16 genuinely useful pronunciation tips from Uefa for the Champions League knockout stage

Wondering whether or not you’ve been mispronouncing your favourite footballer’s name all this time? Well with Uefa.com’s handy guide, all will become clear.

With the Champions League knockout stage upon us, Uefa.com has picked out some of the more difficult names to pronounce from the 16 sides still left in the competition.

From Messi to Mignolet, Hazard to Higuain, here’s one name from each team to perfect.


Lionel Messi – Lee-oh-nell

(Steven Paston/EMPICS Sport)

Lionel as in Lyon, not the king of the jungle.


Taulant Xhaka – Tow (to rhyme with cow)-lant Jacka

(Nigel French/EMPICS Sport)

Granit Xhaka’s brother Taulant, “Tow (to rhyme with cow)-lant Jacka”, according to Uefa.

Bayern Munich

Robert Lewandowski – Le-van-dov-ski

(Tim Goode/EMPICS Sport)

As Uefa points out, the Polish “w” is pronounced like an English “v”.


Oguzhan Ozyakup – Oh-zyan Erz-ya-koop

(Nick Potts/EMPICS Sport)

The former Arsenal youth player’s name might trip a few people up.


Eden Hazard – Ay-den

(Nick Potts/PA)

That’s Eden as in maiden, rather than the Garden of Eden.


Gonzalo Higuain – Ee-gway-een

(Nick Potts/PA)

This guy made it all the way to the final last season, so you might want to familiarise yourself with his name.


Simon Mignolet – See-mon Min-yo-lay

(Martin Rickett/PA)

Simon Mignolet might be kept from the starting XI by Loris Karius, but if he does play you’ll know the “g” is silent.

Manchester City

Gabriel Jesus – Jay-zooss

(Martin Rickett/PA)

Will this put an end to the Jesus puns?

Manchester United

David De Gea – De Hayer

(Tim Goode/EMPICS Sport)

Much like Mignolet, United’s keeper drops the “g” in his name.

Paris St-Germain

Adrien Rabiot – Ad-ree-an Rab-yo

(Andrew Milligan/PA)

“The French language’s many vowels continue to confound English speakers,” says Uefa.com. No excuses for getting Adrien Rabiot’s name wrong, though.


Iker Casillas – Ee-care Ca-see-yass

(Nigel French/EMPICS Sport)

Of legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Uefa.com says: “Years of effort have almost eradicated the English tendency to pronounce Iker Casillas’s first name as if he worked as an optician (eye care).”

Real Madrid

Toni Kroos – Crows

(Adam Davy/PA)

Only nine letters in Toni Kroos’ name, but so many ways to get it wrong.


Radja Nainggolan – Nine-go-lon

(Nick Potts/EMPICS Sport)

The 29-year-old has failed to score in this year’s Champions League competition. Will he give commentators a chance to say his name correctly in the knockout stage?


Daniel Carrico – Car-hiss-oh

(John Walton/PA)

The “c” at the end of Daniel Carrico’s surname is pronounced as a double “s”. It actually has a tail underneath known as a cedilla.

Shakhtar Donetsk

Yaroslav Rakitskiy – Rack-its-key

(Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport)

This pronunciation actually makes a lot of sense.


Toby Alderweireld – Al-der-way-reld

(Martin Rickett/PA)

Al-der-way-reld’s a stage, and all the men and women merely footballers.

To see Uefa.com’s full pronunciation guide, click here.

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