Soccer Club Nicknames And What They Mean

A selection of the weird and wonderful club nicknames in world soccer

Juventus celebrate
Juventus' nickname reflects a long and successful history. Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images

The origins of some soccer club nicknames are fascinating, often unique to a certain area or moment in history. It is common for clubs to have a variety of nicknames, but here are 10 of the most interesting ones.

Juventus (the Old Lady)

Juventus are the oldest and most successful club in Italy, and the club’s nickname La Vecchia Signora (The Old Lady) reflects this.

Arsenal (the Gunners)

The club was formed in 1886 by workers at Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory.

Initially called Dial Square, the club would be renamed as Woolwich Arsenal before dropping the prefix in 1913. The connection to the Armament Factory remained despite the club moving to north London, and they are still known as the Gunners.

River Plate (millionaires)

The Argentinean giants became known as Los Millionaros (millionaires) after they moved from Boca, a working class district of Buenos Aires to a wealthier area in 1938.

Atletico Madrid (mattress makers)

The Spanish club are known as Los Colchoneros (the mattress makers) because their shirts resemble a traditional pattern on Spanish mattresses.

Everton (the Toffees or Toffeemen)

There are several explanations for the origin of this moniker. Some believe it hails from a toffee shop near the ground which sold the Everton Mint, while another explanation is that ‘Toffees’ was a nickname for the Irish, of whom there were many in Liverpool.

FC Koln (billy goats)

The club were founded in one of the working class districts of the Rhineland city, and goat is a derogatory name for the poor. Geissbock (billy goat) stuck and Koln still parade a mascot goat called Hennes – after former coach Hennes Weisweiler – before every home match.

Nimes (the Crocodiles)

The emblem of the French city is a crocodile tied to a palm tree.

Nimes was once a favorite resting place of Roman soldiers who had conquered Egypt (the crocodile stands for Egypt and the palm symbolizes victory). The shirt has a crocodile graphic on the body.

Ipswich Town (the Tractor Boys)

The English club are widely known as the ‘Blues’ or ‘Town’, but acquired a new nickname during their first appearance in the Premier League. Ipswich are called The Tractor Boys because of the agricultural links to the area. When they played Birmingham City, the opposition fans sang “no noise from the Tractor Boys” during a routine win, and soon their own supporters began using the name to refer to themselves as they jovially highlighted the club’s lack of glamor compared to their more illustrious opponents.

Galatasaray (Cim Bom Bom)

The Turkish club, set up by students of a French high school, went on tour to Switzerland in the early 1900s where they learnt a Swiss song called Jim Bom Bom. Once they returned home it got lost in translation.

Olympiakos (legend)

The Greek outfit became known as Thrylos (legend) after a successful run in the 1930s which garnered six league titles. For a spell, the side featured a forward line made up exclusively of the five Andrianopoulos brothers.