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The bizarre history of football-inspired names: from German Kevins to the 600 Brazilians called Lineker

Gary Lineker
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What did you call me?

When Romanian forward Ciprian Marica moved to Getafe in 2013, he had a slight issue – his surname was a homophobic slur in Spanish... 

Did you have any idea your name was an offensive term in Spanish before you moved to the country? Had it ever been an issue before?

Yes, I knew what my name meant in Spanish even before I went there, but it had never been a problem for me beforehand. I don’t remember exactly when it was that I realised, but I wasn’t too bothered. It wasn’t something that I could influence – so I didn’t feel it was too important.

Did you get much abuse from fans in La Liga? What did you make of it?

Certainly not from my own fans, no. Getafe are a team with a wonderful set of fans and there were never any shouts from supporters that made me feel uncomfortable. Not from the the fans nor from anybody else. But there was a funny situation inside a coffee house, though. I was asked to say my name so that the barista could write it on my cup. Out of habit, I just said, “Marica!” I made the man laugh. I got my coffee, we laughed and then we went on with our lives! 

Is it true you changed the name on the back of your shirt in order to prevent the abuse? Did that help?

Right from the beginning I had my first name, Ciprian, on the back of my shirt. That wasn’t because I was afraid, but because I wanted to avoid the hype and unnecessary attention. You cannot ask to be shown respect if you go onto the pitch and provoke fans. Each time I played for Getafe, there was an excellent atmosphere in the stands and I didn’t ever feel I was under attack because of my name. While I was in Spain I never noticed any homophobic attitude towards me because of my name.

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