While looking back over some past editions of Fiorentina, both senior squads and Primavera, I suddenly realized exactly how goddamn wonderful some of the names that have passed through Florence have been. Therefore, I will now present to you my all-time best-named Viola XI, lined up in a 3-4-1-2. Enjoy.
GK: Neto. Even when he was frustrating the hell out of us, I always found this one to be hysterical. A netminder whose name is actually Neto. And his first name is Norberto, which is also wonderful; the combination of Brazilian footballer and traditionally northern European name is never not funny to me.
CB: Alan Empereur. The Brazilian defender spent 6 years in the Fiorentina academy but never made an appearance with the senior side. He’s currently on loan at Bari from Foggia. More importantly, his last name is Empereur. Elegant, imposing, and just downright cool.
CB: Celeste Pin. There’s so much going on here. Celeste is often a woman’s name. Pin is just sounds goofy. Together, it’s almost Celestial Pin, which sounds like something from a really bad Donnie Yen movie with lots of CG. Pin is a bonafide Viola legend, both for his sterling career and for his wonderful monicker.
CB: Nicolò Gigli. Another academy product who never made the final grade, the 22-year-old is currently playing for Matera on loan from Ternana. With a last name that means “lily,” it’s hard to imagine a better pairing of player and team nickname, as Fiorentina are known as the Gigliati, or “lily-wearers” due to the fleur-de-lis on the crest.
RM: Kevin Diks. We’re still holding out hope for the Dutchman to come good, although he hasn’t been up to the task in Florence thus far. Hopefully a full season of starting at Feyenoord will mean he’s ready for some stiffer competition.
CM: Felipe Melo. A soothing surname for a violent man. What more can you ask for?
CM: Angelo Palombo. A legend at Sampdoria, where he played 459 matches across a decade, he was also a youth prospect who fled Florence when the Cecchi Gori era ended. When translated from Italian, his name is “Angel Dogfish,” who is almost certainly a Carl Hiaasen character.
LM: Federico Balzaretti. In 2008, my roommate and I played PES nonstop. I was always Fiorentina. And before every single clash, when I brought Federico into the starting lineup, he would chuckle, “Balls are ready.” Every. Single. Time. But yeah, it’s still kind of funny.
AM: Sócrates. The man whose birth certificate read “Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira” only spent a year in purple, but it’s long enough to have made quite an impression on us. Also, he was actually a medical doctor and smoked like a chimney. Oh, and he made a professional appearance at the age of 50. Even if his actual name weren’t Sócrates, we’d love him. But again, the dude’s parents actually named him Sócrates.
ST: Abel Balbo. It’s just a really fun name to say out loud. Go ahead, try it. See? The trochees and the assonance just create an excellent combination. Abel Balbo.
ST: Lefter Küçükandonyadis. And I was worried when Jakub Błaszczykowski showed up. Lefter was an inside left for the Viola back in 1951, but he’s an absolute legend for both Fenerbahce (423 goals in 615 appearances) and Turkey (21 goals across 15 years). He was also nicknamed Ordinaryüs, or “professor of professors,” which is pretty great. But man, I am super relieved I don’t have to type Küçükandonyadis 12 times a week. Just so many umlauts.
Reserves: GK Bartłomiej Drągowski (unleash the Dragon), CB Gianfranco Gritti (who brings all the grinta), LB Manuel Gobbi (much better if you pronounce it like a clueless American), DM Michele Pazienza (patience not being a quality you expect in a dude who was booked 83 times in his career), AM Stefano Fiore (Fiore at Fiorentina, c’mon), RW N’Diaye Papa Waigo (PAPA WAIGO), CF Gunnar Gren (a goalscorer named Gunnar is tough to turn down)
Feel free to post a stronger lineup in the comments, but I honestly don’t think you can.