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Olympics2000

Thursday, 31 August, 2000, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Cole's name-change gamble

BBC Sport Online's Tom Fordyce asks why Andy Cole has decided to change his name, 28 years into his life.

Eagle-eyed football fans will have spotted an unfamiliar name on the Manchester United team-sheet this season - Andrew Cole.

No, Sir Alex Ferguson hasn't signed a new striker. The artist formerly known as Andy has merely requested that he is referred to by his full name from now on.

The question, of course, is why?

Is this Cole's way of showing he has matured as a man, and therefore as a footballer?

Gravitas

'Andrew' certainly carries more gravitas. You can't imagine Andrew Cole releasing a hip-hop version of the Gap Band's "Outstanding", as Andy did last year.

Timothy Sherwood of Tottenham Hotspur
Timothy Sherwood of Tottenham Hotspur
Whether the addition of an extra two letters to his christian name turns him into a top-flight international striker is another matter.

Andy somehow seems speedier and more dangerous than Andrew.

Comedian

Think Andy Warhol, seminal pop-art hero. Andy Kaufman, ground-breaking comedian. Andy Garcia, edgy US actor.

What do you get with Andrews? A member of the Royal Family who likes golf. A corpulent composer responsible for imposing Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat on the world.

The omens are not good.

Preki: from mouthful to manageable
Preki: from mouthful to manageable
And where will it all end? No-one wants to see Cole lining up alongside Edward Sheringham for Man United, or playing in front of Nicholas Barmby, Anthony Adams and Sulzeer Campbell for England.

Formal

It just doesn't work. Going formal reduces a whole legion of hard footballers to the sort of names you'd usually associate with a game of bridge round at the vicar's.

Lesley Ferdinand. Christopher Sutton. Timothy Sherwood.

The only excuse is if your name is such a dreadful mouthful, so unpronounceable, that every time you touch the ball you have commentators eating their own tongues.

Witness former Everton winger Preki - a huge improvement for an English audience on Predrag Radosavlijevic.

Surname

Even Jackie Dziekanowski was a phonetical step-forward from Dariusz Dziekanowski. The forename at least gave you a decent steer on how to pronounce the surname.

Pele: The ultimate name-changer
Pele: The ultimate name-changer
Not that it did the two players' goal-scoring careers any good. Preki was forced to ply his trade with the Kansas City Wizards, while one-time Celtic hero Jackie moved on to Bristol City and alleged brawls in West Country nightclubs.

The last English player to change his forename successfully was Leeds defender Jonathan Woodgate.

For the early part of his career, the youngster was refered to as 'Jonathon'.

It was only midway through last season that the 'o' became an 'a' and 'Jonathan' Woodgate began appearing on team-sheets.

Rumour

Rumour has it that the blame lies with the player himself.

On breaking into the Leeds first-team, he was asked by journalists if his name was spelt with an 'o' or 'a'.

"'O', of course," he replied, looking confused. It was only when he complained to the club's press officer about the way his name was being spelt that he realised the journalists were refering to the last vowel in his name and not the first.

Brazilians

There's only one way to succeed in the name-game, and that's to follow the example of the Brazilians.

Was Luis Nazario De Lima ever going to become a household name? No, but Ronaldo was.

And as for Edson Arantes do Nascimento... well, you know the rest.

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See also:

30 Aug 00 |  Football
Cole boost for Keegan
26 Aug 00 |  Football
Keegan wants Cole truth
24 Aug 00 |  Football
Cole handed England call-up
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