New Zealand Nadi Legends and Nadi Legends in a group picture after the inaugural Joe Lutumailagi Cup game in Nadi yesterday. NZ Nadi won 2-1.

Midway Car Rental

Footballers' namesakes

Opinions / Analysis

IF you thought world football greats had their namesakes and following in the sport than you are wrong.

While there’s no argument Brazilian, Edson Arantes de Nascimento ‘Pele’ and Argentina’s Deiego Armando Maradona were favourite given names to footballers, and a few of those rang true in Fiji, it is worthy mention that local footballers had their namesakes and following as well.

And with Pele and Maradona, the all-time best in the sport, Jimmy Okete, Abdul Mannan, Vula Wate, Rusiate Waqan, Savenaca Waqa, Enerst Doughty, Kelemedi Vosuga Cheetah, Inia Bola, Faruk Janeman, Bale Raniga, Anand Sami, Ivor Evans, Tony Kabakoro, Abraham Watkins,Semi Tabaiwalu, Josia Tubuna and Linga Nadan were rampantly heard names during pickup, local club and Bazaar games in the country in the 70-80s.

These adored footballers who were the heartthrob of the nation and cloned by namesakes.

Their style and skills emulated, maybe far short on the world fame they were fans delight and garnered their own respect.

Nadi’s Amani Rokoderea was the first player in the 70s, who was named after Pele, he played district football for a few years before migrating to Australia on a contract, Simon Peters followed the suit in the 90s, both were exquisite athletes.

Amani was Pele lookalike, played like him and had the knack to score goals, from classic headers to one on one situation during his short but colourful run.

His appearance and stigma were reason enough for friends to nickname him Pele.

Simon Peters, the darling of a player from friendly North, Labasa was a titan, full of skills.

He envied pint sized Argentinian, Diego Maradona, so much so he was named Maradona.

He was once quoted, saying that one person he loved to meet was Argentina’s 86’ World Cup hero, famously known for his ‘hands of God’ goal against England in Mexico 86’ WC.

Like Amani, Simon’s uncanny dribbling skills, body movements and goal scoring traits had the country call him Simon ‘Maradona’ Peters.

So, what’s it about the nicknames and footballers, not just about world’s-renowned but locals.

Former Rewa and national footballer Mohammed Salim before he made his name in the sport emulated Enerst Doughty, a Lautoka sensation.

In a Sportsone interview a few years ago, he admitted being a big fan of Doughty and wanted to be like him.

“It was something about Doughty, he was very skillful, scored goals and I wanted be like him”.

Salim said he was often called Enerst Dought while playing pickup football in Nasinu- Rewa area.

Nizamud Peter Dean, the former Nadi and national team defender admired Ba and national team defender Semi Tabaiwalu and his style of play.

“I loved his style of play, he motivated me when I was in the nation team”, he said.

“I’d lying if I said I didn’t imitate him”.

The two fierce district rivals, Nadi- Ba played for national team for many years.

Goalkeepers pretended to be Bale Raniga, Savenaca Waqa, Suliano Turaga, Vula Wate and Linga Nadan.

They were said to be the best the country saw between the sticks and so why not them to fulfill the net-minders crave.

Their agility, eye-ball coordination, decisions under pressure and leadership was unparalleled.

These players and others are revered to this day, who were poured with talent and their names mentioned in the same breath as world’s best.

Likewise, the many recreational footballers who emulate their favourites, for skills, styles or just as role models have all enjoyed the beautiful game in their star’s name.

Jimmy Okete, Kelemedi Vosuga, Rusiate Waqan, Abdul Mannan, Inia Bola, Anand Sami, Tony Kabakoro, Faruk Janeman, Abraham Watkins, Semi Tabaiwalu and Josia Tubuna have all made their valuable contributions in real times and through emulation.

After all, imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

meter for a website