What’s in a name? Well, if that name is on this list of the most difficult names to spell in sports, the answer is lots and lots of letters, usually with a very high consonant-to-vowel ratio, arranged in such a way that even the most conscientious of sports writers can’t seem to reproduce them accurately without consulting Google.
Are these names funny? Well, not Dick Trickle or Darren Puppa funny, no. But there is something amusing if not straight up funny about how absurdly difficult these names are. Especially if you try to pronounce them.
Want to test your cognitive abilities? Take a look at each name one time, close your eyes, then see if you can spell it correctly. Some are definitely easier to figure out than others. Over the years I’ve been able to master #30 and #26, and #23 through phonetic devices. But for the most part, I bet you’ll struggle.
Take a look.
This one's not that hard when you sound it out. But with all those syllables, you're bound to make a mistake every once in a while.
30. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain)
Jeff? No problem. But Suh-mar-ja? That's tricky.
29. Jeff Samardzija (Chicago White Sox)
I've been struggling with this one for years. I know all the letters in the name. I just can never seem to arrangle them in the right order. Buerhle? Burlhee? Beurlhe? (And, FYI, it's pronounced like burly.)
28. Mark Buehrle (Toronto Blue Jays)
Usually it's the last names that give you the most trouble. But with Jenrry here, as well as the next two athletes, it's the first name that proves more difficult. (BTW, it's pronounced "Henry Meh-HEE-uh".)
27. Jenrry Mejia (New York Mets)
At 26 we have a tie between two athletes with juxtaposed letters in their first name.
First up is Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Apparently it's common in the Dominican Republic to put the h before the o when spelling "Johnny." But Mr. Peralta here has gone on record saying everyone who spells it "Johnny" or "Johnnie" is spelling it wrong.
Um, yeah, whatever dude.
26. Tie – Jhonny Peralta (St. Louis Cardinals)
Our other #26? Miami Heat superstar Dwyane "Not Dwayne" Wade. According to the Wall Street Journal, the misplaced y makes this the most commonly misspelled name in sports.
26. Tie – Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
Kawasaki is a mouth full, but thanks to the motorcycles most folks in North America can spell that. It's the Munenori—not Munonori, Menunori, Muninori, or Menonuri—that throws us for a loop.
Cool dude, though.
25. Munenori Kawasaki (Toronto Blue Jays)
Oh my. So manny doubble consonnants. And is it just me, or do you just naturally want to say Esribel rather than Erisbel? Have fun, Dodgers beat reporters.
24. Erisbel Arruebarrena (Los Angeles Dodgers)
As I said in the intro, this is one you can master with a lot of practice. The trick is just forgetting the correct pronunciation (en-DOM-ah-ken) and going with your own made-up phonetic pronunciation (en-DAMN-ooo-kong).
23. Ndamukong Suh (Miami Dolphins)
I'm sure a lot of you reading this aren't hockey fans. So go ahead, take a stab at this pronunciation.
Haha, that was terrible! It's Buff-lin.
Even if you get the double rr right, you'll probably screw up and spell it Niederrieter.
19. Nino Niederreiter (Minnesota Wild)
This is Cedric Ogbuehi, the Mark Beuhurrley of football.
18. Cedric Ogbuehi (Cincinnati Bengals)
Coming in to bat for the pitcher...number nine...Kirk...NIEWNUNewnehuissen. (Actually pronounced New-N-Heiss, by the way.)
17. Kirk Nieuwenhuis (New York Mets)
Pronounced DAYN-ihs, spelled with so many unnecessary Is.
16. Dainius Zubrus (New Jersey Devils)
Not that it will help you spell it better, but the Dodgers say you pronounce this name He-YUN Jin Ree-YOO...though a quick Google search suggest many actual Koreans would say Roo instead of Ree-YOO. So who knows.
15. Hyun-jin Ryu (Los Angeles Dodgers)
When a name starts with Hj, you know you're in trouble.
14. Niklas Hjalmarsson (Chicago Blackhawks)
This one is particularly tricky because not even the man himself pronounces his name the same way all the time. Sometimes he says "Oo-est-Hayzen," which might lead you to spell it "Ooesthaizen" or something like that. But sometimes he says "West-Hayzen," which might lead folks with a little knowledge of French who know it starts with O to try "Ouesthayzen."
Point is, Afrikaans is weird.
13. Louis Oosthuizen (PGA)
Despaigne? No problem. Ordisamer? Odirasmer? Odisermer? That's a problem.
12. Odrisamer Despaigne (San Diego Padres)
Nope. Too hard.
11. Ifeadi Odenigbo (Northwestern Wildcats)
The name is pronounced Zepp-CHIN-ski. His nickname? Scrabble.
10. Marc Rzepczynski (Cleveland Indians)
His surname is so long, this Borussia Dortmund defender just puts Sokratis on the back of his jersey like he's Brazilian or something.
9. Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund)
Anatoly Timochuck? Aniatoly Tymoschuk? Anatioly Tymoschuk? Bah, forget it.
8. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (FC Zenit)
Yeah, that's right. LaQuvionte. (FYI, he transferred to Kansas.)
7. LaQuvionte Gonzalez (Kansas)
You think Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tough? This guy's name used to be Anujit Hirunratanakorn.
Me? I just call him the Asian Tour's John Daly.
6. Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Asian Tour)
There's no way Arsenal fans can pronounce this guy's name. I just watched the video below 10 times and I still cant' figure it out.
5. Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal)
There's a reason people just call him Coach K.
4. Mike Krzyzewski (Duke Blue Devils)
I wouldn't have believed this is a real hockey player if I hadn't seen it.
3. Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo Sabres)
Marquette's men's basketball coach used to be an assistant for Mike Kczyzcshevzkzy at Duke. I'm thinking they probably call him Coach W.
2. Steve Wojciechowski (Marquette Golden Eagles)
I don't know about you, but I'm just going to call him the Greek Freak. It rhymes!