A Brief History of Dubbing


Some football clichés appear to be invented by a secret committee - not unlike the shady Dubious Goals Panel - who are referred to only as "they". "Never go back, they say", erm, they say. Nobody listens. 

But "they" are also responsible for football's obsession with dubbing. Not the dubbing that cruelly denied John Wark his only line in Escape to Victory, but rather that of dubbing (or, alternatively, hailing) a player with some unhelpfully comparative praise.

They Have Dubbed Me "The New Ali Dia" - buy the T-shirt here
The New Maradona
The most frequent act of dubbing, so much so that it has its own dedicated Wikipedia page. The threshold for required similarity to the original Maradona is rather low, hence (apologies here, #footballhipsters) the dubbing of Juan Román Riquelme and, rather puzzlingly, that of former Middlesbrough starlet Carlos Marinelli. 

Lionel Messi has faced many understandable questions about his New Maradona dubbage, often choosing to laugh them off or at least acknowledge the flattery (footballers are often flattered by speculation, a quaint Jane Austen-esque football cliché) but it won't be long before The New Messis emerge to endure similar fawning.

The Maradona of...
This is a much more creative alternative to the previous act of dubbing, with a dash of humility too - this player, it implies, may not be Maradona's equal but, well, he's the best we can come up with, yeah? The list of Diego's regional variations is almost endless, but here are some highlights, listed in ascending order of absurdity:

  • Gheorghe Hagi - The Maradona of the Carpathians - understandable, and deservedly grand-sounding.
  • Emre Belözoğlu - The Maradona of the Bosphorus - already pushing it.
  • Saeed Al-Owairan - The Maradona of the Arabs - thanks to some pathetic Belgian defending.
  • Ali Karimi - The Maradona of Asia - bestowing dubmanship of an entire continent is just poor form.
  • Ostrava's Maradona - Milan Baros - Who? WHO dubbed him this?
  • Alan Judge - The Irish Messi - Terrace wit is to blame here, it seems.
  • Luciana Aymar - The Maradona of Hockey - Oh for f...
  • Cristian Levis - The Maradona of Basingstoke

Football is fond of flogging a dead horse (often to the tune of Sloop John B), and less glamorous dubbings are to be found everywhere. Ipswich Town signed Veliče Šumulikoski in 2008, their fans appetite whetted by his billing as "the Macedonian Steven Gerrard", although a penchant for frequently overhit crossfield passes was never established. Gianluca Vialli is attributed, perhaps libellously, with hailing new winger Gabriele Ambrosetti as "the Italian Ryan Giggs" during his time at Chelsea. Nowadays, the act of dubbing/hailing has rather lost its value, so keen are we to unearth The Next Gareth Bale before the original one reaches his mid-twenties.

Elsewhere, more poetic dubbings can be found. In a rare act of dub-on-dub violence, the old Maradona was a notable victim of Andoni Goikoetxea, who earned himself the fearsome moniker of The Butcher of Bilbao. The similarly uncompromising and no-nonsense Miguel Ángel Nadal was dubbed the "Beast of Barcelona", which was perhaps a bit much. Even football matches, such as the infamous Battle of Santiago, are not safe from the dubbers.


Yours in cliché,

The Brian Glanville of Zone 3.


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