Nicknames Of National Football Teams: Listed From A-Z

Nicknames Of National Football Teams

One of the most difficult things for new fans to understand are the nicknames of national football teams.

What? You thought that national teams playing in the World Cup were just called “Nigeria” or “England”? Nope—they have nicknames.

There are some cool ones, some weird ones and some stupid ones!

You’ll see a bit of all three in this list.

These national football teams and their nicknames are not all official names, and you’d be surprised to learn that some national teams use more than one nickname.

I have exhaustively tried to find the most commonly used nickname, and included them in this article. As you’d see, these national soccer team nicknames are commonly derived from the color of their playing strip or country flag, or an animal associated with the country.

Nicknames Of African Football Teams

African football teams have always had unusual nicknames, and this has become a tradition in the continent. Most of the teams are nicknamed after animals as they represent life, strength, and courage.

Some nicknames were made by the fans which are usually related to the colours of their flags or natural phenomena in the country.

SEE ALSO | Richest Footballer In Africa – Top 10 & Their Net Worth

Nigeria Soccer Team Nickname

I’m not going to go on without mention the Nigeria national team in particular.

Just as the Algeria football team, Senegal national team, Brazil national team – and so on and so forth – all have nicknames, so does Nigeria.

The Nigeria national football team are nicknamed Super Eagles and they are governed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

Meanwhile, I have this article where I made a list of super eagles coaches – and I mean ALL of them from inception till date.

National Football Team Nicknames

Let me attempt to examine the nicknaming practice of national football teams.

Each teams are known by their nations’ respective official name.

However, it has been observed that in addition to the official name, most if not all national football teams tend to bear a nickname.

In most cases, such nicknames of football teams reveal linguistic creativity; innovation and unlimited imagination on the part of the namers.

This practice of nicknaming in football also exhibits the nature of social interaction between human beings and other animate and inanimate beings alike in the world in which they are found. 

For this reason, the interchange between the two above indicates that a nickname, like a proper name, is: “a social statement reflecting the bearer, the namer and the social environment in which the name is found.

Nicknames in football show connotative meanings that reflect deep rooted social, political and national pride and patriotism of the people for their respective nations.

This in turn appears to foreground a nation’s expectations of success in soccer.

Nickname definition and what it really means

The term nickname has been defined as a name given to an individual [or even a collective entity] by a community which is usually descriptive in form because it tends to sum up that individual [or group] character’s physical shape or idiosyncratic features.

What’s more, nicknames act as tokens for establishing an informal relaxed atmosphere”.

Nicknames are evocative and carry particular messages. Meaning nicknames are not mere empty word but are words that say something about their referents.

Africans have their own naming system that reflect their linguistic diversity and link them to their own cultural and social values and traditions.

In the context of football, national teams bear nicknames that are given purposefully and which reflect the national team’s fighting spirit.

Unlike proper names which are usually given by someone or by an institution and are easily identifiable, nicknames in soccer may be given by either sport journalists as they write their news stories or by football fans through associating what they see to what they expect or what is already known.

The following is a list of football team nicknames:

TeamNicknameOrigin
AfghanistanTeam Mellimeaning “the National Team” (in Persian)
AlbaniaKuqezijte“the Red and Blacks” (in Albanian)
AlgeriaLes FennecsThe Desert Foxes (in French)
American SamoaAu Filli“the National Team” (in Samoan)
Andorrala Seleccio Tricolor“the Tricolor Selection” (in Catalan)
AngolaOs Palancas NegrasThe Black Antelopes (in Portuguese)
Anguillathe Rainbow Warriors or "the Soccer Dolphins"
Antigua and Barbudathe Wadadi BoyzWadadi is a local dance
Argentinala Albiceleste“the White and Sky Blues” (in Spanish)
ArmeniaAzgayin Havaqakan“the National Team” in Armenia
ArubaLa Selección“the Selection”
Australiathe Socceroosa hybrid word from Soccer and Kangaroo (a native animal to Australia)
AustriaWunderteammeaning the Wonder Team (also das Team, die Rot-Weiss-Roten - “the Red, White and Reds” in German)
AzerbaijanOdlar Yurdu Komandasi“the Team from the Land of Fire” in Azeri
Bahamasthe Rake and Scrape Boysnamed after a local dance
BahrainAl Theeb Al Ahmarmeaning “the Red Wolves” in Arabic
BangladeshJatyia Dol“the National Team” in Bengali
BarbadosBajan PrideBajan is a popular team for citizens of Barbados
BelarusBelyia krylywhich means "White wings". Previously it was "Nacionalnaya Sbornaya" meaning “the National Team” in Belorussian.
Belgiumles Diables Rouges / Rode Duivelsmeaning 'the Red Devils' (in French and Dutch)
BelizeThe Jaguars
BeninLes EcureuilsThe Squirrels (in French)
Bermudathe Gombey Warriorsafter a traditional dance
Bhutanthe Yellow Dragonsalso Druk XI (“the Dragons XI” in Dzongkha)
BoliviaLa VerdeLa Verde means 'The Green' or to some 'The Green Pasture' because of one of the colors of the national flag.
Bosnia-HerzegovinaZmajevi
("The Dragons")Zmajevi means "The Dragons". It is a popular nickname of all Bosnian sport players. In foreign media, the team is sometimes referred to as the Golden Lilies. Other names that have been used include: BH Representacija - “the National Team” (in Bosnian), and Zuto-Plavi (“the Blue and Yellows” in Bosnian).
BotswanaDipitse ("The Zebras")meaning "The Zebras" in the Tswana lanuage
BrazilCanarinho, or SeleçãoCanarinho means 'little canary', and Seleção means The Selection/Team (in Portuguese). Other names that are sometimes used are Verde-Amarela (Green and Yellow)
Pentacampeões (Five Time Champions), and Os Tupis - The "tupis" (a brazilian indigenous group)
British Virgin Islandsthe Nature Boyz
Brunei DarussalamTebuanmeaning "The Wasps" or “the Hornets” in Malay.
BulgariaLavovete“the Lions” in Bulgarian
Burkina Fasoles Etalonsthe Stallions” in French
Burundiles Hirondelles – Intamba Mu Rugamba“the Swallows” in French and Kirundi
CambodiaKrom Chumreswcheit“the National Team” in Khmer
CameroonLions indomitablesmeaning Indomitable Lions (in French)
Canadathe CanucksCanucks is a slang term for Canadians. Also Les Rouges, meaning 'The Reds'
Cape VerdeTubaroes Azuis“the Blue Sharks” (in Portuguese). Also Crioulos (“the Creoles” in Portuguese)
Cayman IslandsCayman Islands Teammaybe "The Turtles"
Central African Republicles Faons d’Ubangui“the Fwans of Ubangui”, a tributary of the Congo river, in French
Chadles Saoafter the Sao civilization that once inhabited part of Chad
ChileLa RojaThe Reds (in Spanish)
ChinaTeam China – Zhong Guo Dui,also Team Dragon – Long Zhi Dui
Chinese TaipeiZhong Hua Dui“China Team” in Chinese
ColombiaLos Cafeterosmeaning The Coffee Growers in Spanish. Also “the Tricolors”
Comorosles Coelecantes“the Coelecanths” in French, a prehistoric fish once believed to be extinct but which has reappeared off the coast of Comoros
Congoles Diables Rouges“the Red Devils” in French
Congo DRLes Léopards / The LeopardsBetween 1960 and 1965, they were called the Lions. From 1965 till 1997 they were the Leoopards, before reverting back to the Simbas (“the Lions” in Swahili) from 1997 till 2006. However this Swahili name was unpopular to non-Swahili speakers, so they again became the Leopards.
Cook IslandsSoka Kuki Airani“the National Team” in Maori, the Green and Whites
Costa RicaLos TicosSpanish slang for natives of Costa Rica. Also la Tricolor (“the Tricolors” in Spanish), la Roja (“the Reds”), la Sele (“the Selection”
Cote d’IvoireLes ÉléphantsThe Elephants (in French), due to their part in the 19th century Ivory trade
CroatiaVatrenimeaning Fiery boys. Also sometimes Kockasti (The Chequereds)
Cubala Tricolormeaning “the Tricolors” (in Spanish). Also los Leones del Caribe (“the Lions of the Caribbean”)
Curaçao?
CyprusI Galanolefki“the White and Blues” in Greek
Czech RepublicLokomotivaThe Locomotive. Also Cesti Lvi ( "the Czech Lions” in Czech), Narodny Tym (“the National Team” in Czech)
DemarkDanish Dynamite
Djiboutiles Riverains de la Mer Rougethe Young Red Sea in French
DominicaDominica Teammaybe "los Pericos"
Dominican Republiclos Quisqueyanosa slang term for Dominicans in Spanish
Ecuadorla Tri or la Tricolorthe Tricolor (in Spanish)
Egyptthe Pharaohs
El SalvadorLos Guanacos or La Selecta“Guanaco” is Spanish slang for citizens of El Salvador
Englandthe Three Lions
Equatorial Guineala Nzalang Nacional“the National Lighting” (in Fang). Also Veve Nacional (“the National Sparkle” in Fang).
Eritreathe Red Sea Boys
EstoniaSinisargid“the Blues” in Estonian
EthiopiaWalyasa species of wild goat
Faroe IslandsLandslidid“the National Team” in Faroese
FijiBula BoysBula is a fijian greeting. Also sometimes "Timi ni viti", meaning “the National Team” in Fijian
FinlandSinivalkoiset“the White and Blues” in Finnish
Franceles Bleusmeaning 'the blues' in French
GabonLes Panthèresthe Panthers” in French
Gambiathe Scorpions
GeorgiaJvarosnebimeaning “the Crisaders” in Georgian. Also Erovnuli Nakrevi (“the National Team” in Georgian)
GermanyDie Nationalmannschaft, or Die Nationalelfmeaning 'The National Team', 'The National Eleven' (in German). Outside of Germany, simply 'Die Mannschaft' (The Team) is commonly used.
Ghanathe Black Starsa reference to the sole black star on Ghana's flag
GreeceI Galanolefkitranslates as “the Sky Blue and White team” in Greek. They are also sometimes referred to as Ethniki Ellados (“the Greek Team” in Greek) and ''To Peiratikó'' (“Pirates” in Greek) though the pirates is not an official nickname, it just came about after they won Euro 2004.
Grenadathe Spice Boyz
GuamMataoMatao refers to the people in the upper class of the ancient Guam society. Previously the team was known as "the Men in Blue and White".
Guatemalael Equipo Chapin“Chapin” is Spanish slang for a citizen of Guatemala. also la Azul y Blanco (“the Blue and Whites” in Spanish) and la Bicolor (“the Bicolors”)
GuineaSyli Nationalethe National Elephants. Syli is a word in Sousou, a Guinean language, which means Elephant.
Guinea-Bissauos DjurtusCreole for a species of fox
GuyanaThe Golden Jaguars, the Guy Stars
Haitiles Bicoloresles Bicolores means “the Bicolors” in French. There are also several other names that they are known by, including:
Les Grenadiers
Le Rouge et Bleu
La Sélection Nationale
l’Onze national (“the National Eleven” in French)
Toup Pou Yo
HondurasLos CatrachosCatracho is Spanish slang for a citizen of Honduras, therefore meaning 'the Hondurans'. Also la Bicolor (“the Bicolors” in Spanish)
Hong KongHong Kong Team
HungaryValogatott“the National Team” in Hungarian). Also the Magical Magyars (particularly in relation to the Hungary team of the 1950s)
IcelandStrakamir Okkar“Our Boys” in Icelandic
IndiaBlue TigersThe Indian National team are also sometimes referred to as the "Bhangra Boys" (Bhangra is a dance originating from the Punjab region)
IndonesiaMerah Putihmeaning “the Red and Whites”. Another nickname for the Indonesian Football Team is "Garuda" (see comments below)
IranTeam Mellimeaning the National Team (in Persian). Also Shirants Perse / Shiran-e Pars (“the Persian Lions” in Persian).
IraqOsod Al Rafideen“the Lions of the Two Rivers” in Arabic, also the Babylon Lions
IsraelNivheret Hatchelet“the Sky Blue Team” in Hebrew
ItalyAzzurriAzzurri is the plural of Azurro (Blue), terefore Azurri means "The Blues". The team is also sometimes referred to as la Nazionale (“the National Team”).
JamaicaReggae Boyz
JapanSamurai Bluesalso Nihon Daihyo (“Japanese Representatives” in Japanese)
JordanAl Nashama“the Brave” in Arabic
KazakhstanKazakhstanskie barsy“the Snow Leopards” in Russian
Kenyathe Harambee Stars“Harambee” means “We will work together” in Swahili and is also the country’s motto.
North Korea (Korea DPR)ChollimaA Korean mythical horse, translates as "thousand-mile horse" and is portrayed as a mythical winged horse.
South Korea (Korea Republic)Asian Tigers or Taeguk Warriorsalso the Red Devils. The Taeguk symbol of two hands clasping is in the middle of the Korean flag.
KuwaitAl Azraq“the Blues” in Arabic
KyrgyzstanKrasnaya Sbornaya“the Red Team” in Russian
LaosThim Xad“the National Team” in Laos
LatviaIzlase“the National Team” in Latvian
LebanonAl Aarz“the Team of Cedars” in Arabic
Lesothothe Likuena“the Crocodile” in Sesotho
Liberiathe Lone Star
LibyaAl Akhdar“the Greens” in Arabic
LiechtensteinNatishort for “Nationalmannschaft”, meaning “National Team” in German
LithuaniaRinktine“the National Team” in Lithuanian
LuxembourgD’Leiwen“the Lions” in Luxembourgish
Macaua Equipa Verde“the Green Team” in Portuguese
Macedonia (Republic of North)Црвени Рисови /
Crveni Risovi“The Red Lynx”. Also known as Црвено-Жолти / Crveno-Žolti, meaning Red-Yellow.
MadagascarBareasa species of zebu, which appears of the country’s coat of arms
Malawithe Flamesthe word “Malawi” itself means “flames” in Chichewa
MalaysiaHarimau Malaysia“Malaysian Tigers”
MaldivesRed SnappersThe Red snapper is type of fish abundant in the waters around the Maldives. The team has also been known as Guamee Team - “the National Team” in Dhivehi.
MaliLes AiglesThe Eagles (in French)
MaltaKnights of St John
Mauritaniales Mourabitounesafter an ancient dynasty that ruled Mauritania
MauritiusClub MAlso "les Dodos" after the dodo bird
Mexicoel Tri / el Tricolor / Tricoloresalso less commonly uses the alternative nickname of "Los Aztecas".
MoldovaSelectionata“the Selection” in Moldovan
MongoliaBlue Wolves
( Хөх чононууд )Blue Wolf is a symbol of Turkic and Mongolian people.
Named after the Mongolian Blue Wolf legend. The team has also been known in the past as "Shegshee", which means “the National Team” in Mongolian.
MontenegroHrabri sokoli“The Brave Falcons” in Serbian
Montserratthe Emerald Boys
Moroccoles Lions de l’Atlas, Atlas Lions“the Lions of Atlas” (in French), named after the Atlas Mountains
Mozambiquethe Mambasthe most poisonous snake in Africa
MyanmarWhite Angelsalso Latywesinahthin, “the National Team” in Myanmar
Namibiathe Brave Warriors
NepalGorkhalisGorkhalis means the inhabitants of Gorkha. Nepal was frequently called the Gorkhali Kingdom. Sometimes they are also called "Rastriya Toli", meaning “the National Team” in Nepalese.
Netherlands / HollandOranjemeaning 'orange' (in Dutch)
Netherlands Antillese Selekshon“the Selection” in Papiamento
New Caledoniales CagousFrench for the kagu bird that is native to New Caledonia. Also known as les Rouges et Gris (“the Red and Greys” in French).
New Zealandthe All Whites
Nicaraguala Azul y Blancomeaning “the Blues and Whites”. Also known as el Equipo Pinolero (“Pinolero” is a slang for a citizen of Nicaragua)
Nigerthe Menaa species of antelope
Nigeriathe Super Eaglesa reference to the Eagle in the country's Coat of Arms. The name was changed from Green Eagles to the Super Eagles.
Northern Mariana IslandsBlue AyuyusIn the local Chamorro dialect, the "y" is pronounced like a "z." So it is pronounced ah-zu-zus. An ayuyu is a large land crab that is prized as a delicacy. Both the men and women's teams use this nickname.
Northern Irelandthe Green and White Army
NorwayLandslaget“the National Team” in Norwegian
OmanAl Ahmar“the Reds” in Arabic
Pakistanthe Green and White Team
PalestineAl Muntakhab“the National Team” in Arabic
PanamaMarea Roja“the Red Tide”. Also known as el Equipo Canalero (“the Canal Team”)
Papua New GuineaPNG Team – Nesenol Tim“the National Team” in Tok Pisin
ParaguayGuaraníesalso La Albirroja (White and red in Spanish)
Perula Blanquirroja“the White and Reds” in Spanish
PhilippinesAzkalsDerived from the word askal, meaning “the Stray Dogs” in Philipino. They are also known as the "Tri-Stars" (From the three stars on their flag).
PolandBialo-CzerwoniWhite-Reds ( in Polish). Also Polskie Orly (“ the Polish Eagles” in Polish)
PortugalSelecção das Quinasin Portuguese the word "QUINAS" is a 5 sided Polyhedron, representing the "Forts" (Castles) Conquered from the Moors, in the "Foundation" of Portugal in 1143.
Puerto RicoEl Huracán AzulSpanish for "The Blue Hurricane"
QatarAl Ennabi“the Crimsons” in Arabic
Republic of Irelandthe Boys in Green
RomaniaTricoloriiThree Colored Ones (in Romanian)
RussiaSbornayaThe nickname Sbornaya for Russia is foreign. In Russian it's not a nickname but just a noun (originally an adjective) meaning 'national team' or 'selected team', i.e. the word is applied to any national/selected team in any sport.
RwandaAmavubi“the Wasps” in Kinyarwanda
SamoaManumeaafter a native bird
San Marinola Serenissima“the Most Serene” in Italian
Sao Tome e Principeos Verde-Amarelos“the Green and Yellows” in Portuguese
Saudi ArabiaAl Sogour Al Akhdar“the Green Hawks/Falcons” (in Arabic). Also Ouilad Al Sahraa (“the Sons of the Desert” in Arabic)
ScotlandThe Tartan Terriersthe "Tartan Army" is also used, particularly in reference of Scotland’s fans
SenegalLes Lions de la TerangaThe Lions of Teranga / the Lions of Hospitality (in French). “Teranga” originates from the Wolof language.
SerbiaPlavithe blue, or Orlovi (“the eagles” in Serbian)
Seychellesthe Pirates
Sierra Leonethe Leones Stars
Singaporethe Lions
SlovakiaRepreIn Slovakia the team is typically referred to as the Repre (Representation) or Národný tím (National team). However, in foreign media, they are often incorrectly described as Bojovní Jondovci (The Fighting Jondas).
SloveniaFantjeMeaning 'the boys'.However, the team's wikipedia page says that Slovenia does not have a nickname. They are sometimes incorrectly called The (Green) Dragons, a symbol of the Slovenian capital Ljubljana. There are also some references that the Slovenian team nickname is Reprezentanca, meaning “the Representatives” in Slovenian.
Solomon Islandsthe Bonitosafter a species of fish similar to tuna
Somaliathe Ocean Stars
South AfricaBafana Bafanathe boys, the boys in isiZulu.The name was coined by journalist Sibusiso Mseleku in 1992
SpainLa Furia Rojameaning 'The Red Fury'. Also la Seleccion (“the Selection” in Spanish).
Sri LankaBrave Redsalso sometimes known as Papandu Kandyama, which means “the National Team” in Sinhalese.
St Kitts and NevisThe Sugar Boyz
St LuciaThe Piton
St Vincent and the Grenadinesthe Vincy Heat
SudanSokoor Al-JedianeDesert Hawks. Also the Nile Crocodiles
SurinameNatioNatio stands for the abbreviation of national, and national refers to national team. Other names that are used are A-Selektie, which means “the A Selection” in Dutch, and Suriboys.
SwazilandSihlangu Semnikati“the Shield of His Majesty” in Swaz
SwedenBlågultthe Blue and Yellows (in Swedish). Also Kronos (“the Crowns” in Swedish).
SwitzerlandSchweizer Nati, or just Natimeaning 'The Nats' – short for Nationals
SyriaAl Ahmarthe Reds” in Arabic
TahitiToa Aitoin Tahitian means "The Iron Warriors". In French, it is Les guerriers de fer. It was previously believed to be "L'Equipe du Fenua", the Island team - “fenua” means “island” in Tahitian.
TajikistanDastai Muntakhabi“the National Team” in Tajik
Tanzaniathe Taifa Stars“Taifa” is Swahili for country. Also known as the Kilimanjaro Stars
Thailand'War Elephants'also known as Team Chart Tai, “the National Team” in Thai
Timor-LesteO Sol NascenteMeaning 'The Rising Sun' in Portugeuese. Also known as The Little Samba Nation and El Lafaek.
Togoles Eperviersthe hawks or Sparrowhawks (in French)
TongaTimi Fakafomua“the National Team” in Tongan
Trinidad & TobagoThe Soca Warriorsnamed after a local musical genre
TunisiaLes Aigles de CarthageThe Eagles of Carthage (in French)
TurkeyAy Yıldızlılar (or Ay Yildizmeaning Crescent Stars
TurkmenistanAkhal-Tekemeaning the Dark Horses
Turks and Caicos IslandsTCI Teammaybe also "the Ripsaw Boys"
Ugandathe Cranesthe bird which appears on their crest
UkraineZbirna or Sbirnanational team (in Ukrainian)
United Arab EmiratesAl Sukoor“the Eagles” in Arabic
UruguayCharrúasalso La Celeste Olímpica (The Olympic Sky Blue)
US Virgin IslandsThe Dashing EagleThe Dashing Eagle is the American symbol of power and grace, transformed to embody the unique optimism, flair, and self-determination of the islands.
USAThe Stars and StripesOther names that are used are Team USA and The Yanks. There does not appear to be an official name.
UzbekistanWhite Wolves (Oq boสปrilar/Oา ะฑั pะธะปap)also sometimes known as Terma Jamoasi, meaning “the National Team” in Uzbek.
Vanuatuthe Men in Black and Gold
Venezuelala Vinotintomeaning “the Burgundies” in Spanish - because of the burgundy color of their shirts. They are also know by the names Los Llaneros (The Plainsmen) and La Remolacha Mecanica (The Clockwork Beet).
VietnamDoituyen Qocdia“the National Team” in Vietnamese. Other names used are: Những chiến binh đỏ (The Red Warriors) and Ngôi sao vàng (The Golden Star).
Walesthe Dragons
YemenAl Yemen al Saeed“Happy Yemen” in Arabic
ZaireLeopards
ZambiaChipolopoloThe Copper Bullets (in Bemba). The word comes from the copper mines in Kitwe. The team was formerly known as the KK 11, after the founding president Kenneth Kaunda, but changed the nickname in 1993.
Zimbabwethe Warriors

In wrapping up

Every name, be it personal or nickname, of anyone or anything tells something about its owner (society/individual) or the namer. Thus, the nicknames tell something about people’s identities and what is most treasured about them.

All the nicknames listed in this post clearly convey some (needed or preferred) attribute of the respective teams.

However, these nicknames do not always reflect the performance of the teams in question but rather merely express the desires of the fans.

Also, the nicknames seem to be used in order to bond fans with respective teams which in turn are used to express the pride and patriotism that fans associate with their respective nations.

This is done by identifying one or two national symbolic emblems which are then adapted to nickname a team.

In so doing, fans are not only showing pride in a nation but also identifying a team as a symbol representing the nation.

SEE ALSO | Best Footballer In The World – Here Are 2020’s Top Ten

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