The World’s Best International Players as Judged by Similarility of Names to Literary Figures

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Some famous literary heavyweights loved the sport of soccer. For example, French philosopher Albert Camus, author of The Stranger, enjoyed him some football. While some snooty intellectuals such as Borges viewed it as the opiate of the masses, others have applauded and embraced the artistry of a fine first touch. To put it simply, once you’ve seen a Dennis Bergkamp goal, your jaw drops, your mind goes blank, and only the best prose can describe the void left in your heart by every minute of the day you don’t see Bergkamp score.

Thus, it was no surprise that I noticed an odd pattern: many players on national teams around the world share names cannily similar to literary heavyweights. Wouldn’t it be beautiful for these two worlds to meld into one? Imagine the possibilities. Here are the highlights.

Junot Diaz –>–>–> Junior Diaz

One is the Dominican-American author of the celebrated novel The Brilliant, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, teaches creative writing at M.I.T., and is an editor at the Boston Review. The other is a defender for the Costa Rican national team which made the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup.

But are they really so different? If Junot Diaz and Bryan Ruiz were on the same five-a-side team, I bet they would get along fine.

Roberto Bolano –>–>–> Christian Bolanos

One was the Chilean-Mexican author of The Savage Detectives, a trippy novel that relied on intense pacing and a first-person confessional voice to ask such profound questions as “what acts exactly count as losing one’s virginity”? The other was and is a Costa Rican midfielder with a sweet pivot who wears one of those black hair buns normally reserved for Minnesotan housewives.

If Roberto ever came back to life and discussed literature with Christian while sitting in a cafe, I’d love to be a fly on the wall of that cafe. I’d patiently listen and use my mandible to clean the halteres attached to my metathorax.

Marios Vargas Llosa –>–>–> Eduardo Vargas

Mario Vargas Llosa, the celebrated Peruvian author, has taken historical fiction to the darkest realms of Latin America, from the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic to the Shining Path’s reign of terror in Peru. Eduardo Vargas, on the other hand, by all accounts is a nice chap and has a pretty rad arm tattoo.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Costa Rica is kinda cleaning up with this whole similar author-player last names game. Do wildly successful authors retire to the land of pura vida to enjoy the sunshine and affordable living and spawn some half-legitimate children with a concubine or two?

Gore Vidal –>–>–> Arturo Vidal

American author Gore Vidal wrote some pretty long and kinda dry historical fiction and accumulated vast amounts of wealth, but his professional life was overshadowed by an allegedly hedonistic private life punctuated by frequent trips to Bangkok. Arturo Vidal, the hard-charging Chilean central midfielder, has kicked some serious ass for Juventus and the national team, but is frequently rumored to be transferring to your favorite big club.

Exhibits A & B: both look sharp in suits.

Julio Cortazar –>–>–> Julio Cesar

Noted Argentine novelist and surrealist writer Julio Cortazar penned the famous book Rayuela, “Hopscotch” in English, in which a globe-hopping deconstructionist arguably contributes to the death of a child through his negligent engagement with reality. Julio Cesar, Brazilian shot-stopper, also knows the darkness of the Earth: he once spent three entire months in the city of Toronto without taking his own life or renouncing God.

“Julio”, you say, is a pretty common first name. Fine, prick. You do a few of these.

Jorge Luis Borges –> –> –> Celso Borges

Argentine short-story master Jorge Luis Borges once said “soccer is popular because stupidity is popular.” Of course, history easily explains away this quote. During Borges’ life, cable TV and HD did not exist, thus he could not easily watch dope soccer matches. Otherwise, he would have been captivated by Costa Rica’s run in the 2014 World Cup. In particular, Celso Borges had a good tournament and ably scored his spotkick in the win over Greece.

Again, I note that both look dapper in suits. No further proof needed.

In an alternate universe, these folks are all cousins or something. At family gatherings, they discuss Wittgenstein and argue the philosophical and moral underpinnings to a referee’s decision to be indecisive about a possible penalty. When they discuss what they’re reading, though, things get heated and they spit and shout and bite. In this universe, also known as sad sad reality, they’re just shit soundalikes. And has anybody else noticed that Isco looks like Hook from Once Upon a Time?

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