Podolski play basketball and attempt to score a basket from half-court.
The most talented Croatian player according to me. He moved from Croatia to England at 23 and to Spain at 27. How to say interview in Croatian? “Intervju”.
The Armenian midfielder is not only chosen for his incredible scorpion goal with Manchester but mostly because he speaks 6 and very different languages including French, Russian, English, Portuguese, German and of course Armenian.
He’s not the Captain Tsubasa we all expect to see one day, but he’s doing pretty well against 55 kids at the same time. He speaks also English and German. Ike Kagawa!
Yes, another Croatian but the talented midfielder and polyglot speaks 5 languages, including Italian, French, Spanish, German and Croatian. You can hear him speak and answer questions in Spanish in this video.
For Portuguese/Brazilian language, a few years earlier I probably would have picked Ronaldinho and a few years later Neymar. Two amusing facts about him, he has now more FIFA Ballon d’or than he knows languages (Portuguese, English and Spanish), and he has been in a terrible imitation of the movie “Home Alone” in a Portuguese commercial.
Robben speaks 4 languages after having played for Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern, including his native Dutch, English, Spanish and German. Beside his language skills, his goal against Spain in 2015 is particularly impressive, showing his favorite dribble.
Wouldn’t it been exciting to see CR7 and Messi playing in the same team? Messi speaks no other languages than Spanish and Catalan but I guess being the best soccer player ever gives him a solid excuse. Hear him speak Spanish in a interview with his Argentinian teammate, Sergio Agüero.
I hope you do remember those 5 goals in 9 minutes against Werder Bremen. Beside speaking Polish, English and German, he understands a bit of Spanish according to this interview in his native language.
AS Roma striker speaks 7 languages, including Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Slovenian, English, Czech and Italian! For a advert back in Manchester, watch him try to pronounce “Happy birthday” in Chinese in this video.
Lampard, Gerrard, Terry, Rooney, my favorite English players are aging and retiring. Kane will do the job in scoring, even though I’m unsure I’d give him the free kicks to shoot. See him discover and being disappointed by his Fifa rating in this video.
The Swedish superstar and Manchester striker speaks 4 languages fluently, including Bosnian, Swedish, Italian, English and a little French and Spanish. Watch him give a speech in French as Marco Verratti and Salvatore Sirigu are making fun of him and his accent.
So who do you think will win between the two? Do you think that common languages will help the Polyglots against Messi and CR7? Share comments and your own team selection below.