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Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 13:59 GMT
What's in a name?

BBC Sport's Mo Allie in Cape Town looks at the weird and wonderful world of nicknames in South African football

Moshoeu got the nickname as a child
John Moshoeu is universally known as Shoes

Ever heard of Stability Unit, Black Sunday or Rhoo?

Believe it or not, those are some of the nicknames given to some of South Africa's leading footballers by the fans of their respective clubs.

"Most of the nicknames come from the supporters.

"The names reflect the way you relate to them and the way you display your skills.

"It makes creates great relationship between players and supporters," says former Bafana Bafana midfielder, John Moshoeu, who is universally known by his nickname 'Shoes'.

The 37-year-old Moshoeu himself cannot remember how he got his nickname - but he has had it since he was a child.

Kaizer Chiefs fan Maloko Lichaba offers an interesting insight into how the players get their nicknames.

"Usually one or two people mention a nickname in a pub or a shebeen and fans familiarise themselves with that name.

"They go the stadium and start chanting that name and the next thing you know is that the newspapers use the name and it stays," he says.

Lucas Radebe was given the nickname "Rhoo" because of the echo it creates around the stadium
Maloko Lichaba

Although most of the names are original and relate to the players' physical appearance or style of play, some have been taken from television programmes or movies.

Some players are even named after racehorses!

For example, in the 1970s Chiefs had a pacy winger, Leonard Likoebe, who earned the nickname Wagga Wagga after the horse with that name that won the famous July Handicap in Durban.

The former Orlando Pirates defender Gavin Lane was given the nickname Stability Unit because of his ability to organise the defence and sort things out.

Even foreigners like Chiefs striker Kambamba Musasa who was signed from the DR Congo club TP Mazembe are also given nicknames.

"Musasa was named Black Sunday because the goals he scored for them eliminated us from a tournament.

"He scored the goals on a Sunday which, for our supporters, turned into a Black Sunday," says Chiefs PRO, Putco Mafani.

Radebe in Bafana Bafana colours
Lucas Radebe is nicknamed 'Rhoo'

Sometimes the nickname doesn't even relate to the appearance or style of the player.

As Maloko Lichaba says it could simply have a nice ring to it.

"Lucas Radebe was given the nickname "Rhoo" because of the echo it creates around the stadium - so every time he touches the ball the crowd would chant "Rhoo".

"It gives you goosebumps."

The same applies to Mark Fish - whenever he touches the ball the crowd would chant "Feeesh".

Interestingly, while most nicknames stick to the players, the nickname given to Fish while he was still playing for Jomo Cosmos didn't.

"We decided to call him Fish and Chips, but an official from Cosmos asked us to drop the name because he didn't like it," says football journalist Sibusiso M'Seleku, who was himself responsible for coining the name Bafana Bafana for the South African national team.

Jordaan stands firm
28 Dec 03  |  African
Fish out of SA squad
24 Dec 03  |  African
SA name Nations Cup squad
11 Dec 03  |  African

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