10 Superhero Soccer Players
Portugal and the Champions League’s newest footballing sensation is Porto’s Givanildo Vieira de Souza. Never heard of him? Perhaps you may know him better as his footballing nickname of Hulk. Naturally, he’s not the only super-hero to have played professional football. Let’s take a look at some other super-powered soccer stars:
10. Black Panther – Dida
One of Brazil’s most successful goalkeepers, Dida gained his name for his amazing reflexes. Unfortunately, Dida is best known in Britain due to his theatrical dive whilst being, well, stroked by an invading Celtic fan. Still, that cannot detract from an illustrious career that has included winning the Champions League, Serie A and European Super Cups with AC Milan. The best known Black Panther is the King of Wakanda, T’Challa. Most famous for his time in the Avengers, plus a classic Jack Kirby title, the Black Panther represented a real change in racial attitudes when he first appeared in the Fantastic Four comics in the 1960s.
9. Invincible – Danny Invincible
Danny Invincible is a striker/winger who first came to attention in the UK whilst playing for Swindon Town. Following his release, he was then signed by Jim Jefferies at Kilmarnock. His injuries have blighted his career in Scotland, although there have been some recent impressive performances. Oh, and he’s got a great name! Invincible, on the other hand, is a top selling comic from the Image line. A teen super-hero and son of Omni-Man, Invincible is an attempt to revive the fun of superhero comics, as opposed to the grim’n'gritty period exemplified by the modern Batman.
8. The Cat – Peter Bonetti
Famed for his agility and lightning fast reflexes, Peter Bonetti earned the nickname of the Cat. Most famous for his career at Chelsea, where he played for almost 19 years, Bonetti was unlucky in only gaining 7 England caps due to playing in an era famed for it’s English goalkeepers. The Cat was a minor villain in Spider-Man comics but, best known to British readers is probably Billy the Cat (and Katie) from DC Thomson’s Beano comic.
7. Captain Fantastic – Barry Ferguson
This was the nickname that the fans of Glasgow Rangers came up with for their erstwhile captain, Barry Ferguson. Fergie, however, these days, isn’t having the greatest of times. Banned from the Scotland team for life, stripped of the Rangers’ captaincy and on his last legs at the club. Now more Major Disaster than Captain Fantastic! So who was the good Cap F? Unfortunately, not the greatest of meta-warriors. He was, in fact, a comic turn on Do Not Adjust Your Set TV series, where a bowler-hatted David Jason would use his ‘high tech’ umbrella against the devious Mrs Black and her nefarious handbag.
6. Mighty Mouse – Kevin Keegan
Given to him whilst playing for FC Hamburg, two-time winner of European Player of the Year, Kevin Keegan gained the nickname of Mighty Mouse for his energetic style of play. After being rejected by Jimmy Hill’s Coventry City for reportedly being too small, Keegan proved the Brian Clough adage that only the size of your heart matters. Mighty Mouse was, of course, most famous as an animated feature for 20th Century Fox as a cartoon version of Superman. Indeed, the character was first named Supermouse! Mighty Mouse has also achieved fame in the comic books, being published by the likes of Marvel, Dell and Gold Key.
5. The Incredible Hulk – Err.. Hulk
Famed for his likeness to Lou Ferringo in the television series of the Incredible Hulk, Givanildo Vieira de Souza gained his nickname whilst playing in Japan for Tokyo Verdi – a team that played in, you guessed it, green shirts! Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry! Luckily enough, not only is de Souza a big fan of the green skinned behemoth but is actually flattered by the nickname so much that he wears it on the back of his Porto shirt.
4. Captain America – Claudio Reyna
Claudio Reyna was the son of an Argentinian football professional, who moved to the United States in the late 1960s. Whilst playing for Wolfsburg on loan from Bayern Leverkusen, Reyna became the first American to captain a major European club. After joining Glasgow Rangers and gaining his superhero nickname of Captain America, Reyna moved to Sunderland, where he suffered a major injury. Despite some impressive performances for Manchester City and New York Red Bulls, Reyna never really recovered from the injury. Still, he’s doing better than his superhero namesake. Despite first appearing in 1941, Captain America was killed off in Marvel’s Civil War in 2007. His identity has since been assumed by the re-appearance of his World War II sidekick, Bucky Barnes.
3. Spider-Man – Carlton Palmer
Although a bit of a footballing gypsy, Carlton Palmer was mostly famed for his midfield performances for Sheffield Wednesday. Palmer continued to impress at Leeds United and Southampton, before joining Nottingham Forest then Coventry City. Palmer gained his unusual nickname due to his long-limbs and awkward style. Spider-Man is of course the secret identity of Peter Parker – your friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler and all-round web-slinger.
2. Captain Marvel – Bryan Robson
At one time, the most expensive footballer in Britain, Bryan Robson was a stalwart of the Manchester United and England set-up. Signed by Ron Atkinson after his move from West Bromwich Albion to Manchester United, Robson captained the team throughout Atkinson’s tenure and in to Alex Ferguson’s. Captain Marvel, perhaps surprisingly, is the most popular superhero ever published. Following his appearance in Whiz Comics along with Marvel Family members, Captain Marvel jr. and Mary Marvel, Fawcett Comics were continually litigated against by Superman publishers’, DC Comics until, eventually, DC bought out Fawcett. All little Billy Batson needed was to shout SHAZAM! to turn in to the mighty Captain Marvel and be blessed with speed, courage and invulnerability. The latter quality something the injury-prone Robson could have used!
1. Roy of the Rovers
Well, there is only one “real” football superhero in Britain and that’s got to be Melchester Rovers‘ Roy Race – best known to all unsundry as Roy of the Rovers. Roy played for his beloved Melchester from 1955 to 1993, winning 8 European titles, before losing his foot in a helicopter crash. Roy was then succeeded in the team by his son Rocky - a product of his marriage to his deceased wife, Penny. Roy also played for England a number of times during his career and even took over as caretaker manager for a while. But nothing got in the way of his Rovers, even if did leave them for a brief time for Italian team AC Monza.
And here’s some even better news! Roy of the Rovers is being rereleased for the first time since 1995!